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Companies Plan Yoga Day Celebration

By Swapnil Joglekar
June 21, 2024 09:12 IST
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'An in-house contest encourages employees to share yoga and well-being practices with their families.'

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy SAP Labs/

Come June 21, Srinagar will witness Prime Minister Narendra D Modi lead the International Yoga Day event from the banks of Dal Lake.

Not to be left behind, companies such as HDFC Ergo, SAP, TransUnion, Bajaj Electricals, and Tata Motors have announced yoga challenges, rolled out 'desk yoga' modules, and activated employee wellness trackers.

They are hosting in-house yoga sessions in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the United Nations-recognised event when most plan to turn their offices into yoga hotspots.

That ties in with the year-long events and activities conducted at firms such as JP Morgan, Godrej & Boyce, and Bank of Baroda to sustain and improve the health of employees -- be it physical, mental, or, as in the case of Tata Power, even financial.

The electric utility and electricity generation company is holding weeklong virtual yoga sessions culminating in an onsite yoga event on June 21.

This is in addition to monthly yoga training and mental health-counselling sessions, complemented by seminars held by financial experts to reduce employees' 'financial stress'.

These actions come against the backdrop of an overall decline in employee wellness in the country, according to the Gallup Global Workplace Report 2024, released this month.

About 86 per cent of Indian employees said they were struggling or suffering at work, according to the US analytics and advisory firm.

More than a third of Indian respondents (35 per cent) -- higher than any other country in South Asia -- reported experiencing daily anger.

This has business ramifications too. A study by management consulting firm Aon and health and wellness solutions provider TELUS Health last year said more than half of Indian respondents said their mental health was preventing them from performing effectively at work.

The Asian Mental Health index included responses from 13,000 workers across 12 Asian countries including India.

While the reasons for the downbeat mood and tension at work may vary, doing yoga can reduce stress hormones and release endorphins, known as a feel-good chemical, according to Harvard Health, the consumer health division of Harvard Medical School.

And the companies are listening.

Consumer credit-reporting firm TransUnion launched a 21-day yoga challenge on June 1.

Over 4,500 associates in global capability centres of India, Costa Rica, and South Africa have been receiving easy-to-intermediate yoga poses in their inbox, along with information on the health benefits, and precautions to bear in mind when doing them.

The challenge will culminate in one employee being crowned Yoga Champion.

Besides, the firm holds weekly meditation practice, runs an intranet platform with videos and articles on wellness, and offers two Global Wellness Holidays, according to Jacob George, senior director and head of human resources, TransUnion global capability centres in India.

German software firm SAP organises 108 Surya Namaskar (sun salutations, a 12-pose, linked exercise) sessions open to its 15,000 India employees across eight offices.

The preparation for the International Yoga challenge begins a month in advance and "employees go through a mental and physical preparation similar to a runner preparing for a marathon," said Shweta Mohanty, vice-president, head, human resources, SAP, India.

Its Fit@SAP platform, accessible across devices and apps, allows workers to track progress, and stay motivated by connecting with others.

Employees at general insurance provider HDFC Ergo get a nudge from an artificial intelligence chatbot at 9.30 am every day for short yoga practice.

The firm is hosting live online yoga sessions every Friday in the runup to the main event on June 21.

The buzzword at consumer appliances firm Bajaj Electricals and leading automaker Tata Motors is 'desk yoga'.

"An in-house contest encourages employees to share yoga and well-being practices with their families," said Suman Kumar Ghosh, chief human resources officer, Bajaj Electricals.

The offices of consumer to industrial goods manufacturer Godrej and Boyce will host in-person yoga sessions on June 21.

It will follow in the footsteps of other year-round activities such as annual marathon, art workshops, and dance therapy sessions.

Public-sector lender Bank of Baroda will also host yoga sessions on June 21, taking forward the momentum of its six-month-long online yoga classes that concluded in March, said Shailendra Singh, chief general manager, HR and marketing.

Global lender JP Morgan Chase has onsite and online yoga programmes, onsite health and wellness centres, etc.

The corporate focus on health and wellness matches the personal.

Physical wellness has turned out to be a top focus area for Indians, according to an American Express study released this year, with 51 per cent respondents resolving to buy home exercise machines.

Mental health at the workplace also figures high on the list of priorities compared to previous years, according to the same report.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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Swapnil Joglekar
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