Article: Fit & Fab Friday: Leaders, elevate your heart health with these 5 chair yoga

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Fit & Fab Friday: Leaders, elevate your heart health with these 5 chair yoga

Become role models of wellness in your workplace by incorporating these quick and easy chair yoga poses, proven to elevate your heart health.
Fit & Fab Friday: Leaders, elevate your heart health with these 5 chair yoga

Jobs, regardless of the field and position, come with inherent stress. Despite numerous efforts to cultivate more holistic workplaces, one role that tends to derive the least advantage from these initiatives is leadership. Leaders find themselves preoccupied with stress about their team, the business, and various other issues, regardless of the time or day.

Decades of stressful work can contribute to a range of health issues, including a significant risk of coronary heart disease. A research article published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes delved into 18 years of data from over 6,400 participants. The findings revealed that men exposed to high-stress work environments face twice the likelihood of developing heart disease, leading to potential complications such as heart attacks.

In men, the experience of either job strain correlated with a 49% elevated risk of coronary heart disease. The study's findings regarding women were inconclusive, but experts emphasised that women are not immune to the impacts of stress. While estrogen may offer some protective effects, the study acknowledges that the impact on women may manifest later than in men. 

Can chair yoga help?

Another study by the British Medical Journal found that practicing chair yoga and meditation significantly reduced stress levels compared to not practicing them. The calming effects lasted even after the practices were done. Yoga increased heart rate, while meditation lowered it. Breathing rate also decreased during both activities. Some aspects of heart rate variability were better in the yoga and meditation groups compared to the control group. Other studies have shown that practicing yoga can help people concentrate better, reduce stress, and improve performance at work.

Importance of leaders’ wellbeing

Leadership plays a crucial role in promoting employee well-being within a company. When leaders actively support wellness initiatives, it sends a strong message to the entire workforce. By incorporating wellness practices into their own schedules, leaders become role models, encouraging others to prioritise their health. Whether it involves participating in wellness challenges, engaging in quick yoga or meditation sessions, or advocating for breaks and restorative activities, leaders who visibly prioritise wellness foster a culture where employees feel supported to do the same. 

Additionally, integrating chair yoga into your daily routine can significantly benefit heart health. Beyond providing an opportunity to stretch and relax, chair yoga contributes to cardiovascular well-being, highlighted Pradeep Mehta, founder and Yoga Teacher at Samsara Wellness, in an exclusive interview with People Matters. Mehta shared the advantages of chair yoga, along with five heart-boosting poses that can be easily incorporated into your office routine.

5 chair yoga poses you can do in office

1. Veerabhadrasana (Warrior Pose)

  • Align your palms in Anjali Mudra.
  • Stabilise by pushing the floor through the outer edge of your back foot.
  • Balance your weight equally between both feet.
  • Lengthen your spine.
  • Lift your arms overhead, aligning them with your ears.
  • Hold the posture for 5 to 10 breaths.

Statistics show that incorporating warrior poses into your yoga routine can enhance cardiovascular endurance. A study conducted by the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health found that participants who regularly practiced warrior poses experienced a significant improvement in heart health markers.

2. Marjariasana (Cat-Cow Stretch)

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with flat feet.
  • Ensure a straight back, aligning with the chair's backrest.
  • Place hands on knees or thighs.
  • Inhale, arching your back, chest forward, and chin slightly up.
  • Exhale, round your spine, bring chin to chest.
  • Contract abdominal muscles, tuck pelvis under.
  • Feel upper back stretch during exhale.

Research published in the Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy suggests that the cat-cow stretch helps improve circulation and reduces the risk of cardiovascular issues. The gentle movement of the spine in this pose contributes to increased blood flow, promoting heart health.

3. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

  • Sit on the edge of a chair with feet hip-width apart.
  • Plant feet firmly into the ground.
  • Straighten the spine, aligning with the chair's backrest.
  • Extend arms sideways, parallel to the ground.
  • Mimic Tadasana alignment, reaching upward through the crown.
  • Maintain the pose for several breaths.
  • Release and return to a comfortable seated position.

The Tadasana, even when adapted for a seated position, aids in maintaining proper posture, benefiting heart health indirectly. A survey conducted by the American Heart Association revealed that good posture positively correlates with a reduced risk of cardiovascular problems.

4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

  • Sit on the chair with legs extended in front.
  • Keep feet together and toes pointing up.
  • Inhale, lengthening the spine.
  • Exhale, hinge at hips, reaching toward toes.
  • Hold the stretch for a few breaths.
  • Inhale, return to an upright position.
  • Repeat as needed for a gentle stretch.

The seated forward bend has been linked to stress reduction, a key factor in heart health. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, individuals who regularly practice forward bends experienced lower cortisol levels, contributing to improved heart function.

5. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Half Spinal Twist)

  • Sit on the chair with a straight spine.
  • Cross one leg over the other at the knee.
  • Inhale, lengthen spine; exhale, twist towards crossed knee.
  • Hold the twist, feeling the stretch in the spine.
  • Release and switch legs to repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat the twist on both sides as desired.

Ardha Matsyendrasana, adapted for a seated position, offers a delightful stretch to the spine and contributes to heart health. Studies published in the International Journal of Yoga highlight its positive impact on arterial function. This gentle spinal twist stimulates abdominal organs, supporting digestion, a factor indirectly linked to heart health according to the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Anjali Mudra

Lastly to end with Anjali Mudra. “It is performed at the end of every stretch or yoga practice, fosters unity of mind and body, bringing closure to the session while promoting gratitude, mindfulness, and a sense of completeness,” advised Pradeep Mehta. 

“Incorporating chair yoga into your work routine doesn't just alleviate the physical strain of sitting for extended periods; it also nurtures your heart health. The provided statistics underscore the connection between these chair yoga poses and cardiovascular well-being. So, the next time you find yourself caught up in the demands of office life, take a moment to embrace these heart-boosting poses and prioritise your well-being. After all, a healthy heart is a happy heart,” he concluded. 

Introducing Fit & Fab Friday – a segment for leaders, featuring expert tips on wellbeing, lifestyle, professional etiquette, and much more. Tune in every Friday for insights that elevate your leadership persona. Feel free to share your feedback or requests at samriddhi.s@gopeoplematters.com or connect with me on LinkedIn

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Topics: Others, Leadership, #HRCommunity, #Wellbeing, #HRTech

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