Executive Yoga for Work Stress Management

Updated: May 23


Mental Stress

The work culture of today's corporates, workplaces, offices has reached a point where the words " executive" and "anxiety" have almost become synonyms of each other. The capitalistic goals of the private organisations of today are just not in tune with the natural functioning of the human organism. Management and commerce are the most sort after professions now, and the tensions, frustrations and mental disturbances are looked upon as necessary adjuncts to these areas of operation. The word executive, in fact, also means execution, are the modern work environments slowly, literally executing our executives?


As per one of the psychiatric centres in Mumbai a majority of their patients who are suffering from various degrees of anxiety and depression are the executives. out of the 37 executives examined in another industrial unit 14 were found to have abdominal issues, 7 had complaints of the upper respiratory track and 7 of the lower respiratory track, rest had cardiac and other complaints. The reason? the aggression necessary for staying afloat in the highly competitive work environments of executives with higher responsibilities breaks them down. Their health is affected, life span compromised upon, and above all they do not have enough time to stop, think and enjoy the life they are earning for that hard a way. Stress can actually kill you.


Work stress symptoms like restlessness, bloodless eyes and feeling insecure about life are clearly visible in the initial stages of the training needs assessment private sessions with the corporate employees. The seed of the problem is sown in the management schools itself, Where in they are made to get tuned to the competitive spirit, complex management theories as solutions to simple problems and the need for multitasking all the time. One of the executive kept on attributing the ringing sensation in his ears, and the distress he experienced while breathing to some high profile jargon based causes until his tailor pointed the reason to the tight collars of his shirt.


Where to begin Work Stress Management


Yoga for executives begin with training them on how to intermittently apply brakes to the chatter in the mind and experience tranquility during the work hours; that solutions to a majority of seemingly complex problems are very simple in nature.The mental processes need to be steadied occasionally for it to find them. So from where should one actually begin, or pick up the thread to tread along the path of work stress management.


Grab, steal some "me moments" from the hectic work schedules to begin with. Now ask oneself questions like how often does my mind feel tranquil and focused? if they try would they be able to achieve introversion of the mind? if they try will they able develop attitude of disinterest towards their work for some time? do they ever stop and think about their long term goals in life? note how many of these questions can one answer in affirmative. The hallmarks of the state of mind of an executive is confusion, disturbances, stress, tension.


What is actually needed for working with efficiency is tranquility, peace and focus. On the contrary the modern corporate work environments train the executive to remain extremely active, extroverted and confused. The emphasis on activities at work is too high that the executive develops a myopic perspective on what the priorities actually should be. The Shahzadpur farm yoga's executive corporate yoga program simply instructs one to just take some time and sit quietly in a secluded place, and try to empty the mind of any thoughts. This doesn't come easy, the mind is inherently programmed to resist any attempts at stopping its activity.


Sitting in any simple meditative posture like Lotus pose helps the mind gather the scattered physical, mental energy and focus it on one point. Close the eyes, and keep the spine erect, an erect spine has a direct correlation to the working of the mind. A simple act of sitting with the eyes closed can change the wave patterns of the brain. This is the simplest form of meditation which has its benefits beyond the physical health. In case one is able to achieve only this much one begins to get insights into one's ownself. All the windows of the sense organs open outside, their is not window which can take one within oneself. Thus cut off the senses from the mind and peep inwards. Knowing oneself is crucial to be able to function in an efficient manner.


Once the body has got used to staying still for a while the business executive can move to the next step; simple ways of moving the spinal cord in different directions. This may sound too simple for someone who has known yoga through the science defying contortions of the body, but in fact yoga is very simple common sense applied to the structures of the body.


Five ways of exercising the Spine for stress Relief


The structure of the spine naturally allows it to move in five ways: lengthen axially; bend forward, bend backward; twist on its axis, and bend sideways. Digestive system plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall health of the physical body; a healthy, relaxed mind stays only in a healthy body. The yoga asanas which bend the spine forward also compress the abdominal region; the abdominal compression massages the organs present within the abdominal cavity which flushes the toxins out and when this compression is relaxed fresh blood from the adjoining areas floods these organ systems adding years, health to their life span.


The business executive can choose very two basic yoga asanas like or Sitting forward bend Paschimottanasana, and standing forward bend or Uttanasana where the spine is bent forward, two asanas like half spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana), and Vakrasana for twisting the spine, Cobra pose (Bhujangasana), and Upward facing dog pose or Urdhvamukhasvan asana for bending the spine backwards, Talasana and Yastikasana for extending the spine lengthwise, and any two variations of Trikonasana in his morning yoga practice for maintaining the overall health of the spine.


Pranayamas as Yoga for Business Executives


Then there are some simple breathing exercises, pranayamas, which the business executive can employ for work stress management. Pranayamas basically deal with the prana or the bio-energy in the body. Pranayamas train one on regulating the prana at will, which brings a lot of involuntary processes happening within the body under the will of the practitioner as these involuntary processes are directly influenced by the activities of the prana within the body.


Breathing is directly related to the emotions, anger makes the breath fast and erratic in nature, because the breathing process affects the movement of the prana within the body. The executives must learn the behavioral techniques of how to control anger. The executives can also train their minds to remain calm by practicing pranayamas like anuloma-viloma ( alternate breathing), and Ujjayi breath ( breath of victory). Rather the yoga for stressed executives must begin by training the basic four breathing muscles to reach their optimal potentials with the four basic breathing exercises. By practicing these pranayamas one becomes aware of the involuntary activities of the prana, the mind starts to turn towards tranquility as this awareness begins to emerge.


Relaxation as Yoga for Stressed Executives


Yoga also provides techniques which puts the mind and the body complex into deep relaxation whenever required. One of them is to just sit quietly in any comfortable posture with eyes closed and passively listen to any sounds present in the environment, it is known as practicing Nishpandabhava. Sound becomes the post on which one can tie one's wavering mind on, try not to stick to any sounds, just follow the fading sound and remain passive to their intensity. This will take the mind off from all the worries and disturbances and provide peace and tranquility. Nishpanda bhava can be practiced anywhere and would just take around 10 - 15 minutes of the business executive.


Another one of the yoga practices is about reflecting on one's days events before going to bed each day. All these relaxation techniques can be done in the shortest possible time span, thus they fit best in the executive yoga plan for handling mental stress, work stress. One has to realise that paying attention to one's' mind is the key to many problems arising out of work stress. Normally, we look outwards for the solutions to our problems, yoga for work stress management teaches the executive that the problem actually lies within himself, the control he has, or does not have on his mental activities. Controlling the mental activities with executive yoga can change ones perspective on the problems staring into one's face. Yoga is not age specific, even the senior, older people can benefit a lot from yoga.


The way our corporates work is pulling the executive's minds away from tranquility and pushing them towards materialism. A healthy balance can be established between the two if one understands the basic concepts of yoga as a user manual of human life. This balance is key to leading a productive and healthy life for our business executives. The japanese have includes the tenets of Zen ( form of japanese yoga) into their national lives, the japanese discipline comes from Zen which means dhyana in yoga. As per Gita Yoga is karmashu kaushalam, or yoga is efficiency in work. This is true because efficiency in work can only come through complete dedication to one's work; this dedication involves concentration and disinterest in any other worldly affairs.


Concentration is Dhyana, and disinterestedness is vairagya in yoga which brings objectivity to one's work. The yogi is different from an executive in the sense that he is always aware of his failures on the path of yoga whereas the executive, owing to the mental conditioning, stays astray without being aware of it.


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Contact - Randeep Singh

Location - Mumbai

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