Yoga in Corporate Culture

Courtesy: Signature Magazine December 1994

Once upon a time the word yoga would bring to mind pictures of ill-clad rishis sitting atop mountain peaks, oblivious to the world around them. But no more! Today, more and more modern, well-dressed, career-oriented people have the opportunity to practise the ancient scientific discipline. Corporate bodies in Bombay are increasingly introducing yoga to their employees, finding it well worth their while for yoga induces more discipline and increased concentration, while reducing stress more than any management technique, to keep its practitioners in sound physical and mental health. Yet, initiators of the practice maintain it is not the potential of yoga to benefit firms that spurred them on!

According to S. R. Gulvady, the public relations executive of the Tandon Group of companies, yoga was introduced not as another management strategy, but as a welfare scheme for their employees. Then again, Suresh Bharwani, President of the Jetking School of Electronic Technology, explains that introducing his staff and students to yoga was simply his way of repaying his debt to society.

The type of yoga classes held in different organisations varies according to the resources available. At the Banque Nationale de Paris, a full hour (optional) is devoted to learning yoga after work, on the terrace of the bank's building premises. The 21 day programme held there takes a holistic look at yoga, with an itinerary ranging from simple physical exercises to a diet regimen and a rethink of mental attitudes. Initiator of the course, R. V. Balasubramani, Manager, Trade Finance, points out how the class provides a common platform where all employees, regardless of their position, can come together and learn a useful discipline.

On the other hand, yoga at the Tandon Group of companies, in the Seepz complex, is tailored to suit the particular requirements of the employees on the production floor. For ten minutes each day a compulsory session is held wherein the operators are made to practise yogic exercises that relieve eye strain, while strengthening their hand and neck muscles. Profitably enough, complaints of aches and pains are on the decrease ever since sessions started six months ago, and concentration on intricate jobs has increased noticeably. For the rest of the employees, ten-day courses have been conducted regularly since April 1993.

After all, it only takes a little innovation, even where there are space constraints. At the Jetking School of Electronic Technology, no classes are held, but every staffer is obligated to spend a week in the residential camp of the Yoga Institute of Santacruz East. “The effects,” reflects an employee, Prabhu, “then last for at least two months after the camp.” The students too are sent for two-day camps that help them face and deal effectively with stress.

Mr Shirkhande, a vice president of Ultra Tek Devices Ltd., an associate company of the Tandon Group, strongly advocates that yoga be made part and parcel of corporate culture. “Popularise yoga through the media,” he instructs, “and teach it to students at school. Make people want to do it, and it becomes easy to start, sustain and reap the benefits of such programmes.”