The initiative of encouraging workplaces to incorporate a 'Y-Break at Office Chair' is a highly welcomed step and has the potential to help millions of employees in India and this initiative was launched by the Ministry of AYUSH last month on the heels of International Yoga Day, with an aim to help the workforce tackle stress, feel more energised and focus better. Incorporating Yoga into the office routine is a powerful strategy that can profoundly impact both physical and mental well-being, consequently leading to increased productivity among employees as Yoga nurtures our bodies, soothes our minds and enriches our holistic wellness by offering a perfect blend of physical and mental exercises, empowering us with the skills to gracefully and resiliently navigate the process of ageing.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Marcus Ranney, Founder and CEO at Human Edge, shared, “Yoga's capacity to soothe the body and mind is one of its benefits. Emotional stress can set off a chain reaction of physical effects, including the release of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which constrict arteries and raise blood pressure. Yoga's deep breathing and mental focus may assist to relieve stress. For dealing with stressful occurrences at work, mindfulness techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are useful stress management tools.”
He suggested, “One can learn to focus their attention on the present moment and become more aware of your thoughts and emotions by practicing mindfulness. This can help manage stress more effectively and improve overall well-being. Mindfulness activities have been demonstrated to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase productivity, according to research. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health examined the effects of 15 studies involving various types of physical relaxation for stress alleviation on healthcare professionals. The study found that, while all physical relaxation strategies reduced work-related stress, yoga seemed to outperform the others.”
On a physical level, he revealed that regular Yoga practice enhances flexibility, strengthens muscles and improves posture. Dr Marcus Ranney highlighted, “Sitting for long hours at a desk can result in stiffness, muscle tension, and decreased range of motion. By introducing Yoga sessions during breaks or offering designated yoga classes, employees can engage in stretching exercises that specifically target these issues. Improved physical well-being translates to increased comfort, reduced risk of musculoskeletal disorders and heightened energy levels, allowing employees to perform tasks more efficiently and with greater ease. Furthermore, the introduction of yoga into the office routine fosters a positive and supportive work environment. It sends a clear message that the organization values the health and well-being of its employees. This gesture can boost employee morale, job satisfaction and loyalty. By investing in the physical and mental wellness of employees, organisations can experience reduced absenteeism, improved employee engagement and decreased turnover rates.”
According to Shuvashish Mukherjee, Head of Yoga and Fitness at Truworth Wellness, Yoga - an ancient practice originating from India - is widely regarded as a valuable contribution to the world. He said, “It has gained particular recognition as an effective remedy for stress reduction, a significant concern in today's workplace where employees often spend more than 10 hours per day on their jobs. The detrimental effects of prolonged sitting in office chairs while fixated on screens are well-documented, negatively impacting both the body and mind. Not only does sitting in a chair for long hours result in neck and back pain but also contributes to the speedy accumulation of fat in the abdominal, hips, and thigh region. Additionally, the strain on the eyes and headache from constantly looking at the screen, and you have the recipe for an unwell body. Not taking care of the physical and mental well-being also impacts the employers and can result in increased absenteeism and attrition rate.”
The Yoga expert gushed, “Integrating Yoga into the daily routines of employees can bring remarkable benefits to both the workforce and employers alike. With yoga, targeting both the body and the mind, employees can get into the rhythm of learning techniques to stretch their bodies, improve posture and enhance their overall physical well-being. Meanwhile, by practicing breath control and meditation, one can significantly add to enhanced mindfulness which can lead to better concentration and higher productivity. Hence, by embracing Yoga in the workplace, employers are not only equipping employees with a powerful tool to re-energize, clear their thoughts and manage stress effectively but also actively contributing to their overall well-being, fostering a sense of belonging and care.”
He advised, “By integrating short yoga sessions during the workday, employees can remain active. A mix of yoga practices such as 'asanas' (postures), 'pranayama' (breathing techniques), and 'dhyana' (meditation) can be pivotal in enhancing the overall well-being of employees. Exercises like squats, mountain climbers, leg raises and tricep dips can easily be executed at the workplace to evade the sedentary nature of desk work and include some movement to one's body. Organizing small group meditation and breath control sessions a few times a week can not just help in improving lung capacity but also enable employees to return to work with a relaxed mind. As the power of Yoga traverses the foreign lands, we hope that the Y-Break - Yoga at Office Chair' will motivate employees to become more active and push employers to invest in practices to take better care of their workforce’s well-being.”