Injury Prevention and Mental Wellness Through a Consistent Yoga Practice

By Nicole Daley, Sr. Claims Consultant

The science of yoga has its origin thousands of years ago, well before the first religions or belief systems were born. A significant amount of research has been compiled regarding the many benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Much of this research is geared towards the connection of yoga to injury prevention and the psychological benefits of a consistent yoga practice.

In today’s fast paced environment many employers have implemented light stretching at the beginning of the workday for employees. A vast number of individuals practicing yoga today are athletes, both who compete at the major/national level, and those who are not anywhere near the major/national level at all. In fact, it is mandatory that our beloved Seattle Seahawks players maintain a consistent yoga practice. From my perspective, these players and employers have adopted a proactive approach to injury prevention.

As far as injury prevention, yoga is a great way to warm up tired muscles and improve flexibility, mindfulness, and balance. These elements aid in injury prevention in different ways. Flexibility assists in balancing out muscle strength, minimize resistance in tissue structure and improves range of motion in our joints. Focus helps to maintain attention on the present moment. Throughout our daily lives we perform quite a few day-to-day activities without much attention needed. By improving our focus, we are at less risk to mindlessly perform activities that could lead to injury, rather we become present and focused on what we are doing in that very moment. Increased balance is known to aid in reduction of injury. Increased balance improves an individual’s ‘proprioception’ – the mindfulness of their body and how it is moving at that moment.

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It is no secret that while on the job many of us employees face a variety of psychological stressors that can impact work performance. Stress has been linked as a factor causing tension and pain the shoulders, neck, back, eye straining and headaches. Practicing yoga can lead to a reduction in stress and alleviates tension in the muscles and pain throughout the body. A consistent yoga practice teaches us to use relaxation techniques, which can reduce overall stress and lessens the risk of on-the-job injuries.

On a personal note, I have been fortunate enough to maintain a consistent yoga practice for more than 12 years and have been a certified yoga instructor for the last 8 years…give or take. While performing the tasks of my “adult” job, I find myself seated for countless hours in front of a computer. This type of activity tends to develop a slouching and rounding of the shoulders. It also creates tension in the shoulders and neck…not to mention the eye strain which can lead to headaches. Yoga has, essentially eliminated my risk of developing these symptoms and warded off pain and discomfort. My yoga practice has kept my core strong, shoulders drawn down and back without needing queuing and my back muscles/spine elongated, healthy, and strong. Those, of course, are merely the physical benefits. I have found extraordinary benefits related to mental health and I tend to have an overall positive outlook on everything I encounter in the workplace, and in my personal life through a consistent yoga practice.

My hope for the reader is that you find encouragement to explore bringing yoga into your life and into the life of your employees. We can all stand to benefit from yoga, even when we are off the mat. The light in me honors and acknowledges the light in you. Namaste my friends.