Mark Bertolini, chief executive officer at health insurance provider Aetna, believes we should all start doing yoga at work.
THE DAILY MEDITATION agrees—but then, we are a yoga website.
Let’s investigate the benefits of yoga at work to see just what exactly the big deal is.
The benefits of yoga at work
Million of employees have started meditating at work.
There is plenty of reason to start doing yoga at work, too.
CEO Mark Bertolini tells us that when we do yoga at work we improve our own health, we boost our productivity and we improve the atmosphere and profitaility of the workplace.
Bertolini has seen the benefits of yoga at work for himself, having taught yoga to the majority of Aetna’s workfoce.
Now, Bertolini is inspiring other employers to start giving yoga classes at work. He’s taken off his tie and now wears a metal amulet that read Sohum. In Sanskrit, Sohum means, “You and I are one with the universe.” It’s a mantra that is often recited in meditation. It’s not the sort of message you generally relate to CEOs.
But Bertolini is not your average CEO.
His life was changed when he miraculously survived a near-death skiing accident. Immediately afterward, he set about overhauling his health regimen, introduced key changes for the Aetna business, and began to offer free meditation and yoga classed to his employees—which totals more than 13,000 people. He then began to sell those same yoga classes to other insurance companies. And as though that weren’t enough, he raised salaries by 33%.
One third of all of Aetna’s health insurers have attended the workplace yoga classes, and the results are clear.
Yoga increases productivity and decreases stress.
Aetna’s yoga classes have revolutionised the business. Since Bertonli took over as chief executive operator in 2010 Aetna’s stock has tripled and is now sitting at a record high.
Many managers use meditation at work for themselves. But it’s important for the entire company to practice both yoga and meditation.
Attending Aetna for the day is like visiting the wall street version of a meditation retreat. Of course there’s business continually occurring, but at the same time there are employees dresses in yoga pants doing asanas, and others sitting on the floor in lotus position meditating. Offices are often decorated with religious or spiritual statues, like Bertolini’s statue to the Hindu deity Ganesha, and the attitude of the company is one of peaceful relaxation and oneness, the sort of place anyone would be lucky to work.
Aetna has measured the effect of their yoga practices. They’ve seen a 28 percent decrease in stress, a 20% increase in sleep quality, 19 percent pain reduction, and nearly all employees who have taken the meditation and yoga classes have become more productive. That productivity equates to an average of 62 minutes per week saved per employee—which is the equivalent of$3,000 per employee.
“We have this groundswell inside the company of people wanting to take the classes,” Mr. Bertolini said. “It’s been pretty magical.”
Aetna is at the top of a monumental movement in the business world.
Multinationals are beginning to introduce yoga and meditation lessons, and other emotional and spiritual courses. And it’s definitely true that yoga at work benefits everyone. But there are other positive courses that should be offered at work too. Google offers an emotional intelligence course for employees , while General Mills has a meditation room, and Goldman Sachs offers free meditation classes.
What’s most amazing about these courses is that they offer benefits to employer, employee and company alike.
Main benefits of yoga at work
- increased productivity
- reduced stress
- increased motivation
- increased sense of wellbeing
- better working relationships
- increased profit
- increased salaries
- less work-related health problems
- less sick days
Some employees don’t believe in yoga at work
Of course there are critics. Some employees do not approve of yoga classes.
Some religious employees have even given heated criticism claiming that meditation and yoga are spiritual practices which are not in agreement with their own spiritual and religious beliefs.
Naturally it is iimportant that companies respect the differences in beliefs and offer alternative classes for their different employees.
Many view meditation as a religious practice (even though there are plenty of meditators who are atheists or agnostics.But some employees believe meditation is all about Buddhism and Hinduism (though meditation is also an important aspect of many other religions including Wicca and Jainism). Other religions view meditation in a less positive light. Christianity only recently changed its view on meditation. In the 1950s meditation was regarded as occultist and satanic by the Christian community. There are still those who are against meditation, and a small group of those has publicly speaking up against the use of meditation in workplaces, seeing it as an offense to their beliefs.
What is clear and cannot be disputed, however, is that doing meditation and yoga at the office massively improves the health and productivity o employees. When work life puts a heavy burden of stress and anxiety on employees, it is essential that businesses do everything they can do ensure the stability of their employees mental and physical health. Companies like Aetna are leading the way towards a brighter tomorrow.
But be mindful of which type of yoga you are doing.
Some types of yoga are not ideal at work.
For instance, there are many risks of hot yoga that employers should watch out for.
We recommend suggesting meditation and yoga classes at your workplace and sharing this article. Tell your boss that yoga at work benefits everyone.
Health problems caused by sitting at work for too long
Spending too much time sitting down at work is a serious health risk.
Sitting at your office chair all day can cause these health problems:
- Weight gain
- Reduced blood flow
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Gastro-intestinal problems and stomach ache
- Brain damage (caused by reduces oxygen to the brain)
- Neck, shoulder, and back problems
- Hip problems
- Vericose veins
- Weak bones
- Decreased longevity
- Increases risk of lung cancer [54%], uterine cancer [66%], colon cancer [30%]
Practicing yoga at work reduces the risk of these issues and increases overall wellbeing
3 Ways To Do Yoga At Work
1. Use a yoga app
There are many excellent yoga apps that show how to do yoga at work.
One of the best apps is Office Yoga Pro Fitness At Work At Your Desk. This cute little yoga app shows you which asanas to do, and it is beautifully presented with an easy-to-follow guide.
Get it on iTunes: Office Yoga Pro Fitness @ Work – Dawnsun Technologies LLC
2. Do asanas in your office chair
There are several yoga poses to do in the office chair while at your desk.
Try the following:
Seated crescent moon pose:
- Sit with good posture
- Raise your hands over your head with the hands in prayer position (palms touching)
- Bend your body lightly to the side while gazing up and to the opposite side to your hands
Wrist and finger stretches
- Gently stretch your arms out
- Lightly rotate your hands in circular motions
- Raise the fingers up and down using your wrist muscles
- Si with good posture
- Cross one leg over the other
- Twist your body to the side so you are looking over your shoulder, slightly behind you
- Place your hands on the table.
- Let the table take your upper body-weight. You should be standing but leaning forward at approximately a 45 degree angle, hands on the table, which is supporting your weight
- Dip down like you were doing a push-up on off the table
- Dip your head and chin down
- Push through, and push your weight up lightly with your hands
Cheat and get a movable standing desk
The main problem with spending all day in your office chair is that you simply do not move enough, and this inhibits circulation.
The easiest way to fix this is to get a an adjustable standing office desk. These desks let you raise and lower the table and move the different levels in and out.
This means that you an sit or stand while working, and you have the flexibility to work in different positions. Essentially, you can more while working, which will reduce many of the health problems of working for too long.
The best adjustable standing office desk is Varidesk, which has 5 stars (out of 5) from more than 1400 reviews on Amazon.
Get it on AMAZON.
When it comes to boosting productivity, one of the best types of yoga for work is pratyhara. This is a mental style of yoga that reduces distractions and negative influences. Basic example: Getting rid of that pizza flyer that’s on your office desk.
By reducing distraction and increasing positive influences, we boost our minds.
My guide to pratyahara shares everything you need to know.
When we bring yoga to work we improve both our health and our productivity. It’s a win / win.
I personally like to take an hour break for yoga halfway through the day. But equally, we can squeeze in yoga while at the office desk. Even five minutes yoga in your office chair is better than nothing.
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