Yoga’s ever increasing popularity, as a form of exercise, is a testament to the millions enjoying the health and fitness benefits of this ancient yet relevant practice. Right from sports players to leading business owners to celebrities, some of the most successful people in the world are yoga fans.
But yoga is not merely about contorting your body into mind-boggling poses. It’s a practice that strengthens not just the body but also the mind. A growing number of business organizations are recognizing this impact of yoga and meditation as a means to create more motivated, efficient and productive employees and consequently a healthy bottom line.
Yoga is a way of life that becomes a part of a yoga enthusiast’s experience with benefits that extend way beyond the mat. So what sets them apart?
1. They are focused
Today more than ever, in a world of increasing information overload, we need focus to achieve success. Yoga teaches single pointed focus which over time, enables you to enhance your memory, clarity, brainpower, and concentration.
2. They are energetic
As you reach for your fifth cup of coffee to keep you going at work, give a thought to trying yoga instead to boost your energy levels. Yoga practitioners are very active in their daily lives.
Yoga helps to unblock stagnant energy within the body and brings flexibility and alertness, combating that post-lunch dip with productivity.
3. They are patient and kind
Practice yoga with patience and patience is what you get back. Yoga is not a quick fix. It takes time and effort to perfect a posture, making you avoid injury and learn patience.
Breathing exercises and meditation practices give rise to inner well-being and a sense of inclusiveness and hence, compassion.
4. They handle stress better
Yogis don’t get stressed easily. Recent research has shown that yoga can help reduce and better manage anxiety, stress, depression and panic attacks. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a highly successful and effective psychological therapy developed by distinguished psychologists in the UK, is based on yoga and meditation.
MBCT is recommended by NICE (the National Institue of Health and Care Excellence) to prevent relapses in chronic recurring depression.
Yoga is a calming practice that brings physical and mental relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Yogis sleep well at night. No wonder they have such a healthy glow!
5. They are healthy and fall ill less often
Yoga is a low-impact exercise that is recommended for many chronic ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and even better, menstrual health. Yoga helps you achieve a healthy weight by regulating hormones and metabolism.
A 2013 Harvard study showed that yoga, as a form of exercise and meditation, has positive health benefits all the way down to the genetic level. It can positively impact not just stress related diseases but also immune functions.
6. They are self-confident
Regular yoga exercises make your body lithe and supple, enhancing your body image and self-confidence. Almost any yoga pose can be made deeper and more challenging.
As you overcome fear and are able to go further, you respect your body more. Yoga builds mind control and inner strength, making you stress resistant and leading to a higher self-esteem.
7. They are productive
A healthy employee is an efficient employee. Reduced stress and anxiety and other mental and physical health benefits naturally bring an increase in your competence and effectiveness with lesser days off work on account of sickness.
Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the United States, has made yoga available to all his employees in America. In 2010, Aetna partnered with Duke University’s School of Medicine and found that regular yoga substantially decreased stress levels and health care costs.
Google’s Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing, Gopi Kallayil, endorses yoga’s positive impact on productivity. He believes that in the fast paced environment of companies like Google, yoga helps balance one’s body and mind and impacts productivity and culture positively.
He even started a program called Yoglers, where he personally teaches yoga to Googlers. The program has been very successful with Google offices across the globe adopting it.
8. They are present and mindful
Have you zoned out in meetings, not recollecting what someone said? Have you eaten your lunch at your desk on autopilot, without enjoying your meal? Maybe give mindfulness a try. Leading American companies, from General Mills, Target, Apple and Nike to Procter & Gamble, are embracing yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.
Mindfulness teaches us how to pay attention to the present moment. It makes us more conscious of our inner world of thoughts, feelings, emotions and body from the perspective of understanding ourselves better and hence controlling our response so that we act and not react to situations.
Meditation practices in yoga teach you to live and experience each moment to the fullest. Over time, yogis live with a deep sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
9. They are positive
Yogis acknowledge feeling happy and calm after a yoga session. Many will tell you the days they do yoga are better and everything seems to flow smoothly. Sara Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, has led a series of studies at Massachusetts General Hospital, that prove that meditation impacts the way our brains are wired and affects areas of the brain associated with stress and well-being.
The studies have found that the positive effects of yoga and meditation are not just limited to relaxation after a session but are remarkably longer lasting.
Yoga aims to create a balance in the body and mind making you centered and less likely to feel disturbed. Additionally, yoga encourages an attitude of gratitude that helps you recognize the brighter side of life.
10. They are self-aware
Yoga lovers tend to have a balanced perspective of life. Yoga practices of mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises aim at making you more aware and conscious of yourself while the physical exercises make you really understand your limits.
Learning what you can or cannot do, leads to accepting yourself without judgment. As you learn to hold stress and other mental agitations at bay, it opens up a new possibility of knowing your true self.
Featured photo credit: By Julia Caesar via download.unsplash.com