Be it London, New York or any other major city and there is a high probability that you will hear about the importance of yoga and meditation. Surprisingly so, the loudest praise may actually be coming from the boardrooms of several major business sectors.
The activities once labeled as a “hippie” endeavor is now widely embraced by all walks of life. As of 2012, 15 million people across the world claimed to practice yoga. While the marriage of peace and calm with biotech or banking may seem odd, the two actually form a dynamic duo. The results have seen serenity from executives in the most demanding of roles, as well as reducing stress for hard working employees. The increase in mindfulness within the workplace represents a desire for improving health as well as increasing focus. The thought is that this will not only improve life for the individual, but also improve the company’s bottom line.
As Salesforce CEO and Founder Marc Benioff explained to CEO, “One of the most important things that any of us can do when we’re getting ready to create something, and when we want to make the world better, is first and foremost to take a step back,” he explains. “The next step I try to advise entrepreneurs to do is to clear your mind, make room for some new ideas, and get back to a beginner’s mind.” Yoga and meditation can do just that. Best of all, it can be tailored to the individual to fit their specific needs and demanding schedules. This has helped those initially hesitant to explore yoga due to time constraints or hang ups revolving around the spiritual aspect of the practice.
While some big name executives and managers swear by Transcendental Meditation, others feel fulfilled with a twenty minute session in their pajamas to start or end their day. In fact, even a five minute session has been proven to help reduce stress while improving circulatory issues that can arise from sitting at a desk all day. These activities have the potential to serve as an ideal team building exercise just as much as it can serve as a helpful solitary benefit for an individual. At high stress, heavy workload companies like Goldman Sachs, there have been reports that company classes have waiting lists exceeding 100 people to get into sessions. At more intimate companies and startups you can often find an employee leading weekly classes–bringing their interest into the company and watching the trend grow.
While the health initiative should be applauded, a company always has its eye on the bottom line–and the reports indicate mindfulness activities are improving the numbers as well. With an increased level of focus and lower level of stress, executives and employees alike are more prone to make the right decisions in their roles. However with a healthier workforce, companies are also likely to see a drop in sick days, resulting in less of a production drop during costly flu and cold seasons. With improvements on both fronts it should come as no surprise why the trend has infiltrated the boardrooms of businesses’ more open-minded executive