It’s no secret – work can be stressful. In fact, 80% of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, according to the American Institute of Stress.
Now, evidence suggests there could be a fairly easy way to reduce your stress at work. In a review of 13 studies with nearly 1,300 participants, researchers reported in Occupational Medicine that yoga may have a positive effect on health in the workplace, particularly in reducing stress.
Researchers evaluated whether yoga programs offered to healthy employees produced better health and work performance compared to no yoga or other interventions. They found that multiple trials reported that behavioral health outcomes, mainly with stress, were better in the group offered yoga at work. And no negative effects were reported in any of the randomized, controlled trials.
“Yoga is great, holistic and evidence-based approach that can effectively optimize one’s health,” says Stella Mahaga, nurse practitioner specializing in psychiatry at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Milwaukee.
And yoga is not just another new fitness craze. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years. It’s widely practiced throughout the world and uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation for health and relaxation.
“Yoga is an activity that most everyone can do no matter their fitness level, and you’re never too old to start,” Mahaga says. “You simply do the poses to your own ability, and over time you build up flexibility and strength. Of course, you’ll always want to ask your doctor before starting any exercise program.”
Besides easing stress and building strength and flexibility, yoga is also thought to relieve anxiety, improve heart health, fight depression and reduce chronic pain.
Want to start a yoga program at work? It can be easy and inexpensive. You can subscribe to to an online subscription service, book a conference room and hook up your laptop to the large screen – then invite your coworkers to join in. Or, check out YouTube for lots of free sessions.
With online yoga, you aren’t stuck with the same teacher or style like you might at a studio. You can try out different practices on demand, based on skill level, duration and focus area like shoulders or stress relief, as well as by teacher and styles like Hatha or Vinyassa.
Don’t have the space at work or rather practice your yoga at home? Run the online session through your laptop or TV in your living room. Think about starting a “yoga club” and invite your friends.