Do you want to feel rejuvenated and cleansed each day? Are long days at the office getting too much for your body? Yoga can help to transform your mental and physical health with daily practices and movement.
Yoga originated in Northern India over 5,000 years ago, embedding the spirituality of self-knowledge and wisdom into the physical practice of stretching. The ritual of yoga has been transformed over the years, proposing the rejuvenation and cleansing of the body. Yoga has now entered the Western world and is closely associated with mindfulness exercises and spirituality.
The Benefits of Yoga
There are many modern benefits to yoga, including taking time away from technology or work. Mindfulness has become an empowering movement within mental health, and yoga rituals fit within the movement like a puzzle piece. John Hopkins Medicine argues: ‘scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep’.
Many yoga positions and stretches can help you with certain complaints, from back pain to arthritis: there are an abundance of benefits. The most essential and integral feature of yoga is improving your strength and flexibility. The slow and full body deep stretches help to increase the blood flow and build strength whilst holding a pose.
“I started my yoga practice about six months ago, and on reflection, I’ve become stronger within my body and can manage my stress levels better. As soon as I can feel my anxiety increase, I know it’s time to get my yoga mat out and get my body in to child’s pose (my favourite)” Emily, UK.
Yoga Positions for Beginners
Yoga can be daunting, especially for people who have never thought that slow movement could benefit your body. But there are very easy positions to get you started…
- The Downward Dog
This position is probably what is most associated with yoga. It’s one of the basic moves to start with. VeryWellFit suggests: ‘remember to keep your weight mostly in your legs and reach your hips high, with your heels stretching toward the floor’. To make it easier, bend your legs for more ease in the stretch.
2. Mountain Pose
This is another standing pose, and it’s very much how you would think it would look by the name. By standing up straight and engaging the muscles in the legs, abdominal area and glutes, the mountain pose makes sure your posture is the focus for progress in your practice.
3. Cat-Cow Stretch
This yoga stretch is one of the most important for your spine and back and my personal favourite. If you want a satisfying stretch, this one is great. Start on all fours, with your hands and knees at a good position on your mat. You push your stomach down and your bum and head up towards the sky to get the cow pose. Remember, it’s a slow movement. For the cat pose, think of a scared cat; your back is pushed up to the sky whilst putting your head down in the middle of your shoulder blades and your shins flat on the mat. Feel the stretch and relieve the back pain.
Yoga for the workplace?
It is also important to recognise the advantage of yoga to colleagues and businesses. Particularly focusing on office workers, the lack of lumbar support and increased stress rates can be relieved by practicing yoga. In addition, integrating yoga classes into the workplace can have an enormous effect on positive thinking, body image and mindfulness.
Yoga U highlights The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism says that ‘companies with wellness programs report a 26% reduction in healthcare costs, a 30% reduction in workers compensation and disability claims and a 28% in sick days’. Yoga retreats and classes all contribute to the rise of wellness within our workplaces. Companies have recognised that self-care and the health of their employees will positively impact the business in terms of productivity, colleague happiness, and long term economic gain.
These companies don’t have to include office-based environments. For example, workers such as hairdressers and factory workers experience lower back pain from repetitive strain, which yoga postures and stretches can help relax and restore. In addition, yoga retreats and classes can be transformative for your working environment and relationship.
As I’ve discussed, the mental and physical effects of practising yoga are transformative. Your body will thank you for it, from positive thinking to flexibility exercises such as the pigeon pose.
“I’ve seen a big benefit in my posture. I sit at my desk eight hours a day, but having the option to stretch my body has really transformed how I feel about my body and that has a positive effect on my mental health too” Matt, USA
The team at Your People Are Your Power worked with expert Zoe to craft a specially designed course to help alleviate stress in the body for the office based worker. The 9-5 Yoga programme offers five sessions to allow employees to establish their health and wellness. Instructor Zoe mainly focuses on the stressed areas of your body, which include hip flexors, spine, neck, shoulders and wrists. Stretching these parts can alleviate any pain that office or standing-based work can create. Let yoga stretch your focus to wellness for you and your team. For more information, check out the course.
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