Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

An ancient answer to a stressful workday

TAMPA

Related News/Archive

It's noon on a Thursday at the venerable Fowler White Boggs law firm — time for employees to put their trials behind them and become "one" with the universe, or at least get in some really great stretching.

In the muted light of the firm's old law library, New Age music undulates softly as Marisa Santino, in soothing tones, leads about 15 employees through a workout program that's more than 2,000 years old.

Yoga, the mind and body discipline developed in ancient India, has become a staple of the high-stress American workplace. Morgan & Morgan law firm, Banker Lopez Gassler law firm, TECO Energy Inc., MetLife and the University of Tampa are among local employers offering to nourish the spirit during lunch break.

"It's become less touchy-feely and more accepted by the mainstream,'' says Maryanna Klatt, an Ohio State University professor who developed a stress-lowering program for workers that emphasizes yoga. In the last five years or so, she says, a lot of companies became convinced of yoga's benefits in reducing stress-related illness, such as migraine headaches and backaches.

"They realize it's a low-cost, high-yield investment for their employees.''

TECO pays for the yoga classes offered at its downtown Tampa office, so employees partake for free. Many employers, however, choose to subsidize the classes; employees usually pay a small fee. At Fowler White Boggs, it's $4 per person per session. At University of Tampa, a $50 yearly fee for the fitness center covers the cost of yoga.

Twenty minutes a day of workplace meditation and yoga, plus an hourlong group session once a week, lowered stress among participants by 10 percent and improved the sleep quality of workers who sit at desks all day, according a 2009 study Klatt published in the journal Health Education & Behavior.

TECO offers four yoga sessions a week at its downtown offices, two taught by an on-site instructor and two with video instruction. Matt Wadephul, a fitness specialist for the company, says TECO also offers aerobics and other workouts, but yoga draws consistent attendance. Ten die-hards rarely miss.

"It really helps them to de-stress and relax," Wadephul says, "especially if they're having a rough day.''

Hala Sandridge, 51, an appellate lawyer at Fowler White, says she and most of the other regulars were new to yoga when they started two years ago.

"We all became converts when they offered it here at Fowler White.''

It's a great stretching workout for people who sit at desks all day, she says, but it's more than that.

"I consider it both emotional and physical.'' Sandridge uses the breathing techniques to relax at various times during the day.

Sherry Lyon, 70, the firm's receptionist, says she feels the effects all afternoon after a yoga workout.

"It peps me up. Instead of tiring you, it does just the opposite.''

Roland Licona, a computer troubleshooter for the firm, spent years under the care of a chiropractor to relieve his chronic back pain, he says. After a few weeks of taking yoga, he was surprised during a workout to hear his bones pop and feel the relief in his lower back. Licona, 48 — a back pain sufferer since an injury at age 17 — realized he no longer needed the chiropractor.

''Someone gave me a tool kit to maintain my back health.''

Santino, 34, a paralegal who leads yoga sessions at three firms as owner of Rising Sun Yoga, believes yoga breaks will become more commonplace at work as companies realize the benefits.

"At the end of the day, I think people do better at their jobs because they can handle stress better,'' she says, noting that the results show in an employee's productivity and interaction with others.

"Overall, it's just better for the world.''

Philip Morgan can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or pmorgan@sptimes.com.

An ancient answer to a stressful workday 10/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]