It doesn’t seem like twisting your body into odd shapes and trying to stay quiet for an hour would be that beneficial to your career, but you may be surprised. There has to be a reason 20.4 million Americans (or 8.7 percent of adults) are doing yoga and so many Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Nike and HBO offer it to employees. It can’t just be for the excuse to wear stretchy pants.
It turns out there are some major career benefits that happen as a result of practicing yoga. Here are some of the big ones:
1. It helps improve your relationships with co-workers. Yoga helps clear your mind, which allows you to be more understanding of your co-workers’ intentions. And then you are better able to choose your actions to align with those intentions.
2. You can accept change better. A big part of yoga is changing the position of your body. These transitions can be very challenging at first and require a lot of deep breathing (and some wobbling), but eventually you will stick it. This will help when there is shifting at work or new procedures being rolled out. You will be able to find that inner stability faster because of yoga.
3. It makes you more ambitious. When you first started yoga and your teacher suggested doing an inversion (a position in which the head is below the heart such as a headstand, a handstand, a forearm stand or a shoulder stand), you went running for the door. But after a couple of months, you could do them or at least you wanted to try to do them. You quickly realized you were capable of more than you ever thought you were. This will overflow into your career as well. The possibilities are endless!
4. You will learn to block out distractions. Yoga is great because it is all about learning to center yourself and block out all those distractions during your practice. Then you take that power of meditation into everyday life, like when your co-worker is coughing incessantly and that darn construction outside your window seems to never end. According to a study from the University of Washington, meditation increases your ability to work through interruptions. “Having such skill might therefore give users the choice to stay with the current task longer, rather than responding to each interruption immediately,” the authors wrote in their study.
5. It reduces stress. Yoga helps you become less of a stress mess in a few ways. It really helps you focus on the value of your work, rather than obsessing about the outcome. This will carry over into work and help you realize you can’t always control the outcome, so why stress? The other benefit is more physiological. Because yoga (unlike most other workouts) ends with a meditation period, you enter a state of relaxation that can literally keep you that way through the rest of the day, meaning nothing will stress you!
6. It improves memory. Doing yoga will give you a sharper memory which is super helpful for work and life in general. According to a study called “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment”, the practice of meditation correlates with memory improvement. Better memory leads to decreased distraction which will therefore help with productivity.