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Why bring yoga into the office?

By Kelly Prentice, Bija Initiative Owner

Yoga has developed quite the reputation, which ranges from “Ahhhhh, sounds blissful,” to “Ohhhh, brother!” One thing no one can deny, these days, is yoga’s potential to foster healing change. Countless scientific studies show the benefits of meditation and the impact of simple breathing practices on the human mind. In yoga, you clear a space within, and release chronic tension, which helps to reframe negative thought patterns and maintain positive mental and physical health.

You may have heard about Aetna’s famous pilot study offering its most stressed workers—who were costing the company thousands of dollars per year—access to yoga and meditation classes on site. The study found that employees who participated in the classes showed greater productivity and lower heart rates. Lower heart rates? Wow, that is amazing stuff. It’s been proven time and time again. Plus, it helped the company’s bottom line.

What’s not to like? You don’t think you have a problem at your workplace? Hmmm, consider this:

U.S. workers put in more hours on the job than the labor force of any other industrial nation, and nearly 40 percent of workers described their office environment as “most like a real life survivor program.” And did you know, Americans now work almost a month more annually than the Japanese and three months more than Germans?! (I was surprised, too. We surpassed the Japanese record in the 90s.)

Now, let me hit the pause button right here; if you are thinking, “Oh we’ve got that covered. We offer to pay for our employee’s gym membership.” Not the same. It’s been shown that inconvenient gym passes offered as part of a healthcare plan do not carry the same heft – for the employee or for the company. It’s just not targeted enough to the issue at hand – to the elephant in the room.

If you’re still asking, “What’s the elephant?” I’ll make it crystal clear: Deepak Chopra himself has identified STRESS as the number one epidemic of our civilization, and he says, “Stress is directly or indirectly connected to every other disease epidemic… costing us about 3.2 trillion dollars a year.” Demanding jobs and their stress does more than make us unhappy — it spurs serious health consequences. Chronic stress has been linked with negative health issues, including (but certainly not limited to) poor sleep quality, depression, weight gain, autoimmune issues, and chronic disease.

The numbers don’t lie. Results of the annual Labor Day survey, "Attitudes in the American Workplace VIII," (polling by Harris Interactive) show that more than eight in 10 Americans are stressed about their jobs. Nearly half of the workers polled say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42 percent say their coworkers need such help.

The good news is… You can make an impact! And you can do so with such a small investment. A simple program of yoga, meditation and nutrition can be delivered straight to your office door, in any space, at any time you choose. Unlike a weight lifting routine, it’s completely mobile and completely accessible to every one of your valued employees.

We believe that organizations are systems for change. Every place of work has a unique opportunity to influence lives. We’ve learned that from a time standpoint, what we do for work takes up the majority of our waking hours. Our work also influences our sense of self and purpose. Corporations have accountability systems that make it easier for people to make changes in their lives.

Together, we can do this. We can address the epidemic of chronic stress in American workplaces. By cultivating the health and wellness of your employees, you practice sustainability at its core. Contact me today to jump-start your on-site wellness program!

Bija Initiative ( offers personalized wellness services to businesses using the tools of mindfulness, meditation, yoga and nutrition. Contact me to design your office wellness suite today!

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