For many people, yoga and Pilates are things that other people do; the preserve of alternative communities and not quite their cup of tea. But the truth of the matter is that both yoga and Pilates offer huge benefits for all types of people, both in terms of physical health and mental well-being.

There has been a lot of research into the benefits of yoga and Pilates, especially in the workplace. These include improved posture, increased energy and productivity, and a greater sense of well-being. Research is, of course, a wonderful thing, but we know first-hand how wonderful yoga and Pilates have been for our clients.

I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few extra classes during Covid times. One that I’m particularly enjoying is a new office group. They were used to having a lengthy commute, but on the other hand, they shared office space, meeting rooms, water-cooler moments and the odd drink after work. This, of course, changed dramatically during lockdown. From lots of physical contact to sharing the odd Zoom meeting. 

Nobody minded working from home. The company saved a lot on office rental, and everyone enjoyed not having to commute. However, their boss (who is a student of mine) was still very aware of the importance of doing something to bring everyone together and was concerned about the mental and physical wellbeing of his employees, so we started weekly yoga classes on Zoom. 

It’s a small company and it’s wonderful to see how happy everyone is to see each other. At first, it seemed to be one of the few times in the week that they would take a break from their desk and chair, but it does encourage them to be generally more active in their days, to move around a little more, and to take mini-breaks. They love to move and stretch and find moments of quietness and relaxation. Gradually, they tell me, they are going for more walks at lunchtime, incorporating some of the stretches into their day, and becoming more aware of their posture. They are finding it easier to relax. And they are still really pleased to see each other! 

What can YOU do about your posture?

Typically, when someone is sitting at a computer all day, an unhealthy posture develops. This will automatically relate to productivity because if the spine is compressed, the organs are compressed and one’s general energy and mood will also feel deflated. On a very simple anatomical level, the lungs will not have so much space, so your cells and tissues won’t be so well oxygenated. On an emotional level, a compressed chest/slouchy posture makes cheerfulness much more difficult. On an energetic level, your life force moves more easily in an upright aligned open body.

Here are some easy moves to improve your posture:

  • Sit up straight, interlace your fingers, straighten your arms, and press your palms away from you. Now raise your arms above your head. Feel your side ribs lift and expand. Repeat with your hands interlaced the other way (your other index finger next to your thumbs). 
  • Interlace your hands behind your back, keep your lower back steady, roll your upper arms out, lift your breastbone and stretch your arms back. Play a little here. Gently move the head from side to side to release the neck, continuing to lift the arms and moving them from side to side, or make fists with your hands. Allow your chest to open and broaden.
  • A simple chair twist is an excellent way to relieve desk-induced stiffness in your back, ribs and shoulders. Move your neck gently too but let your chest lead rather than your head. How you do this will vary depending on the type of chair you have but generally you should sit upright with your feet hip width apart, parallel, and on the floor. Bring one hand to your desk and the other hand onto the seat behind you (or if there isn’t space to the side of the chair). Breath in and sit tall, breathe out and turn away from the arm on the desk (left hand on the desk means turn to the right). Take a few breaths there in the same manner and then swap arm positions and repeat on the other side.

If you would like to have a chat about yoga or Pilates classes for your employees, and the ways in which these can increase engagement in the workplace and create a greater sense of wellbeing for you and the people you work with, please contact Robin and Emma any time on +44 20 8452 8322 or at info@breatheyoga.co.uk