STAFF at a consultancy firm in Basingstoke are heading back to work after their lunch break feeling relaxed thanks to a new initiative which focuses on their mental wellbeing.

Employees at RSM are being offered the chance to do a yoga class in the office once a week, run by Vicky Watson of Infinite Harmony Yoga.

The classes include various exercises aimed at loosening tension, including in the hands and wrists, which can build up during the day.

Vicky also offers participants tips on how to stretch and relax throughout the day, with exercises they can do at their desks.

Sue Thorn, a manager at the Basing View office, who is also responsible for staff’s mental health, said: “We decided it’s a great thing for wellbeing and mental health in general. My normal approach is to go out and do a run at lunchtime but that’s not for everyone so we thought yoga brings relaxation into the office. We were surprised how many people decided to do it.”

Nearly 30 staff signed up, resulting in the classes being offered in two six-week courses, so everyone who wants to can take part.

Sue added: “It’s proved really popular. RSM has taken a pledge as a company called Time to Change which says as an employer, we will take mental health seriously.”

Vicky, who runs various yoga classes in Basingstoke, said: “It’s great because it gives people the opportunity to take a moment and stop and focus on what’s going on with their body. A lot of what we do is relaxing the body and focusing on good posture, strengthening the core and releasing tension.

“We carry around tension in our wrists and these exercises are aimed at releasing that. I’m trying to teach them positions they can do wherever they are. It’s not just about what you do on your yoga mat, it’s about how you hold yourself, how you sit and stand.”

Vicky hopes more businesses will recognise the benefits of offering yoga classes to staff, adding: “I think it’s really important for businesses to take responsibility for mental wellbeing. People spend so much time at work and employers have that responsibility to make sure that their workforce is looked after.” to the best of their ability and yoga can help with that.

“I would love to see more offices doing it, and giving people that opportunity to take a break. It’s so important to focus on what your body is saying right now. It’s very difficult for people to empty their heads but I talk a lot in the classes about what I want your body to do so it focuses on the breath and people are so focused on that, it stops you thinking about work.”