If you’re still looking for a New Year’s resolution, look within. Think about what you, your body and your mind really need. If you’re anything like me, it’s stress management. In 2017, I’m committing to mind and body health. How? By practicing more yoga.

Public relations professionals in particular can find enormous benefits from yoga. It offers a reprieve from everyday stress. It allows you (forces you, even) to step away from your phone and email (believe it or not, you’ll survive). It allows you to close your eyes and just focus on breathing – not that 2017 PR Plan looming over your head or that tight reporter deadline. Just your breath. It’s amazing what that simple focus can do, and funny that we often need an instructor standing at the front of the room to remind us of that.

When I found (and fell in love with) yoga about five years ago, it was amazing how much I needed it, but never knew. As a former Division I college athlete, I had been searching for a new athletic niche. Yoga proved to be the perfect combination of physical and mental health. A perfect, but very important and often overlooked, balance.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are 8 reasons why PR professionals should practice yoga:

  1. You deserve it. That’s one lesson yoga has taught me —that I deserve this me time. Everyone deserves to focus on themselves, and if we aren’t forced to by an instructor, we often don’t.
  2. You don’t even know you need it. You may think you have your stress levels under control, but chances are, you check your email at least 100 times per day, suffer from tech neck (constantly looking down at your phone), manage a dizzying to-do list and may not even realize how much stress you’re carrying in your body.
  3. It will improve your health. Ever since I started practicing regularly, I’ve suffered fewer ailments. It has also helped manage back pain from an old injury. In fact, according to Yoga Journal, coming in and out of yoga postures increases the drainage of lymph (a viscous fluid rich in immune cells), which helps fight infection, destroy cancerous cells, and dispose of natural toxins.
  4. It will make you happier. I love watching the blissful faces of those leaving yoga class. Yoga can’t help but make you happy. Instructors are typically positive people, and positivity breeds positivity. It’s a contagious environment of support, acceptance and happiness. Studies show that consistent yoga practice can decrease depression.
  5. You’ll sleep better. Ever lay in bed worrying about tomorrow’s meetings and wondering what details you’re forgetting? Yoga will prepare your body for a restful nights sleep.
  6. You’ll get stronger. In a world of crossfit devotees, many assume yoga is not for serious fitness enthusiasts, or that it’s not a hard workout. Think again. Challenge yourself to take advanced classes, do inversions and try hot yoga. In a short time, your core body strength will improve dramatically, helping you gracefully carry all those boxes backstage at PR events.​
  7. It will decrease your stress. Promise. But don’t take it from me —Yoga Journal writes that yoga lowers cortisol levels, A.K.A., the stress hormone.
  8. It will help you focus. Working on a lengthy byline article or presentation? Step away, practice yoga, and then return to your computer with a clear, fresh mind.

With a career as demanding as public relations, we all need to find that inner peace. Something that allows us to step away, turn off our brain and let go of what doesn’t serve us. Yoga offers a sense of community, a shared experience, a collective peace.

To me, there’s no better way to end a work day than lying amongst strangers in a dimly lit hot yoga room in savasana pose (the closing pose of a practice where you fully rest). How amazing would it be if you and your colleagues just lied down in the middle of the day for a 15-minute silent savasana? A girl can dream.

#Namaste.

– Brooks Wallace

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