Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Why Yoga has become an important part of our daily lives

Rajkumari Tankha | June 21, 2016 11:05 am Print
Over 53% of corporate are opting for yoga sessions at workplace to boost productivity, reduce sick days, increase mental clarity, combat fatigue, improve memory, fight stress and increase workplace satisfaction. Yoga industry is likely to grow further and will soon become a multi-bilion dollar market in t
International Yoga day

Between the first and second International Day of Yoga, there has been a 35% increase in demand for learning yoga in India (the first International Day of Yoga was observed on June 21, 2015). Over 53% of corporate are opting for yoga sessions at workplace to boost productivity, reduce sick days, increase mental clarity, combat fatigue, improve memory, fight stress and increase workplace satisfaction. Yoga industry is likely to grow further and will soon become a multi-bilion dollar market in the form of health clinics, ayurveda resorts, holiday camps and corporate training workshops. These are the findings of the Study Paper released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

“The number of employees from the corporate world who seek yoga classes have gone up by about 35-40% this year compared to 20% last year,” shares Dr B K Rao, chairman, ASSOCHAM Health Committee Council, adding that many B-schools are taking the lead from corporates to have compulsory yoga modules to minimise the stress of the candidates.

According to the findings, it is not just corporates that are holding yoga sessions in their offices for stress management but even MNC employees are opting for personalised yoga classes at home.
“Increasingly demanding work schedules and high stress levels are leading to depression or general anxiety disorders in the lives of people leading to wide-ranging effects like daytime fatigue, physical discomfort, psychological stress, performance deterioration and increased absenteeism. Almost 60-65% executives are suffering from stress-related diseases,” says DS Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM.

“Yoga helps people to think clearly, sharpens intelligence, improves learning ability, helps cope with problems and produces better job performance. And what better than having yoga at workplace. Having yoga at workplace offers a convenient way for employees to have a balanced life and to fit a workout in, without having to leave the premises,” says Dr H K Chopra, co-chairman, ASSOCHAM Health Committee Council,

The findings of the ASSOCHAM’s corporate employees’ survey are sad and shocking. Around 45.5% of the sample population is suffering from depression or general anxiety. Obesity is the second hard hit disease observed among the respondents, with 23% of the sample corporate employees suffering from obesity alone can modify occupational morbidity, mortality and injury risks that can further affect workplace absence, disability, productivity and healthcare costs. High blood pressure (B.P) and diabetes are the third and fourth largest disease with a share of 9% and 8% respectively as suffered among the corporate employees. Spondolysis (5.5%), heart disease (4%), cervical (3%), asthma (2.5%), slip disk (1%) and arthritis (1.5%) are the diseases that are mostly suffered by corporate employees.

What’s more, nearly 40.5% of corporate employees sleep less than six hours a day due to high stress levels that arise out of tough targets set for themselves by employers and cause diseases like depression, hypertension and diabetes. And these factors have led to an increase in demand for yoga instructors which is a big boost for the yoga industry. In India, a yoga instructor, can earn anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 60,000 a month, adds the paper.

“Yoga is not only the greatest stress buster, but it is also an effective therapy option. It prevents and cures diseases and promotes general good health as it imparts mental, spiritual, and physical well being,” says Dr Rao.

As per the findings, yoga sessions are introduced for an hour daily, from Monday to Friday, or for three days a week, depending on the employees’ requirements. The benefits of a workplace wellness program include improved attendance, reduction in escalating health care costs, an improvement in productivity, an increase in employee loyalty and reduction in attrition rate. Employees leading healthy lifestyles tend to take lower sick leaves with improved work performance and increased productivity that reduces overall costs of the organisation.

The report is based on the views of 1,500 corporate employees from 250 companies across 18 broad sectors like media, telecom and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO). The report included the major cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun. A little over 200 employee were selected from each city on an average.

Around 55% of the survey respondents’ fall under the age bracket of 20-29, followed by 30-39 years (26%), 40-49 years (16%), 50-59 years (2%) and 60-69 years (approximately 1%). The survey was able to target corporate employees from 18 broad sectors, with maximum share contributed by employees from IT/ITes sector (17%). Other sectors include KPOs, media, real estate, power, advertising and textiles.

The purpose of yoga, however, is different, it is self-realisation. Asana is a preparatory exercise to condition the body for yoga, it is not yoga. Dog yoga, power yoga, hot yoga and other modern innovations are rooted in the physical, none of them lead to self-realisation.

Ill effects of Yoga if not followed properly
But there is a word of caution. If not done correctly, Yoga could harm the body; particularly the rapid breathing technique should be done under the expert guidance. “By rapid breathing movement, prana in the body gets disturbed and based on the degree to which we have disturbed the prana, we contract a disease,” says Yogi Ashwani, Dhyan Foundation. “There are five major pranas in the body, which control vital functions in the body and have a specific location and direction, which gets disturbed owing to rapid breathing,” informs Dr Prasan Prabhakar, MD and Proprietor, Lakshmi Hospital, Kochi.

Dr Shalini Mishra, General Physician, Mumbai, admits having had more than 20 cases of casualties due to mass yoga programs in her medical career. “I had patients with severe knee injuries, neck injuries and spinal problems having performed certain asanas after watching television or in a yoga camp,” she says

Rajkumari Tankha
Rajkumari Tankha
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist. She has previously worked for Ministry of I & B (Govt of India), Hindustan Times and Special Audience Publications.