Why Organisations Use Yoga To Improve Staff Performance And Productivity
Updated: Feb 10
Scientific studies have repeatedly proved that yoga improves productivity and performance, but what does that actually mean and how does it work?
It is well documented that exercise can develop brain functions such as accuracy and alertness as well as mood and energy. For decades, researchers have concluded that meditation and breath exercises help reduce stress, blood pressure, fatigue and improve sleep.
But the reason that workplace yoga classes have grown in popularity is because it is yoga’s unique blend of body and mind exercises that delivers the results that individuals and organisations seek – productivity and performance.
PRODUCTIVITY can be defined as output (products/services) measured in relation to input (people/materials).
PERFORMANCE can be defined as how well a piece of work is completed.
In this article we are talking about people rather than machines. People are the key to the success of every organisation and some the main ingredients to people performing better and being more productive are listed below. Words in italics are direct quotes from research papers.
Yoga and meditation at work puts people in a more positive and relaxed frame of mind, more open to exploring a wider range of ideas. With a clearer mind and stronger focus it is “easier to register the novelty and usefulness of ideas.” Stress stifles creativity…yoga reduces stress.
Regular meditation increases the amount of grey matter in the auditory, sensory and frontal cortexes of the brain, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making. In a work environment, corporate yoga helps people “switch off the reactive fight-or-flight response and engage in a more thoughtful mode that’s crucial for making balanced decisions.”
A little stress can help propel us to become high achievers, too much stress kills our capacity to be imaginative and make good decisions. Stress is also the number one cause of all sick work days lost. Yoga for employees induces a sense of calm and wellbeing, increases the flow of blood to the brain and releases positive mood hormones. “Yoga works better than stress management classes.”
Being physically fit is directly linked to being healthy, but studies have shown that yoga can have greater health benefits than similar aerobic exercises and walking. Strength, flexibility, lung capacity and lower blood pressure are typical benefits. “Regular meditation also boosts your resilience and courage, so that you can more easily bounce back from setbacks.” Workplace wellbeing has good health and resilience at its core.
“Yoga has a cognitive component in which attention and concentration are important. In the same way as muscles, the brain develops through training.” Physical exercise increases energy levels which helps people focus, but workplace yoga benefits the individual as it can also “greatly affect neural patterns in the brain, which can improve your ability to concentrate and focus.”
Many studies have found that people doing yoga experience significant improvements in their mood compared to people not doing yoga. In addition, there is a clear link between improved mood and reduced levels of stress and anxiety. One of the ways it works is by releasing the “happy hormones”: serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.
Yoga gets the heart rate up and increases blood flow to the brain, releasing endorphins – this all raises your energy. Workplace wellness programmes increasingly include yoga and meditation because they improve mood which in turn has a positive impact on energy levels.
Of course many people don’t believe that yoga and meditation are right for them, so here are two big myths busted:
1. Yoga is only for fit, flexible bodies
Yoga is not about physical prowess and achieving contortionist type poses. It is about mental agility and flexibility. It is practiced by people of all ages and life stages, from schools to offices to retirement homes and all steps in between.
2. Meditation is hard to do
It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to clear your mind of thoughts. But meditation is actually about becoming more alert and focused. There are many types and techniques to try. I GUARANTEE you can do a 3 minute meditation and immediately feel positively different. Just ask me how!