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Interdisciplinary team of experts to explore potential of Yoga

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New Delhi: Yoga, it is widely accepted, is a boon to the individual who seeks health, wellbeing and personal growth. Can this rewarding pursuit be deployed as a productivity-boosting tool at the workplace? Can its wider adoption have positive implications on the systematic growth and development of the economy, and hence the nation?

These questions and other related aspects of the Productivity dimension of Yoga will be explored by a high level interdisciplinary committee set up by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, whose inception meeting was held through video-conferencing yesterday (24th March 2021). The committee is chaired by Dr. H. R Nagendra, Chancellor, SVYASA and its members include representatives from AIIMS New Delhi, IIM Bangalore, IIT Bombay, various leading Yoga institutions, the corporate sector and the AYUSH Ministry.

In the inception meeting held yesterday, the committee recognised that there has been an unprecedented surge in the popularity of Yoga in the past five years, globally. The spiritual connectedness and health benefits of Yoga have been widely embraced by its practitioners. But the productivity dimension of Yoga — its role at the workplace in offering benefits to employees to perform better –  remains unexplored to a large extent. This dimension becomes especially important given the increasing physical and mental pressures faced by employees, exacerbated by the current pandemic, even as employersgrapple with the situation and try to improve workplace wellness.

Some of the members highlighted that Yoga for productivity is a critically important aspect in the present context when India’s growth aspirations are at perhaps its highest. One of the primary tasks of the committee, it was recognised, was to review evidence that linked Yoga to productivity and analyse the same. The various possible directions of the productivity dimension could then be identified systematically, and along these directions, protocols could be developed. The committee resolved that it would adopt an approach based on science and evidence in finalising its recommendations.

Existing evidence bases, including data collected on the impact of Yoga as a wellness intervention, and the subsequent impact at workplace given that the way forward for determining the effectiveness and universalisation of any intervention is through scientific evidence, would be collated. Various organizations, industries and corporate houses are already hiring yoga instructors to impart workplace yoga for their staff. They believe Yoga would help reduce workplace stress, improve interpersonal relationships, reduce conflicts, reduce sickness absenteeism and thereby improve productivity.

Increasing productivity may mean different things in different contexts, such as increasing profitability, lowering operational costs, optimising resources, seizing opportunity for growth, increasing competitiveness, reducing burnout and increasing employee wellbeing. Hence the work of the committee would involve multiple variables and consequent complexities.

Various institutions from the private and public sector are expected to associate with this study, including universities, hospitals from both modern medicine and Ayush systems, corporate houses and yoga institutions. The National Productivity Council, New Delhi is also supporting the study.

The committee will submit its preliminary recommendations by May 2021. (PR)

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