Dec. 2 2010 12:00 AM

Long hours, deadlines, finances, politics, personalities and confinement – let's face it: Work is stressful. Most employees deal with their stress with a break of some kind and usually not a healthy one — the extra café latte, a cigarette, a few martinis after work — whatever they can do to wind down, blow off some steam and attempt relaxation.

As personal trainers, fitness instructors and exercise counselors, we can help teach those stressed on the job a better way to relax and get healthy. The problem is that many times the people who need us most will not even make the time to go to the gym. "Too busy." "Don't want to get sweaty." "No time." — We hear these a lot. The answer: We need to go to them.

Employee turnover, absenteeism and stress-related illness are all results of stress that does not get released properly — mentally as well as physically. And they cost a company money. Most stress is a mental pressure exerted onto our physical bodies, especially in the corporate setting where people are working furiously with their minds, not their bodies. To go into a gym and just work the physical body is still unbalanced. The body and the mind need to be worked and brought together for a sense of peace, calm and relaxation.

That's why yoga is the perfect tool for transforming the workplace into a less stressful, more peaceful environment. The nature of the practice is physical and mental — focus, concentration, discipline and a state of oneness come from and are needed to practice yoga. The results and components get better with regular practice and the by-product is a better physical body and more relaxed mindset.

As a group fitness instructor, personal trainer or exercise coach who has studied yoga, you can take matters into your own hands. These employees are too stressed to add any activity to their days, but if their employers can open up the time, there's a better chance of reaching them. Approach corporations, outline the benefits of yoga. Once businesses understand the money they are losing through stressed and tired-out workers, outline how an investment in your yoga program will more than pay for itself. Off er programs that fit into the company's schedule and reach the maximum number of employees with the minimal impact on their workdays.

Targeting businesses allows you to reach out to a market that needs your services but can't make the time to enlist them on their own. You get more business, the company gets less stressed and more productive employees and employees get the peace of mind and relaxation that yoga has to offer.

A win for everyone!

Beth Shaw, E-RYT, BS, CMT, is the president and founder of YogaFit. She has been showcased in numerous fitness magazines and shows including Oprah's O magazine, Time, CNN, NBC and more. Shaw is an animal rights activist and the innovative educator and entrepreneur responsible for more than 30 DVDs and CDs.

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