Health and Wellness

A 5-Minute Movement Break Can Improve Your Focus

April 12, 2021

When you're feeling overwhelmed at work or experiencing an afternoon slump, chances are your mind and body could benefit from a short break.

Ben Greenfield, a biohacker, human performance consultant, and New York Times bestselling author talks about the importance of taking “movement snack breaks” during your workday. According to Ben, movement is one of the most important aspects of aging well, staying fit, and reaching optimal levels of physical and mental performance. In its simplest terms, more movement equates to a better life, and more movement is within everyone’s reach. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that with our sedentary lifestyle and pandemic lockdowns, we’re moving less and less. Sedentary behavior is linked to a host of health concerns including weight gain, decreased brain health, and increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression.

But we can reverse these effects by incorporating simple “movement snack breaks” throughout our day. We snack on food all day long, so why not have a series of  5-minute movement snacks as well? And instead of heading over to your treadmill or jumping on your stationary bike, why not make your movement snack a yoga break?

Benefits of a Yoga Break at Work

Choosing yoga for your movement break is a great choice because:

  • It requires very little or no equipment.
  • It won’t make you work up a sweat as many yoga styles are low-intensity.
  • You can even take your yoga break while sitting at your desk!

What should you expect after your yoga breaks? You'll receive lots of benefits, including:

  • Lower stress levels

Studies show that yoga lowers the level of cortisol, the primary stress hormone in the body. By lowering your cortisol, you can move out of “flight, fight or freeze” mode and into a space of receptivity. This helps you see new solutions and take in new information. Want to solve those thorny work dilemmas? Do more yoga.

  • Better cognitive ability

A 2019 study on yoga and brain plasticity reports improved attention, processing speed, and executive function measures for people practicing yoga. This means you can think faster, have more focus, and make better decisions. Looking for a promotion at work? Do more yoga.

  • Better brain health

This same report includes a review of 11 studies showing that yoga practitioners had more gray matter volume in their brains than their counterparts who did no yoga. This is great news for yoga practitioners because gray matter volume, the neural tissue of the brain and spinal cord, has been linked to better mental function. Gray matter is also linked to higher cortical thickness. This is more good news as cortical thickness, the outermost layer of the brain, has been linked to higher intelligence.  Want to be smarter? Do more yoga.

Is 5 Minutes Really Enough?

The answer is yes, it is. Kundalini Yoga outlines that as little as three minutes can affect your electromagnetic field, your circulation, and the stability of your blood. This is why you see many Kundalini Yoga meditations with a three-minute duration.

The benefits of lower stress, better cognitive ability, and better brain health all start to activate even during a very short practice. And if you take multiple yoga breaks during your day, you’ll be surprised how fast it adds up. Just three yoga breaks can easily get you to a 15-minute practice.

Getting Started

To get the most out of your yoga snack strategy, make sure you build these tiny habits into your day either by logging them as appointments in your calendar or managing them through alerts or a timer. The goal is at least two yoga breaks a day, although the more you take, the more benefits you will reap.

With your new yoga snack strategy, your work productivity is sure to see some impressive gains. Let us know how it goes!

Let's practice!

If you want a simple breath-focused or meditation practice, start with YogaToday's Five Elements collection offering short pranayama and meditation practices (the meditations are free for everyone). Or, if you want something more physical, try the Free Warrior Pose Series where you can focus on a single pose for each yoga break.