Today is the International Day of Yoga. Who would have anticipated that Narendra Modi’s call for adoption of this day (also the summer solstice) at the UN General Assembly in 2014 would have led to such an upsurge in the minds of people to appreciate the benefits of Yoga? From global leaders who supported the move at the UNGA, to the common man, everyone has geared up to adopt the practise of Yoga as a habit.
And what a wave it is.
Times Square will broadcast the United Nations celebrations of International Day of Yoga; 250 cities in 190 countries are participating; the celebrations at Rajpath seek to break into the Guinness Book of World Records for organising the largest Yoga class; and Doordarshan is to cover it like Republic Day! Even SpiceJet crew and instructors from the Isha foundation will perform yogic exercises and encourage onboard passengers to perform the same while cruising at 35000 ft!!!
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the International Day of Yoga!
It seems that even the Prime Minister wouldn’t have expected this when it was tabled as a resolution at the UN General Assembly last year. As rightly put by Narendra Modi, “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” To say it differently and holistically, Yoga is a physical, mental as well as a spiritual practice. And he rightly said so.
We have all heard the benefits of Yoga. It is a combination of mental, physical and spiritual discipline. And its benefits are not to be measured. Today, Yoga and modern wellness discourse states Yoga to be a stress-buster, and there is no separating stress and workplace. The “Staying@Work” survey by Towers Watson suggests that health and productivity is a high priority for employers. So the saying that ‘stress is the #1 lifestyle risk factor in India (among other countries)’ is relatively true when we look at the number of lifestyle disorders that arise, which in turn is also related to the workplace.
An organisation is as good as its employees; and ill health (be it physical or mental) of employees is reflected in an organisation’s performance. To represent mathematically – health of employee ∝ health of organisation. “Stress at workplace has a direct impact on the physical and psychological health of employees as well as overall organizational effectiveness which further results in decreased productivity, increase in absenteeism, accidents and employee turnover”, said Kiran Tandon, HR Lead, Employer Branding, Snapdeal.
In order to maintain the physical and mental wellness, Yoga has emerged as the recourse to stress management in organisations. “As an employer, it is critical to provide techniques to their people to cope and move ahead from stress; and yoga is the antidote to this problem”, Kiran adds. Snapdeal organises weekly Yoga events as part of their monthly wellness events which also include health check-ups, eye check-ups and dental check-ups. On the Yoga Day, Snapdeal is conducting Yoga workshops at all its office locations.
Yoga helps alleviating social and professional stress, and invokes energy in the body. It helps in restoring the work-life balance which resonates productively in an individual’s personal and professional life.
Cairn India, under its health and wellness programme “Cairn-fit”, provides transformational yoga sessions to employees, and has introduced, “Yoga at your workstation” to ensure employees understand the importance of breathing, posture and movement and practice it while at work.
“It’s a very refreshing and positive programme on both professional as well as personal front. I feel more energetic, more focussed at work and more balanced in my overall approach towards life”, says Sudeep Mishra, an employee in Cairn India.
Stress management, or specifically yoga, positively affects level of engagement and motivation of employees. Neha Sinha, Sr. Manager, Human Capital Management, OSSCube said, “Reduced productivity, absenteeism and attrition are few of the many fallouts of stress, and it is the responsibility of both employer and employees to create a healthy workplace.” Yoga and other stress management practices are a part of the “complete wellness” programme of OSSCube. OSSCube uses Power Yoga at desks to give employees a “healthy break” and have regular Rapid Yoga sessions aimed at bringing energy to the floor.
Reliance Capital is also observing Yoga week from June 19-26 for its 2000 employees across businesses in Mumbai as a part of its overall Employee Care program. “This initiative is aimed to encourage our employees to adopt a healthier and balanced approach in life”, said Pushkar Kataria, Chief People Officer, Reliance Capital.
Success and impact kept aside, what Yoga Day has done is atleast bring stress management to the company’s floor – somewhere mandatorily (in Air India and Indian Railways) and somewhere voluntarily.
The day has brought along a lot of engagement, excitement, curiosity and a fair bit of controversy! Yet, there is still so much left to be desired, atleast around stress management practices in workplaces. Like every argument in the universe, this debate also has two sides.
The good is – employers realise the need for stress management programs in workplaces. The bad is – only 26% employers in Asia have active programs around stress or resilience management, and 45% companies do not have any strategy as of now.
Stress is a lifestyle risk factor, and changes in the work lifestyle can strike it off of the drawing board. The dependence though is on a viable and sustainable health and productivity program. For today, both employers and employees can do Yoga and see the results for themselves!
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