Yoga has become the fitness routine of choice
On World Yoga Day, we find that yoga seems to be becoming the talisman, whether it’s dealing with stress, curing back pain or pre- and post-natal workouts
Personal health and well-being are essential for organizational success—that’s the mantra that present-day HR leadership drills into executives across the board. Despite the fact that almost all forms of exercise regimens—CrossFit, kickboxing, Pilates, spinning, Les Mills Body pump and Body attack—are available to the India Inc. workforce, yoga is among the most popular fitness routines.
From the top boss to the intern, yoga finds takers across ranks. Arun Thukral, 55, Axis Securities managing director and CEO, has been practising yoga for five years while Rujan Panjwani, 55, executive director at Edelweiss Financial Services, has been at it for 10 years. Or take DXC Technologies bid manager Radhika Kaushik, 37, who first got hooked to yoga as a teenager when she attended a workshop conducted by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar at her school in Dehradun, in 1994. For all three, yoga is their fitness routine of choice, though they do supplement it with some other form of exercise too.
Thukral turned to yoga to introduce some balance into his hectic lifestyle and work commitments. “Yoga seemed like the perfect exercise for me to achieve my health and overall well-being goals. Over a period of time, I have come to realize that yoga is a vast philosophy which goes beyond the practice of asanas. The wisdom of this ancient philosophy can help us improve every facet of our life, be it physical, mental or spiritual,” says Thukral, who does hour-long sessions of yoga thrice a week.
Yoga, he says, has helped him beat stress and bring a fresh approach to work. “I find a great connect between yogic principles and investor psychology. Applying yogic concepts to explain investor psychology makes it easier to guide investors in prudent financial decision making,” he says. He practises classical yoga, which offers an eightfold path to discipline the mind.
Kaushik took a break from yoga in her late teens but the yoga camp with Iyengar had laid the foundations for healthy living. Now a mother of two, she says she reconnected with yoga as both a pre- and post-natal workout. “It has helped me slowly get back on track. With yoga, chances of injury are less, which makes it the perfect workout for me as I can’t afford to be out of action with two toddlers around,” says Kaushik, who does pranayam twice a week and practises Vinyasa Yoga, which has a cardio aspect to it. “This has helped me alleviate the post-delivery back pain. The breathing exercises have helped me relax, which is a rarity when you have to juggle work, home and two toddlers. Yoga has not only helped reduce stress remarkably, it has also helped to get some discipline and self-control in place,” adds the working mom, who tries to squeeze in a couple of cardio workouts every week.
In 2008, Edelweiss’ Panjwani suffered from a serious back problem, which forced him to seek care in a hospital. He had to undergo “very painful physiotherapy” for nine months. That shocked him into taking stock of his health. He had his doubts when a friend advised him to start doing yoga as a possible long-term solution to his degenerative condition. “But I had nothing to lose… so I started. Within weeks, I was hooked, and also noticed marked physical and psychological changes in myself,” he says.
Since then, Panjwani, who also runs one half marathon a year, has been practising both Iyengar Yoga and Power Yoga, both of which are fast-paced, for an hour-and-a-half at 5.30am twice-thrice a week. “Iyengar Yoga is an alignment-based style of yoga in which the poses are held longer. It is particularly effective for those with injuries and helps build strength, mobility and stability. Power Yoga combines the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga with high-intensity and calorie-burning exercise,” he explains.
Yoga has helped Panjwani lead a healthier and more active life. “Besides the physical benefits, yoga helps me concentrate better at work. I am far more mindful and deliberate in life, taking constructive and thoughtful decisions in a calm manner. From not being able to walk to participating in half marathons, I am an example of what yoga can achieve,” he says.
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