Namaste: Revolutionizing Wellness In The Workplace

9P1ZmaAoc1PRLrgM40hm81kUWEfx7AbSnEoDsbNySikPhoto: Courtesy Of Namaste.
Namaste New York is a concierge service that helps bring amazing yoga and wellness practitioners where they're needed. One of Namaste's most exciting endeavors is in workplace wellness. As Julie Wald, one of the founders of the company explains, "If we’re blurring the boundaries of leisure and work all the time, then we also need to create a lifestyle aspect in our corporate environment." Ahead, we discuss why wellness in the workplace can be so transformative and how a quick five-minute "desk yoga" session can turn your day around.
I think what’s so interesting about Namaste’s mission is the wellness programming that you bring into companies. Can you talk a little bit about what that entails? "We go into all different kinds of companies in every single industry across the board and we create customized programs based on the culture of that company: the personality of that company, the problems that company is facing, the needs of the company, the goals of the company. So, for example, we offer corporate massage where a massage therapist comes into the company every Friday and literally goes around desk-to-desk and office-to-office and works with employees to relieve back tension, neck pain, working with the hands and the arms. All of the stress and tension that’s gathered in the upper body and the lower back that comes from sitting at a desk and staring at a screen all day.
We also have programs where we do meditation seminars to teach employees how to focus their minds and how to clear their minds. We work with different meditation techniques to optimize their sense of well-being and make them more productive as employees, because they’re thinking more clearly and in a more “awake” way. We also go in and we do desk yoga, where we teach people how to do simple yogic stretches or breathing techniques to help maintain a sense of health and pain-free feeling in their bodies. The truth is that sitting at a desk all day is incredibly hard on people’s bodies."

What has been the success of these programs?
"I think that what people have found is that at the end of the day, wellness in the workplace has a huge return on investment. It helps to reduce a lot of health care costs, absenteeism, turnover, all of which cost a company a lot of money. But, it also can do things like really boost morale, and it’s interesting because morale in the corporate setting is always lower than employers think it is. So, just sort of taking care of people in the corporate setting can boost that morale, and it can help with team-building. Basically, corporate wellness is just good for business. That’s the bottom line."

embeddedPhoto: Courtesy Of Namaste.

Can you tell us a bit more about doing "desk yoga" and how that might benefit someone who sits at their desk all day? I know that applies to a lot of us.

"Right, you first start with mindfulness and breathing. We take people through a short routine that they can do throughout the day. Usually, it begins with a person checking in with posture, starting from their sitting bones and moving up to their spine, then up to the crown of their head. As they do this, they're softening their shoulders, softening the musculature of their face, and softening the musculature behind their eyes, which are staring at a screen all day long, so there’s a lot of stress there.

Next, we tune into their breathing, we notice how they’re breathing, slowly building that awareness. And, from there we integrate simple stretches. We work around the tension in the neck — working with the shoulders, doing side stretches. Everything can be done in the chair. We even work through the hands and the wrists, through each finger. We really go from head to toe. And, by the end of a five-minute sequence, people feel 100% better. It’s amazing."

Do you have any success stories that particularly stand out in your mind where people or companies really responded positively and noticed real results?
"Our corporate business employees are finding that it is such a useful tool for them to have in their workday. It becomes almost indispensable. For healthy businesses who want to continue to grow and evolve, our clients find that their employees are staying longer. They have good reason to not go looking for another job. We had one corporate client where one of the female employees wrote us an email essentially saying, 'My employer can thank you guys for me being such a loyal employee all these years. Because the offerings that you provide are now so essential to my life, and I would not be able to integrate them into my life if I left.'

One interesting point is that employees are expected to be available to their work or employer 24/7. People are answering emails at nine o'clock at night; they’re checking emails the second they roll out of bed in the morning. And, I think that if employers are expecting employees to be available 24/7, and the boundaries between work and private life are blurred, they have to also own the other side of it. If we’re blurring the boundaries of leisure and work all the time, then we also need to create a lifestyle aspect in our corporate environment, where people can take care of themselves in the workplace. Because we’re expecting them to take care of work in their personal space. It ends up being a win-win-win, where everyone feels like their needs are being met and as a result, their work and productivity is amazing."
Namaste offers service in NYC, The Hamptons, Westchester, Connecticut, and Palm Beach. Interested in checking out their office wellness services? You can find more info on their site.