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A NorthTec postgraduate student is advocating yoga as a tool for reducing workplace stress.
Luisa Pelissier, who is studying for a Graduate Diploma in Business, researched the use of yoga in the workplace for her industry project.
She decided to approach Manaia Health PHO, a non-profit organisation with an interest in healthcare, in order to research whether the discipline of yoga could be used as a valid stress-reducing tool.
Luisa worked with a group of nine volunteer staff, teaching 90-minute weekly classes and measuring their perception of its effect on their mental and physical wellbeing.
The study used the DASS 21 test (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale), an internationally-recognised set of three self-report scales designed to be used as a research tool.
Members of the group rated their levels of all three conditions both before and after the series of classes began. Most individuals rated their levels of stress, anxiety or depression as being lower than before the classes started, and as a group the levels fell by a significant amount.
The findings, involving a group of people who had never taken part in yoga before, indicated that overall levels of stress, anxiety and depression were significantly reduced following the eight-week programme.
International student Luisa, who is Italian, has taught yoga privately for several years. She specialises in Iyengar yoga, which emphasises aligning and fine-tuning postures to bring more energy into the body.
The group of volunteers said they found the practice beneficial and after the research programme was over, all decided to continue with yoga.
Luisa said her research of existing literature on the subject found several examples of workplaces where yoga had been successfully introduced as a means of managing stress and disease prevention.
While her own study backed this up, she believes that further research could show the extent of the benefits, both from a staff and financial perspective, within the workplace environment.
Luisa said: “The purpose of this industry project was to show how mindful practices, such as yoga and meditation, can reduce stress, which in turn can be beneficial for any business organisation.
“The reason I focused my attention on stress is because it can negatively affect our mental and physical health and, if not addressed, can trigger inflammation in our body, from which many serious illnesses can originate. Hence my interest in looking at how to monitor stress, its negative responses and how to prevent stress-related diseases, which translate into absenteeism and poor or negative relationships with co-workers in the work environment.”
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