You’ve probably noticed that over the past few years, the practice of yoga and meditation has quickly gained traction and interest. According to a recent Yoga In America report, “The number of American yoga practitioners has increased to over 36 million in 2016, up 76% from 20.4 million in 2012.” Additionally, “28% of all Americans have participated in a yoga class at some point in their lives.” And even though the positive results from a regular meditation practice has been known for 2,600 years, it’s now more mainstream; people are quickly catching on to its long term benefits.
Given how quickly technology is moving, the 24/7 news cycle, and the generally busy, overworked lives that many people live, it makes sense why people are showing increased interest in how to gain a more mindful and present state. In line with this, here are a few ways employers can do their part to ensure that employees feel more supported and less overwhelmed in their day to day lives.
Offering a mindful environment in the workplace
Many companies are adding corporate yoga and meditation classes to complement existing wellness initiatives. Think about testing a yoga class offering at an upcoming health and wellness fair or start with a once per week class for a period of 6-8 weeks, to gauge attendance and interest level. Ask employees what they prefer in terms of time of day (i.e. early morning before work, lunchtime or early evening). Consider offering healthy smoothies or a snack post-class, or company-branded water bottles that employees can use during class each week to compliment this new wellness offering. Connect with potential yoga teachers by reaching out to a local yoga studio to see if they can help identify a teacher who is interested in teaching corporate yoga and meditation.
For employees who may work from smaller satellite offices or work from home, consider offering company sponsored monthly subscriptions to a meditation app such as Headspace or a subscription to at home yoga classes, such as those offered by Yoga Today (full disclosure: the writer of this post is a blog contributor to Yoga Today!)
In addition to offering yoga and meditation tools, encourage mindfulness breaks once per hour via internal communications channels. Reiterate to employees that it is fully acceptable and looked upon favorably to take frequent, short breaks. Offer up five minute stretching exercises and breathing exercises to employees to keep the body and mind focused and relaxed throughout the day.
If there is an existing onsite exercise space, ensure that the space is yoga and meditation friendly, i.e. stocked with yoga mats, meditation pillows and blocks, and that employees are aware that these supplies are being offered as an extension to the company’s wellness initiatives.
Benefits to offering corporate yoga and meditation classes in the workplace
- It can boost the bottom line: According to Huffington Post, introducing yoga and meditation into the workplace can be very beneficial. “Limiting stress will translate into fewer employee absences, lower healthcare costs and higher morale, encouraging workers to stick around.”
- Convenience: Employees have the option to take advantage of an on-site offering verse trying to squeeze in an offsite lunchtime class or rushing to leave work for an early evening class. Offering a class onsite allows for ease of attendance and demonstrates that the company is widely accepting of employees taking time mid-day to decompress.
- Positive environment: Building a supportive and calm environment for self reflection within the workplace is tremendous; it speaks volumes to the company culture and shows that mindfulness is a priority.
Ensure that all employees feel comfortable
Before you roll out a yoga and meditation offering at your company, do your research first and make sure you are hiring a certified yoga teacher who has experience teaching in a corporate environment or has formerly worked in an office environment. Huffington Post brings up some interesting points for yoga teachers to be mindful of when teaching in a corporate setting versus in a traditional yoga studio, such as not physically adjusting students or introducing too much religious specific context. In general, being mindful of the audience is the key to ensuring that all employees feel welcome and comfortable. Prior to hiring a yoga instructor, double check that they are fully equipped and can adapt to a corporate setting.
Yoga and meditation as a movement is here to stay. Whether an employee is a seasoned yogi or a beginner, a corporate yoga offering will result in a more present and centered workforce that all employees will benefit from.