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Yoga: Healthy Workforce is equal to Increased Productivity
Regular practice of yoga not only improves health but helps in increasing concentration and focus, thereby increasing individual productivity

India’s much touted millennial population looks set to breach the 65 percent barrier by 2021, making the nation the youngest country globally, even as it lags China in terms of holistic population. The country is currently clocking a GDP in the vicinity of 7.5-8 percent and things look set to improve further with good monsoon forecast, the stable economy, corporates doing well, and the general feeling among the populace being that of forward thinking. India stands today where Japan stood 50 years back with a majority of the population in their most productive years.

According to a survey done by Deloitte in 2015, 80 percent of Indian millennials aspire to lead or reach a management position within their organisation. While close to 60 percent of the 1.2 billion population, as estimated during the 2011 census, may be below the magical age of 30, an age that is also dawning upon us is the age of sedentary, grey-cell driven prosperity. More than 50 percent of India’s respondents during the Deloitte survey felt that their current employer value was making full use of their skills, as compared to only 28 percent worldwide. In short, young Indians are hungry for challenges, and employers seem to be obliging them. While we bask in the glory of the Indian success story and how we stand on the threshold of greatness, let us pause for a moment and look at the pitfalls that may arise as we march on.

What is the issue? - one may ask. The government is stable, the economy, as frivolous as it is, is improving on the macro front, business is booming and more and more global organisations seem interested in India and its overflowing cup of talent. The land of opportunity, it would seem, has shifted from the Occident, to the Orient.

While we make merry at the joyous prospects ahead, let us also keep in mind certain drawbacks that a fast-developing country faces - heightened work pressure, the burden of keeping numbers growing, and that of ensuring that the people behind the numbers don’t fade out, all of which sound like symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases we have heard before.

Work-related stress has been pegged as Indian employers’ No. 1 worry. According to the Indian Heart Association, 50 percent of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 50 years of age and 25 percent of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 40 years of age. A report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently said 25 percent of Indians risk dying before the age of 70 due to lifestyle diseases. With recent high profile stress-related deaths bringing the focus on what it is that life means beyond the numbers, the challenges and the growth, Indians are now also looking for ways to de-stress, such as yoga, zumba and tai chi. Even as shareholders raise questions,

promoters rap knuckles and there are huge compensation packages and huge EMIs involved in a highly consumerist, highly competitive culture, the Indian workforce is increasingly looking at solutions that help de-stress the mind and body.

Not only is it pressure from one’s employers, but an increasingly aware workforce is also realising that neglecting health affects the individual productivity and general health in the long run. To be able to drive productivity, one has to encourage one’s employees to partake in activities that soothe the mind, in turn healing stress-related damage. It is towards this end that home-grown solutions such as yoga come to the fore.

Stress harms the human mind and body, resulting in higher medical bills, interrupted sleep patterns, impaired judgement and debilitated decision making. It knows no boundaries, following people home, taking on the role of family stress thereby compounding itself at work. Yoga, as medically proven, increases flexibility, increases muscle strength and tone, improves respiration, energy and vitality, helps maintain a balanced metabolism, helps reduce weight and among other things improves the health of the various vital organs. Almost a magic cure, yoga has been known to bring people out of depression, as well as get those severely mentally ill back from the brink. It rejuvenates the body, increasing blood flow, allowing the body to recover from a wide variety of lifestyle problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diminished attention span. It is for this reason that it is still viewed as one of the most reliable de-stress methodologies among corporates. Regular practice of yoga not only improves health but helps in increasing concentration and focus, thereby increasing individual productivity.

What top management across Indian organisations has realised is that yoga helps in improving employee performance. It creates a culture of wellness where a healthy workforce becomes a productive workforce. A growing body of research now suggests that yoga helps reduce stress that tends to assault bodies, which are confined to workplaces for hours. Companies are slowly investing in the assumption that limiting stress could translate into fewer employee absenteeism, lower healthcare costs and higher morale, thereby improving longevity of career with them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi propagated International Yoga Day being incorporated into the UN Calendar; such are the benefits of yoga and meditation. Meditation and yoga need to be incorporated into daily life where they help improve wellness not only for the employee, but for the organisation at large.

Benefits that have impacted various Indian organisations positively by dint of including yoga in their schedules include a calmer way of being and leading a more balanced and fulfilled life, connections to the inner workings of the mind, which help open up peaceful realms within, improved efficacy that goes hand-in-hand with improved mental and physical wellbeing, the ability to face newer challenges with courage and acceptance, thus making life a lot more growth-conducive and a strengthened connection with oneself that helps cultivate an inner knowing.

Were employees to practice even 15 minutes of yoga a day across Corporate India, the benefits that could be reaped would be immense. The short term benefits that would be noticed would be those for the employees, but over a period of time, these would begin to reflect on the corporate, in turn over a period of time, reflecting on Corporate India. France has limited the number of work hours per week to 35 and banned work emails after office hours. Japan encourages chewing on food slowly and vigorously, and the drinking of hot water, in order to boost the digestive system, thereby improving holistic wellness for its people. It’s about time that India woke up to the collective power of yoga, and recognise the fact that were a workforce of 0.8 billion people to practice yoga, the improved relative productivity would boost not only the nation’s wellness, but also the GDP, the economy and various other parameters, thereby pushing us from the moniker of ‘world’s youngest nation’ to ‘world’s most productive nation’.


By Ms Sagorika Kantharia   

Chief People Officer, Jagran Group




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