About a bajillion years ago, some spiritual leaders agreed on a few definitions of what exactly yoga is and how it should be done. From my understanding, the general consensus was something along the lines of, “Chill out and remember to breathe.” Perhaps the preferred yoga outfit has evolved since then, but that definition seems to stand true since the American Yoga Boom of the 1980s. Nowadays, everybody and their goat practices yoga for a variety of ailments including cancer, schizophrenia, asthma, and heart disease. While you may not be trying to treat any of those afflictions, there is an abundance of reasons that integrating yoga into your workday routine can boost your productivity and improve your outlook.
The best thing about yoga is that it is for everybody. Partaking in yoga is not contingent on having a specific body type, flexibility level, or brand of yoga pants. You (exactly as you are right here, right now) are sufficient enough to get down with the yoga. Part of practicing yoga is coming to your mat without any expectations and cultivating trust in your mind and your body. Allow this trust to spill over into your work life and cull any tendencies to second guess yourself or doubt your abilities.
Developing a consistent yoga practice is a study in commitment. Much of your working life will be spent doing things you probably do not want to do. When you pledge to set a time to come to your yoga mat and let your expectations of the time spent in practice melt away, you are fulfilling a vow to yourself. Some days you may question why you do yoga or if you even like yoga. These kind of questions will arise about any commitment one makes in life whether its to a spouse, a cause, a value set, or your job. Perhaps there is no immediate reward to fulfilling your duties on or off the mat, but the act of showing up is, in and of itself, a reward worth pursing.
This may sound a bit bleak, but an undisputed certainty of life is suffering. As we go through existence we will experience discomfort, dread, disappointment, and devastation in varying degrees and of varying duration. Because we have labeled these feelings as bad, our first mental inclination will be to resist these emotions. Resistance throws every element of our being into crisis mode and limits our ability to see a situation with clarity. Many a yoga pose requires an attention to breath and composure to get the fullest benefit from it. Approaching difficult situations with mindfulness, rather than resistance, will help you grow on the mat and in your work place performance.
4. Health, In General
Practicing yoga won’t immediately turn you into a health guru, but introducing one healthy habit into your life oftentimes paves the way for more to follow. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking time to take care of yourself are all part of the yoga lifestyle. When you are physically functioning better, you will find yourself more productive at work solely based on the fact that you just feel better.
Additionally, studies have shown that yoga can help lower blood pressure, boost endurance, increase flexibility, and improve heart function. When our physical body is working in tandem with our mind, we can come to stressful situations with a balanced approach. Needless to say, the work benefits from cultivating a health-minded practice to mitigate stress are numerous.
Once of the biggest concerns of the modern office worker is posture. It doesn’t take a specialist to realize that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day may not be the best for back health. Yoga can help strengthen muscles that oftentimes go neglected in a sedentary lifestyle. Just taking time out of your work day to go through a few of these poses can wake up your body and help revive core and back muscles. As with most things, you will notice more improvement the longer you stick with it.
A positive mental attitude (also known as a “PMA”) is a tried and true method for developing happiness, approaching life with gratitude, and developing a more productive and meaningful relationship with your job. When you make a choice to commit to your yoga practice, you carve out time to pause, breathe, and let go of unproductive mindsets.
At our jobs, whatever they may be, there are so many “what if” moments where, instead of harnessing the power of now, we berate ourselves for things in the past and stress about what’s to come. Yoga can reshape the way we think about being present and the choices we make regarding how we approach a situation. Self doubt, negativity, and guilt are not productive feelings on or off the yoga mat. Instead, welcoming a positive mental attitude into our coping repertoire will help you be your best, most-productive self at work and throughout all arenas of your life.