Corporate yoga has been growing in popularity, many firms have a dedicated yoga room in the office in cities like London, New York, Amsterdam, and San Francisco, and now this trend has arrived in Asia, in Hong Kong we have seen many large multinational companies partake in weekly yoga classes over the years, small local businesses are also following suit. Transforming the office pantry or the company boardroom to host mindfulness classes, back care yoga, or chair yoga is an effective way to look after staff and bring more calming energy into the office environment. Emotional contagion states that our environment influences our emotions and they influence others, making a concerted effort to bring more tranquillity into the workplace has cascading ripple effect of positivity for the workforce. Corporate wellness offerings have historically been discounts to yoga studios and gym memberships but now there have been a lot of findings around the benefits of practicing personal care routines within the office as having a more positive impact on workforce wellbeing.
Firstly, the office yoga classes are catered to the needs of the employees. They all share similar lifestyles as it’s a factor of their jobs, lots of screentime, sedentary for many hours of the day, workload and pressure at work. These are all common to everyone in the office, thus curating programs that have the workforce in mind makes the practice more intentional to release the stress built up during the day, to relax the lower back from sitting for extended periods to calming techniques to soothe eye strain and mental pressure from the job and improve posture to eliminate the stiffness around the neck and shoulders from working on their computers all day.
Secondly, it allows cross-collaboration within the firm, employees aren’t sectioned into their roles, divisions, and departments, these classes are open to all and people can mix with each other regardless of where they are placed in the hierarchical structure. This brings a more friendly and cordial atmosphere, employees feel validated for being part of the workforce rather than just the business results they deliver. The seemingly flatter structure of the office makes it a much more fun place to work, more connections are made and a greater appreciation is shared for self-care, acknowledging that our body and mind need time to restore from the fast pace office culture many success-driven firms imbibe.
Thirdly, the wellbeing of the workforce is intrinsically connected to the well-being of the business. When employees feel cared for and supported they bring their best effort to work, resulting in high performance. When employee stress levels are soaring, teamwork and communication suffer and individuals are put in survival mode, furthering the stress experienced. Yoga in the office has the main objective of lowering stress levels, creating a sanctuary in a stressful environment, and bringing a mindful pause to a hectic day, this conscious choice to pause enables a more sustainable work ethic, lowers burnout, and increases general immunity, the business case of this is lower sick days, higher presenteeism and increased talent retention.
Lastly, office yoga demonstrates accountability, where teams believe in self-care and allocate time and priority to showing up for the classes. When leaders join the classes it acts as a signal to the entire firm that it is encouraged to take time for yourself and look after yourself and in fact, it is your personal responsibility to do so. Many attempts at corporate wellness don’t translate in results due to low engagement and staff being too busy to ever show up to the programs offered, office yoga is an easy and transparent way to help tackle workplace stress and occupational tension as it incorporates elements of relaxation, balance, fitness, and agility.