Image above – 3 LEON team members practicing yoga at the 2018 LEON Summer Wellbeing days
While one day won’t make us relaxed, it is a useful reminder how important staying relaxed is for us all. And it’s something we really believe in at LEON. Staying relaxed is also perhaps one of the biggest challenges to our ‘ever connected’ and ‘always on’ society.
At LEON we look for every opportunity we can to incorporate it into our daily life. We use many of different forms of relaxation – from Zumba, dance, singing, Chi-Gung, meditation and yoga to painting and growing plants. We created the LEON Kwoon, a well-being centre just off Oxford Street, as a space where all our team members could escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Image above – LEON Director of Wellbeing Julian Hitch demonstrating some Wing Tsun to LEON founder John Vincent.
However, our central medium to help us stay relaxed is the art of Wing Tsun Kung Fu. An ancient Chinese martial art dating back 1,500 years, created by women. Incorporating Zen and Taoist wisdom it has a unique positive focus, teaching you profound tools for physical, mental and spiritual development. It helps you become calmer, more focused and more in-tune with your body. We kick off our LEON’s Summer Festival with everyone doing Wing Tsun together as well as every Eat Well Live Well event, our quarterly introduction to LEON’s culture for new joiners. We often start our meeting with Wing Tsun breathing exercises to bring everyone together in the room.
Relaxation heightens your sensitivity and connection with the world. The more you do this, the more you move away from ‘thinking’ about the world to actually experiencing it. Staying relaxed allows you to be in the present moment, and less reactive to when we face challenges that we find difficult. In Wing Tsun we call this ‘respond don’t react’.
Image above – Team members await to be seated ahead of dinner at one of the 2018 LEON Summer Wellbeing days
Wing Tsun doesn’t just teach you staying relaxed in theory – it gives you practical tools to make this happen almost immediately. The simple breathing exercises in Siu Nim Tao allow you to clear the mind, take control of your body consciously and mindfully tune in to what’s actually going on for you right now. It gives you the ability to consciously calm down, slow your heart rate, to change between different parts of your physiology – from fight/flight/ freeze response (the parasympathetic nervous system) to rest and digest (sympathetic nervous system). The practicing of the Wing Tsun techniques, such as the punch, allows you to physically express negative emotions and feelings, and create a sense of movement and flow within your body.
Image above – From Zumba classes to creating healthy and green office spaces, relaxation techniques can be found across the company.
Finally, staying relaxed has a multitude of positive health effects. From improving your mental health and the way your gut functions to releasing stress, staying relaxed is the key to longevity. With a focus on creating a balance (homeostasis) in the body, staying relaxed teaches you how to master your mental and physical energy management. It’s not hard to see how relaxation drastically changes leadership, management and decision making.
Julian Hitch is the Director of Well-Being for LEON and a Wing Tsun Kung Fu Master. John Vincent (LEON CEO and Co-Founder) and Julian are currently writing a book about applying the principles of Wing Tsun to business called Winning not Fighting (published by Penguin in Spring 2019). To learn more about Wing Tsun or experience a class for yourself visit: www.SifuJulianHitch.com