The 8 Winter Healers of Yoga and how they help in the workplace

There’s definitely something about yoga and the way it holistically embraces all that is good in this world. All that is good in us. It affects us in mind, body and spirit. It teaches us to be observant and find balance in our lives.

Wikipedia matter of factly says, “Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India.” Even when we take out all the fancy words it still boils down to one thing: Yoga works as an all-over workout of body, mind and spirit.

Yoga was originally practiced as an ancient form of healing. Now it has been proven to enhance concentration and motivation, increase self-confidence, strengthen the immune system, ease digestion, and relieve anxiety, stress and depression. If everyone on the planet practiced some yoga every week, the world would be a calmer, happier and more positive place. That is a simple fact!

For all of the reasons above, yoga is ideal to practice in winter. A season that generally brings with it viruses in the form of colds and flu. The weather forces us indoors and we don’t get enough fresh air and sunshine. This often leads to a feeling of doom and depression. When we wake up to go to work it is still dark outside and when we leave work at the end of the day we drive home in the dark. It feels very long. Stress builds up and we get sick.

Practicing yoga helps combat the winter blues. But when do we find the time? Why not form a group at work and pay a yoga instructor to come and teach you at the office? That’s the beauty of yoga, anyone can do it and it can be practiced almost anywhere. Find a yoga organisation that specialises in bringing yoga into the workplace. Read more about it here.

An ideal form of yoga to practice at work is called Ashtanga (ashta = 8 and anga = limb) or the 8 Limbs. This method of yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures which ultimately work to strengthen the body and calm the mind.

The 8 limbs of yoga together form a moral or ethical code and when practiced regularly help us live happier, more meaningful lives. Each limb focuses on a different aspect of this code. Here we look at the name of each limb, what defines it and how it benefits us.

Yamas look outwards at how we relate to others. The yamas are expressed as 5 moral  constraints:

  1. Ahimsa (non-harming)
  2. Satya (truthfulness)
  3. Asteya (non-stealing)
  4. Bramacharya (moderation)
  5. Aparigraha (generosity)

Benefits: Practicing the Yamas helps with strength and flexibility. These age-old positions help you find inner-peace, calm and happiness therefore eliminating stress.  

Niyamas are how we relate to ourselves. They are expressed as 5 observances:

  1. Sauca (purity)
  2. Santosa (contentment)
  3. Tapas (self-discipline)
  4. Svadhyaya (self-study)
  5. Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to the divine)

Benefits: The Niyamas work with the yamas and provide the same benefits.

Asanas are the various postures practiced in yoga. They assist us in developing good discipline and concentration. This is how we master the body so that we can sit still to meditate for long periods of time.

Benefits: These postures help with flexibility, strength and balance. They alleviate stress and anxiety, and reduce the symptoms of lower-back pain. The Asanas are excellent for people who have desk jobs.

Pranayama are breathing techniques which are designed to help with physical and mental balance. Practicing to breathe correctly is something you can do anywhere.  

Benefits: By learning to breathe properly through the practice of yoga, we start to become more alert, self-aware and calm. Breathing helps us to focus on the here and now. It opens us up and allows for more oxygen to reach our brain. This helps us to immediately eliminate stress and anxiety, and think more clearly.

Pratyahara is a conscious effort to draw awareness away from the external world, away from all the distractions and focus on the internal process. This allows us to see where we are resisting anything or giving in to cravings and negative emotions.

Benefits: When you get Pratyahara right you will know the true value of meditation as you reach a profound state of relaxation, expanded self-awareness and inner stability. Practicing Pratyahara will help you master both the body and the mind. It is the ultimate state of deep relaxation and replenishment.

Dharana is concentration. After removing ourselves from outside distractions, the mind can be focused on a point, idea or object. You can practice Dharana anywhere and at anytime you need to.

Benefits: Dharana teaches you to strengthen your mind against distractions and focus better. It helps concentration and makes you more productive.

Dhyana is uninterrupted awareness. Whereas dharana is one-pointed attention, dhyana is being fully aware or mindful without focus. It’s about opening up to everything effortlessly and calmly.

Benefits: Dharana helps strengthen muscles and make us more flexible. It boosts energy levels and recharges the brain.

Samadhi is a profound interconnectedness with all living things. This only comes after regular practice. It means you are advanced in your meditation techniques.

Benefits: Once you have achieved the practice of Samadhi you will have achieved enlightenment which is the ultimate goal of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. This means that you are able to remain mentally and physically balanced. You will have eliminated all negativity out of your life. You will be the very definition of health and wellbeing.

Don’t allow stress to deplete you this winter. Practice group yoga at work to eliminate the workplace blues. Learn the 8 Limbs, which once mastered can be practiced anywhere. Want a yogi to help get you started? Contact us and we’ll send an instructor plus the yoga mats.