An acquaintance of mine is a yoga teacher and when she operated her own studio, several times she encouraged me to come try out the practice. When I told her I couldn’t possibly do yoga because I’m about as flexible as the Tin Man before Dorothy found him and loosened his rusted joints with oil, she said that was like expecting to perform a triple Axel jump the first time you put on skates.

While she didn’t convince me at that time — in part because I prefer to exercise solo – eventually I did try yoga using a video at home. And I liked it! At first I couldn’t do many of the poses, but as my yoga teacher friend pointed out, one shouldn’t expect to be an expert the first time!

Incorporating exercise into my daily routine – sometimes yoga, sometimes aerobic activity, sometimes weight training – has been a great way to reduce stress in my life.

Workplace stress costs both the employee and the organization, through errors, absenteeism, health issues, conflict, low morale, high staff turnover, accidents, low productivity, inability to concentrate, and poor decisions. Stress overload can lead to high blood pressure, risk of heart attack, risk of stroke, depression, headaches and migraines, fatigue, apathy, and irritability.

Velsoft’s Stress Management softskills course emphasizes four pillars that support workplace stress management. These are good nutrition; exercise; strong, supportive relationships; and relaxation techniques.

Yoga combines both exercise and relaxation techniques, through stretching, deep breathing, and meditation or relaxation. Originating in India, yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit, and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.

Today is the International Day of Yoga, as proclaimed by the United Nations in 2014. The Day aims to raise awareness of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

Some of these include:

  • Strengthening and toning muscles
  • Balancing hormones
  • Cleansing and flushing the internal systems of the body
  • Calming the mind
  • Decreased stress and tension
  • Increased strength and balance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced cortisol levels
  • Enhanced mood and overall sense of well-being

In The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Management, wellness coach Elizabeth Scott notes that: “Virtually everyone can see physical benefits from yoga, and its practice can also give psychological benefits, such as stress reduction and a sense of well-being, and spiritual benefits, such as a feeling of connectedness with God or Spirit, or a feeling of transcendence. Certain poses can be done just about anywhere and a yoga program can go for hours or minutes, depending on one’s schedule.”

“Studies show that the most effective ways in which yoga targets stress are by lifting your mood (or positive affect), by allowing for increased mindfulness, and by increasing self-compassion. By simultaneously getting us into better moods, enabling us to be more focused on the present moment, and by encouraging us to give ourselves a break, yoga is a very effective stress reliever.”

Dr. Ned Hartfiel and Rhiannon Tudor Edwards write in an article for The Conversation, entitled Yoga in the Workplace Can Reduce Back Pain and Sickness Absence: “In the US, about a quarter of all major employers deliver some form of meditation or yoga, but it has yet to be taken up so widely in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Insurance company Aetna, for example, offers free yoga classes to its 55,000 employees, with reported annual savings of US$2,000 (£1,520) per head in healthcare costs and a US$3,000 (£2,280) gain per person in productivity. Preventing back pain makes economic sense all round. Yoga seems not only good for employees and employers, but also for the economy.”

As part of International Yoga Day, take time to practice yoga today – whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned practitioner – and if you don’t already have one, talk to your employer about starting a yoga program for employees or at least thinking about well-being and ways to reduce stress in the workplace. (Velsoft’s Stress Management course can also help with this.) You will benefit, and your workplace will too!


Yoga facts from Soul and Spirit magazine:

  • Asana (the physical postures) are a small part of what yoga encompasses. Meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques), chanting, and living a life of meaning, purpose and kindness are also a part of yoga.
  • The postures help to strengthen muscles and remove tension, and the breathing practices encourage us to take in more oxygen, boosting circulation and improving the body’s function. As we start to slow down the movements and the breath, the body’s functions such as oxidization, acidity and cell damage slows down too, which also means it has time to repair and renew itself – preventing and essentially slowing down the ageing process!
  • Yoga was traditionally a practice for men. Women were only introduced after revered teacher Krishnamacharya allowed his wife to join practices.
  • More than 100 different styles of Yoga exist, ranging from the more traditional tantra, ashtanga, sivananda and ‘hatha’, to laughter yoga, aerial yoga, kitten yoga and paddleboard yoga.
  • Namaste is a traditional greeting usually said at the end of class, and literally translates as ‘the light in me bows to the light in you’, symbolizing a mutual respect.
  • The Savasana position, also known as ‘corpse pose’ and used at the end of class, is intended to rest the body and nervous system in order to allow the practice to consolidate within us, recognizing that the body needs time to renew and recharge.