It’s evening at the Nature X – a wooden pavilion at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman. A yoga class is ongoing and a group of people lie flat on their backs on yoga mats, breathing gently. At the front of the class Robin, the teacher, is encouraging the group to let go of their day and to relax in the moment. He has just been leading the group in demanding yoga poses, and now they are happy to relax in this pose called the corpse pose. The group is partly made up of Nature Seychelles staff and they are in the yoga class as part of a wellness program introduced by the organisation.
Worldwide it is now well known that encouraging a workforce to pursue a healthier lifestyle through wellness programs is essential amid the rising costs of healthcare.
Corporate wellness programs have been shown to improve productivity, increase employee satisfaction, reduce tardiness and absenteeism, increase company loyalty and teamwork, and decrease stress, sickness and exhaustion.
Nature Seychelles provides a free wellness program to its Mahe based staff as part of its incentive package. Although an NGO, Nature Seychelles has pursued its path to excellence by following closely the best principles in corporate culture. We have found that successful organisations emphasise a work/life balance and improve their bottom line by creating a positive environment for all of their staff members.
The program is made up of fitness, meditation and yoga classes and is led by Robin Hanson, himself a member of staff. He has fashioned classes suitable for everyone whether at beginner or advanced level.
Apart from the classes, Robin has introduced simple exercise that can be done anywhere, even at a desk. These include wrist exercises that are good for relieving strain on wrists particularly for computer users, breathing techniques for relaxation and energising throughout the day and a general awareness of posture and seating position while in the office. Staff say they have benefitted enormously from the exercises.
“Most of us in the Mahe office are not field staff and we spend a lot of time behind a desk. And although our office is in a nice location, its really refreshing to be able to spend one and a half hours purposely exercising in nature, taking in the sounds and the smells,” says one.
“Mostly I have found it as a good de-stressing exercise after work. It has helped me build core muscles and loosen stiff joints,” says another.
“I was not very fond of some of the poses and I could feel resistance every time Robin asked us to do them. My downward dog was not up to par and I didn’t want to stand on my head – that’s what feet are for, I reckon. But now those poses are my favourites. And it’s amazing what they have done for me in terms of fitness.”
Apart from staff, the classes have an enthusiastic following and are held four times a week.