By Jackie

With 30% of 19-54 year-old Canadians in 2014 identifying their daily lives as stressful, it is clear that for a large proportion of the workforce, stress plays a significant part in their lives. Sustained levels of stress can have serious repercussions for physical and mental health, not only causing insufficient sleep, but also raising the probability of depression or substance abuse. Luckily, yoga offers a natural, safe way of combating stress and often leaves people feeling happier, healthier and re-energized.

Yoga in the workplace

Adults are recommended to carry out at least 2 ½ hours of exercise a week in order to maintain a good level of overall physical health. Along with offering physical benefits, exercise is the perfect antidote to stress. Considering the fact that the statistics show a link between daily stress and employment, a prudent place to practise yoga is arguably at work during a lunch break. Yoga allows you to release stress in a slow, controlled manner. The sustained deep breathing, meditation and guided stretches will enable you to relax your mind and muscles, ‘reset’ your cluttered mind and tackle the rest of the working day with a renewed sense of clarity and energy.

Recent studies have shown the extra benefits of participating in group exercise compared to exercising alone. However, your choices may be limited, depending on the options available at work. Some places of work have yoga classes available on site, run by an external instructor. This is the best-case scenario, making it easy for you to commit to practising yoga regularly. If no such classes exist, try drumming up enough interest from colleagues and finding an instructor who can run yoga sessions at your place of work. Alternatively, find a quiet space within your work building, or even outside, in which to practise some stretches and focused breathing. If you’re limited on space, there are several effective stretches you can do in a confined area. Child’s pose is a popular choice. Simply kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and your knees wide, before stretching your arms out to the front. This will stretch your back and help you relax. The forward bend is another good option. Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you, slightly bent, and lean gently forward. This loosens up tension in the spine, especially if you have been seated at a desk all day.

The payback

Giving yourself just half an hour to an hour away from work may seem difficult but it can make all the difference when it comes to your mental state and productivity. If giving yourself a full lunch break isn’t possible, even making just five minutes for yourself to stretch and relax in a quiet space can really help calm your mind and feel more positive about the rest of the day ahead.