Business of Well-being

Corporate Yoga ~ Revive your Wellness Program

We have come a long way from the days when corporate wellness programs were viewed as good-to-have rather than as a need-to-have. Indeed, employee wellness has become a strategic imperative for most organizations across the globe and not without reason. An increasing number of studies point to evidence that the returns on wellness programs go way beyond healthy and happy employees.

A study by Towers Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health shows that organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition than do those whose programs have low effectiveness (9% vs. 15%). On the other hand, an internal assessment by Johnson & Johnson found that the return on their wellness programs have been $2.71 for every dollar spent, resulting in cumulative savings of $250 million on health care costs for the company over the past decade.

Thus, the question no longer is 'why employee wellness' but 'how?'

As workplace wellness gradually becomes the norm, offering membership passes to a fitness centre is no longer enough to generate and sustain employee interest in wellness.  Employers are now riddled with the need to offer creative and comprehensive wellness facilities in order to bring about a real difference in employee health and more importantly, motivation.

Reviving Workplace Wellness

The same study by The National Business Group on Health also found that there is now a trend towards enhancing onsite programs aimed at stress management and holistic wellness. Since almost about 50% of corporate healthcare costs are said to be lifestyle related and therefore, potentially preventable, organizations not only want to spend on cure but also invest on prevention and good health. It is in this respect that the ancient science of Yoga has found preference in the corporate world as a comprehensive wellness prerogative, replacing all other healthcare investments.

A growing number of businesses are finding that offering Yoga to their employees is a low-cost, preventive and holistic healthcare measure, making the discipline a resonating success with human resource teams looking for strategic returns on their wellness investments. Regular practitioners of Yoga would stress that its many benefits include emotional wellness, improved strength, flexibility, balance and postural alignment amongst others.  

In the boardrooms of companies, Yoga adds dimensions such as stress reduction, energy-enhancement, enhanced creativity and focus and healing for employees and convenience and increased productivity for the employer.

Why Yoga?

Yoga is not just about being able to perform complicated poses and movements. It is a holistic approach to physical and mental health, as well as a person's well-being and personal growth. Corporate Yoga is the extended concept of working peacefully in the midst of a hectic corporate environment. An international report by the World Health Organization reveals that depression is the most disabling illness for the corporate sector, second only to cardio-vascular diseases.  

Long hours, multi-tasking, stiff competition, rigorous commute, irregular eating habits, sedentary desk jobs and bad sitting postures, all combine to create a pool of highly stressed, inefficient and thus despairing workforce. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that U.S. employers lose $70 billion a year due to absenteeism, lost productivity and disability caused by mental distress.

The benefits of corporate Yoga to encounter this malaise are unmatched by other wellness programs, as the very crux of the Yogic discipline is a mind-body balance.  It is the only form of exercise known to increase flexibility, strength, balance, concentration and breath capacity while reducing stress and anxiety.  Yoga also helps boost morale and interpersonal communication - which for an employer means no more bickering teams or dissatisfied individuals, power struggles or dirty politics.

There is conclusive evidence supporting the fact that offering even one Yoga session in a week brings about noted changes in employee behavior by helping them manage stress better, enhance clarity and creative thinking, improve communication skills, cultivate leadership and teamwork, and increase overall effectiveness in the workplace.

Yoga, Anytime, Anywhere

Perhaps the strongest reason for incorporating Yoga into your employees' wellness routine is the ease with which a corporate Yoga program can be implemented with any kind of resources. The only equipment required for a session of Yoga are some floor mats and a bunch of willing participants with a strong desire for a healthier, more fulfilled life.  A Yoga program can be conducted just about anywhere such as a conference room or an empty lunchroom.

What is even most interesting now is the development of online Yoga training that is fast gaining popularity with organizations across the globe.  The offering has added a new perspective to corporate wellness by making available world class Yoga training by experts in the confines of an office cubicle in any corner of the world.  Live and interactive Yoga sessions delivered right to the company's conference room with an assembly of participants is a glove-in-hand fit for most corporations as the sessions can be personalized to suit the timings and space constraints of companies as also the individual needs of participants.

Yoga in general is geared for people of all levels and age groups and can be tailored to address the needs of people with completely different fitness levels. Although it may sound simple, the creation of a yoga program, if you want it to be successful, requires serious commitment.

Here is what you must keep in mind while developing a corporate Yoga program:

  • Assess Employee Interest This is to ensure that there is sufficient interest and that enough number of people will sign up for Yoga classes once organized. You could ascertain this by sending out an email on the intranet and asking employees to confirm attendance or send an expression of interest.
  • Find a Yoga provider This is an extremely important process, as your Yoga instructor needs to be an experienced and capable person. It is recommended to find someone with at least five to ten years of experience in teaching Yoga. Once again, online Yoga sessions are highly beneficial since the issues of geographical and other boundaries become irrelevant on the worldwide web and one can choose to get trained by experts in the practice. Certain online offerings for example make it possible for one to organize a class instructed by gurus directly from India, the land of Yoga. If you can find someone to assist in nutrition and diet schedules as well, the overall benefits can be maximized.
  • Personalized sessions Do ensure that participants get to spend individual time with the instructor. It is important for every employee to take back something positive at the end of each class. Continuous monitoring through pre-assessment and post-assessment measurements to track improvements is essential.
  • Duration and length of sessions Six to eight week Yoga sessions with 15-20 classes work well but you could alter it depending on your budgets and requirements. For fresher's, signing up for even a one-week program with two or three classes is plausible. While it is possible to accommodate effective Yoga poses even in a 15-minute session, a 45 to 60-minute devoted practice works best for Yoga as it helps participants establish proper breathing and connect with the instructor. Eventually you need to remember that corporate Yoga should be designed to increase well-being for employees' optimal health, productivity and performance. It must thus be made accessible to people at all levels and offered in a safe and comfortable environment to pursue balance, healing and inner strength.

About the Author

Divine Wellness, is an online service provider of natural health solutions based on Indian wellness traditions. With a focus on personalized health assessment, the services leverage modern technology to provide revolutionary offerings such as live and interactive Yoga classes via HD video conferencing, live Ayurveda and nutrition consulting, innovative corporate wellness programs and a lot more. Within the first two years of its inception, the site has seen tremendous interest from users across the US, Canada, Australia, UK, and the Middle East.

Learn about how you can become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist→