Using Yoga to Improve Productivity
As the leader of a team, boosting morale in a time like this is essential.
After months of working from home, it is likely that your team is feeling slightly unmotivated and maybe lacking some of the productivity that is usually present in a thriving office environment. Trying to work and live in the same space can be testing, so if your employees are in need of an intervention, encourage them to try yoga. Whilst many people are skeptical of yoga before they try it, the benefits in relation to productivity are fantastic, as well as achieving generally great health and wellbeing.
This article will take a look at how yoga can boost productivity, the scientific evidence behind these elements, how you can encourage your team to get involved from home, and the best ways to support yoga, and therefore productivity, with a healthy and balanced diet.
Rather than investing in property or tech this month, why not invest some time and a small amount of money in the wellbeing of yourself and your team. Stopping for a few moments and relaxing an overworked mind can completely change someone’s work ethic and outlook. You all have potentially so much to gain, and nothing to lose!
How Can Yoga Boost Productivity?
Yoga can have a vast range of benefits for our mind and body, all of which ultimately result in your team being more productive, co-operative, and healthy. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of introducing yoga into your company’s working day:
- Improves Sleep – Yoga is the ultimate tool to achieve complete relaxation, which in turn helps people to sleep better. Having a blended living and working space can make unwinding at the end of the day difficult, so encourage staff to implement 10 minutes of yoga into their evening routine. This will give their mind and body time to rest and recover in order to feel energized for work the next day.
- Reduces Stress – Taking time to practice yoga and focus on your self can clear people’s minds of negative thoughts and feelings of being overwhelmed. Your staff will benefit from knowing when to take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and approach a stressful situation with focus in order to offer a measured response. Yoga teaches skills like patience and resilience, which will benefit staff in all areas of their work.
- Increases Happiness – Being connected to your body and having a better understanding of how you think and feel does wonder for people’s happiness. Energy levels can be improved, as well as mood. When people are happy and energized, they are sure to be more productive and enjoy what they are doing.
- Relieves Aches and Pains – Yoga helps to build muscle strength, makes people more flexible, and supports joints and bones, making people generally healthier. This is especially important for desk-based workers who aren’t very active during the day, as fitting yoga into their routine can make them much more comfortable throughout their working day to ensure pain isn’t hindering their performance.
- Prevents Conflict – Trying to communicate with people in a virtual working environment can be testing, with messages often being read in the wrong way, which can easily turn into conflicts. If your entire team is taking more time to focus on themselves, unwind and relax, it is likely that conflicts are less likely to arise. If they do, your staff will be more prepared to deal with them in a measured and calm way.
The Science Behind Yoga
It is all good and well listing the benefits of yoga, but until people take the leap and try it, they have no idea how great it can make you feel. However, vast amounts of science have supported the practice and the ways it can improve all areas of people’s health and wellbeing. If you’re a science person, this is for you! Let’s take a look at how the benefits listed above are supported by science and perhaps this will give you the push to give yoga a go.
- The International Journal of Yoga contains a plethora of research surrounding the benefits of yoga. A study by Woodyard in 2011 found that yoga can improve muscular strength and flexibility, enhance cardiovascular function, assist in the recovery of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, assist with the control of chronic pain and finally enhance the general quality of life and well-being. It doesn’t get much better than that, right?
- Another supportive study of the benefits of yoga on our mind and body was completed by Garcia-Sesnich et al in 2017, which found that yoga practices had an immediate effect on cortisol levels, resulting in a significant decrease in the perceived stress of the study group.
- Additionally, Datta et al (2017) found that yoga Nidra, otherwise known as yogic sleep, can be used as an important supplement in the control of chronic insomnia.
- Finally, in 2009, Javnbakht et al’s study found that women who suffer from anxiety disorders will notice a significant reduction in their levels of anxiety following participation in yoga classes for two months.
As you can see, the benefits people feel when practicing yoga are strongly endorsed within the scientific community.
Fitting Yoga Into a Routine
Of course, an office-based yoga session isn’t really possible in the current climate. However, a fantastic team building activity would be to set up multiple sessions per week with a yoga instructor and put on online classes.
Any staff who wish to take part can simply join the call and the team can all unwind together, virtually! Yoga will bring the best out of people at different points in the day, so try setting three sessions a week, to begin with, one in the morning, one during lunch hour, and one in the evening. The morning can be great for early risers who want to clear their mind before beginning their working day.
For people who struggle to focus after lunch, having a session during lunch hour can help to refresh them to have a productive working afternoon. Many people benefit most from practicing yoga in the evening, as they can relax after a busy day, enjoy their evening and have a good sleep. Even 10 minutes a day will make a massive difference in how your team functions.
The small investment that comes with a yoga instructor could be fantastic in terms of the increase in the happiness and productivity of your team. If yoga is a hit, increase the sessions, and watch your team thrive!
Supporting Yoga With a Healthy Diet
In order for your staff to reap the maximum benefits of their yoga practice, encourage them to support their journey with a healthy diet. Why not make a yoga package for your staff by sending out weekly recipes that are quick to cook and filled with fruit and veg, protein, and any foods rich in Omega-3 to help with muscle recovery and joint pain and stiffness?
Turmeric has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries as a natural remedy to joint pain and inflammation, as well as providing the body with much-needed antioxidants. In terms of vitamins and minerals, taking magnesium supplements can support your team’s yoga practice massively, as they help to support muscles, increase energy levels, and regulate the nervous system.
On top of the weekly recipes, another great way to boost morale would be to create a competition, encouraging staff to create a yoga-friendly meal, share photos and offer yoga-themed prizes for the most voted for dishes, such as a yoga mat or yoga shop voucher. Your team will feel a sense of togetherness, everyone will have a good laugh and will improve their health at the same time.
If it goes well, why not create a virtual yoga retreat weekend. You could send out booklets containing recipes, a shopping list for the weekend, meditation exercises, and photos of poses that can be done without a video. Taking a break from virtual yoga can be refreshing as people can really unwind and connect with their mind and body. Bringing something new that is an exciting talking point throughout the office will bring a new wave of energy and productivity.
If you’re looking to improve the physical and mental health of your staff, boost morale, and help your team to be more productive, look no further than yoga.
The benefits are clear and have been supported by scientific research. Take it a step further with fun and interactive competitions to encourage a healthy diet to help staff maximize the benefits of their yoga journey.
When everyone is eventually back in the office, they will have had plenty of practice, so you could host a group yoga session. A comprehensive yoga program will be cost-effective in terms of the improvements you will see from your team.
Of course, as the leader, you will be taking part to encourage everyone! Invest in yourself and your team and the returns you receive could make this a lifelong hobby.