For many of us, most of our waking hours are spent at work, sat at a computer for hours at a time or performing repetitive tasks which play havoc with our posture and leave us feeling stiff and tired. In many cases our working lives can result in more serious, long term health problems which not only affect personal lives but also cost employers millions of pounds in lost revenue annually. Many employers are now taking active measures to prevent work related illness and providing office yoga sessions is one way in which some workplaces in Sheffield are helping their staff.

According to the NHS, stress and back pain are the two biggest causes of absence from work in the UK. From 2010 to 2011, about 10.8 million days were lost to work related stress, depression or anxiety and around 7.6 million days to work related back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders[1]. Heavy workloads, concerns about job security, poor pay and poor physical working environments can all lead to stress at work, which in turn can lead to illness and long term sickness. Whilst, sitting for hours in front of a computer at uncomfortable chairs and poorly arranged work stations often leads to long term back problems.

Our working practices are not only having a detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing but lost working days cost the economy around £17 billion a year[2]. So, it is of huge importance to both employees and employers to tackle these problems. There are minimum requirements which employers must undertake to protect their staff such as risk and display screen assessments, however supporting and encouraging lifestyle changes can also help employers to prevent problems arising. Providing yoga sessions at the workplace may be one way in which employers can help to improve health and wellbeing.

In the last few months I have been pleased to work with 4 employers who wished to offer yoga sessions for their staff, to encourage more healthy working lives for their employees and I am pleased to report that they have all found a place for yoga at the office! Staff at Voluntary Action Rotherham, Wicker Pharmacy, Aizlewood Mill and the Electric Works have recently been attending weekly yoga sessions and feedback has been fantastic.

Participants have reported physical and mental benefits related to stress and posture which, as a teacher, were no surprise to me. Many of my students have commented on how much better they feel after a session, ready to go back and face the afternoon’s work, or quieter and more relaxed at the end of a busy day.

“The class has noticeably improved my posture and I feel happier and fresher tackling the afternoon after a proper break and change of scenery.”

“Sometimes work can be stressful and going to the class completely changes my feelings from stress to contentment before I go home.”

However, there were also other benefits to taking part in a work place session. The classes I am offering take place within the office environment either over lunchtime or straight after work, which means travel is cut out and the classes are more convenient for those who would otherwise struggle to find time to go to the gym or a studio.

“I’ve wanted to try yoga for years but with family commitments outside work, have no time to attend a gym or class. I would never have got around to doing it without this workplace scheme.”

It also offers a chance for colleagues to socialise, try something new together and get to know each other, therefore also providing a great team building opportunity!

“It has added an extra bond between those who attend the class.”

“It brings colleagues together – so great for team building in a fun way”

So, if you think your colleagues could benefit from yoga why not look into setting up a class at your workplace?


[1] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/workplaceoverview.aspx

[2] Based on figures from 2010: http://www.cbi.org.uk