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Dru Yoga for Wellbeing and Resilience to Stress

by Jane Clapham(more info)

listed in yoga, originally published in issue 173 - August 2010

A groundbreaking new study demonstrates the beneficial effect of Dru Yoga in improving wellbeing and resilience to stress in the workplace. Research supervised by Bangor University found that a six week programme of Dru Yoga reduced anxiety and fatigue, while increasing emotional well-being and resilience to stress.

Dru Yoga and Walking holiday in Snowdonia
Dru Yoga and Walking holiday in Snowdonia

Improving well-being and resilience to stress are key issues facing many organisations.[1-2] In the UK alone, 97% of senior human resources professionals believe stress is the biggest threat to the future health of the workforce,[3] and estimates suggest 175 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to sickness absence, half of which are stress-related.[4] Figures from the HSE suggest that stress in the workplace costs the UK over £530 million per year.[4] Experts believe these figures will increase further as a result of the recession.

Researchers conducted a randomized controlled study,[5] (the first such research done on yoga in the workplace) involving 48 employees from Bangor University. They were either placed into a Dru Yoga programme, or wait listed, as the control group. The yoga group participated in a six week program of Dru Yoga, comprising of at least one weekly 60-minute class.

Dru Yoga[6] is one of the UK's leading forms of yoga, and was chosen for this study because it is a particularly safe, accessible and therapeutic form of yoga, which can be practised by most people. It's both a graceful and potent yoga style, based on flowing movements, directed breathing and visualization. With its foundations set firmly in ancient yogic tradition, Dru works on body, mind and spirit-improving strength and flexibility, creating core stability, building a heightened feeling of positivity, and deeply relaxing and rejuvenating your whole being. Dru Yoga classes are available in the UK, Ireland, The Netherlands and across Europe, Australia and Canada. Short Dru Yoga retreats and yoga holidays in these countries are also very popular. Dru Yoga has been used for over 20 years in yoga classes, schools, retreats, hospitals and workplaces to relieve stress. Dru Yoga teacher training courses are also available internationally.

Dru Yoga teacher training course in North Wales
Dru Yoga teacher training course in North Wales

In the programme used in this research, Dru Yoga senior tutor Padma McIntyre taught lunchtime classes of Dru Yoga to the participants in this study. Participants also received a Dru Yoga audio CD of the yoga programme, for use at home. In the yoga classes, Padma taught flowing Dru movements, which are accessible to people of all fitness levels and which have been found effective in reducing workplace stress. The programme consisted of the following:
  1. Activations - Every Dru Yoga class starts with a warm up to music, which brings a fun element to the class, increasing circulation through aerobic activity and warming up the muscles in preparation for the postures ahead;
  2. Energy Block Release (EBR) is unique to Dru, and consists of 14 specific movements which systematically stretch and releases tension from the whole body, and bring added energy and concentration. They are performed as a flowing sequence with the breath which helps to activate the relaxation response;
  3. The Dru flowing cat movement (marjariasana), which eases back pain;
  4. Sphinx - bhujangasana - to strengthen the back, reducing pain and helping correct poor sitting posture;
  5. Bridge - Setubandasana - was included in the programme as it is one of Dru Yoga's key postures for easing back and hip pain. It is done in a flowing motion with the breath, making it an excellent stress-reliever;
  6. Deep Relaxation - Savasana - which uses the breath and visualization to aid the relaxation process and remove tension from the body and mind;
This Dru Yoga programme was chosen for its accessibility for all employees (as the majority had never done yoga before), and for its effectiveness in reducing stress. The wait-list control group received no intervention during this study. All participants were self-assessed on mood and wellbeing before and after the six week study, using two measures; the Profile of Mood States Bipolar (POMS-Bi) ref 40 and the Inventory of Positive Psychological Attitudes (IPPA)(41).

Results showed that at the end of the programme, the Dru Yoga group felt significantly less anxious, unsure, confused, tired, and depressed than the control group who did not practise Dru Yoga. In addition, the yoga group had a greater sense of life purpose and satisfaction, and was more self-confident during stress.

Researchers concluded that even a short program of Dru Yoga is effective for enhancing emotional well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace, and recommended that employers should consider offering yoga classes to their employees.

This research is important, not just because it is the first ever randomised controlled study done on yoga in the workplace, but because stress is becoming a major problem for thousands of people in Europe. Stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits to doctors, and 85% of serious illnesses (UK HSE stress statistics). Employers are actively seeking proven methods to deal with stress, and yoga is a perfect solution. This study shows that even a short term programme of yoga can have beneficial effects, enhancing emotional well-being and resilience to stress. Ideally, companies could offer lunchtime yoga classes to their employees, but even a short period of yoga can have great benefits.

For example, workers in a manufacturing plant in North Wales benefited greatly from just four Dru Yoga classes. Jane Clapham and Julie Hotchkiss, senior Dru Yoga tutors from the Dru Yoga Centre in Snowdonia, North Wales taught small groups of heavy machine operators a programme of Dru Yoga to reduce stress at work. They learned techniques like the Dru Yoga stress relief breath - breath of arjuna. Why don't you try it now?

Dru Yoga stress relief breath - as taught on Dru Yoga courses worldwide
 Dru Yoga stress relief breath - as taught on Dru Yoga courses worldwide

Standing in tadasana, breathe in and bring your hands in front of your body, crossing the right hand in front of the left and allowing the arms to rise up overhead. As you reach the full extent of the overhead stretch, turn your palms to face outwards. Breathing out slowly and smoothly allow your arms to flow down towards your sides. Repeat this circling motion of the arms, alternating the hand which crosses in front on each cycle. The breathing is an important part of the process-breathe in as you raise your arms and breathe out as you lower. Synchronize the movement with the breath in such a way that it becomes a dance - flowing, sustained and graceful. Once you have established the pattern, complete at least 3 cycles on each side. You may want to close your eyes to help you maintain your inner awareness throughout this sequence.

After just a month of Dru Yoga movements like this, the employees reported less back pain and headaches, increased energy levels and better concentration. Yoga is getting increasingly accepted by the corporate sector as an effective stress management tool, and studies like this are important ammunition for yoga teachers who wish to take their expertise off the mat and into the offices of those who need it most.

If you'd like to reduce your stress levels, try these Dru Yoga tips for desk workers:
Stretch - every 20 minutes raise your arms about your head, stretch first the right and left hands upwards. Shrug your shoulders and take a few deep breaths;
Walk - get away from your workplace for even 10 minutes and breathe deeply as you walk around the block. Ideally, go somewhere where you can see green trees, grass or gardens, as green is very soothing for the mind. (
Have a nap - Studies have shown that people who take a siesta have less heart disease and related illnesses. Even a 10 minute nap can help your body relax and give you more energy. Ideally, use a deep relaxation guided CD like those available at
Laugh - a few moments of laughter releases endorphins and helps your blood vessels be more flexible, preventing heart attacks and strokes. Share a joke with colleagues over a cup of green tea, or watch some comedy.(;
Get more sleep - Many people suffering from stress suffer from insomnia. Using Dru Yoga techniques to help you drop off to sleep, like a deep relaxation before bed, try and get around 8 hours of shut-eye per night. Don't watch anything depressing or stressful (eg the news) before you go to bed, and avoid horror or thriller movies that get your pulse racing too much;
Try Dru Yoga - the flowing, therapeutic style which is accessible for everyone. There are Dru Yoga teachers in most areas in the UK and Dru yoga workshops and courses - visit to find the nearest one to you.

Other people who've tried Dru Yoga talk about their experiences:

"The benefits that Dru Yoga has brought me have dramatically reduced my stress levels and increased my awareness of the daily pressures that are faced by most of my colleagues. I am more conscious of not taking on this stress myself. As a result, people value my increased creativity, clarity and calm, and my client base has expanded."
JM senior management consultant, UK

"If you want to physically strengthen your body and emotionally enhance your mind, Dru Yoga will give you the tools to take into your daily life and help you cope with the stresses of modern living"
Wendy, Therapist, UK

"Dru Yoga has helped me improve my physical wellbeing by alleviating neck and back pain. It has helped improve posture, motivate me to exercise regularly and lose weight, tone my body and eat more healthily."
Margot, Dru Yoga undergraduate, Australia

"I hardly recognize myself as the person I was six years ago. The bouts of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem I used to suffer on a regular basis have gone, to be replaced by increasing self confidence and a joyfulness in life that I'd forgotten was possible."
Catherine, Teacher, UK


1. Shuttleworth A. Managing workplace stress: how training can help. Ind Commer Train. 36(2): 61-5. 2004
2. Sparks K, Faragher B, Cooper CL. Well-being and occupational health in the 21st century workplace. J Occup Organ Psychol. 74 (4): 489-509. 2001.
3. Fuller G. HR fears for employee health as stress grips nation. Personnel Today [Internet]. 12  September 2006 [cited 31 March 2010]. 
4. Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Work-related stress. London: HSE. 2008.
5. Hartfiel N, Havenhand J, Khalsa SB, Clarke G and Krayer A The effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. Scand J Work Environ Health 2010.

Further Information

If you'd like to try the Dru Yoga programme used in this study (Dru Yoga for stress relief), it's available as an audio CD. Tel: 01248 602900;


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About Jane Clapham

Jane Clapham is a senior Dru Yoga teacher, who teaches yoga and meditation in the workplace, as well as on retreats and holidays worldwide. She has practised Dru Yoga for 25 years to keep her stress free most of the time! Jane may be contacted via  If you'd like to know more about Dru Yoga retreats, teacher training or to download a free stress management pack, please visit

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