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ashokbhatia

On the occasion of the upcoming International Yoga Day, managers of all sizes and shapes are all of a twitter, shuddering at the prospect of being called upon to celebrate the day by performing some complicated asanas, that too at the crack of dawn, on a day which, unfortunately, happens to be a Sunday.

It is not that people who pride themselves to be managers are any less patriotic. Nor are they any less health conscious. Those who believe that managers are forever thinking only of evading taxes while leading a sedentary life full of fun and frolic at star rated joints could not be more wrong.

The reason managers need not earmark a particular day for practicing yoga is rather simple. This hapless overworked breed is already devoting much of its time and energy to following yogic pursuits. This alone helps them to retain their sanity while riding…

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ashokbhatia

Yet another New Year has dawned. It is time for me to exercise my tiny grey cells and fulfill my obligations to societyExercise 1 by making a resolution. Ideally speaking, I should make one which does not get consigned to the dustbins of my pious intentions before the first week of January gets over.

I happen to be a self-proclaimed couch potato. When it comes to being a lazy bum, I am a leader amongst men. The resolution which has appealed to me since the past several years goes something like this:

‘I hereby resolve, like in all the previous years, to start doing some kind of exercise.’

Had one of the Master Wordsmiths of our times, P G Wodehouse, been around, he might have permitted me to express myself in the following manner.

A couple of decades back, I was content to crawl out of bed and undergo the daily…

View original post 1,533 more words

Read Full Post »

On the occasion of the upcoming International Yoga Day, managers of all sizes and shapes are all of a twitter, shuddering at the prospect of being called upon to celebrate the day by performing some complicated asanas, that too at the crack of dawn, on a day which, unfortunately, happens to be a Sunday.

It is not that people who pride themselves to be managers are any less patriotic. Nor are they any less health conscious. Those who believe that managers are forever thinking only of evading taxes while leading a sedentary life full of fun and frolic at star rated joints could not be more wrong.

The reason managers need not earmark a particular day for practicing yoga is rather simple. This hapless overworked breed is already devoting much of its time and energy to following yogic pursuits. This alone helps them to retain their sanity while riding their high octane roller coaster careers. By following yogic principles, managers are continually enhancing their mental and physical well being, living a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

A communion and a harmony

Most of us are well aware that yoga is a state of communion. Spiritual enthusiasts tell us that it is the science of unison of our finite self with the cosmic Self. Bhagavad Gita describes it as the art of perfect unanimity with right thoughts and action.

To a conscientious manager, though, the communion is that between one’s individual value systems and those of the organization and the boss one works for. As long as harmony prevails, one is able to discharge one’s obligations while remaining in a state of bliss.

The yogins in an organization

Organizations have an eclectic mix of professionals with yogic propensities of different kinds.

There are the intellectual kinds who follow Jnana Yoga. Usually, they gravitate towards R&D, product design, market research and planning kind of careers but could be found in any stream of an organization. Those in the higher echelons of management often believe they practice this kind of yoga.

Karma Yoga is rigorously followed by those who implement and execute plans. Often, they are found performing unattached service to their organizations and bosses. The genuinely committed ones continue to perform, without waiting for promotions or increments.

The mystic path of devotion gets followed by quite a few. They practice Bhakti Yoga. They hang on to the coat tails or skirts of their bosses till the time the latter’s career advancements result into their own climb on the corporate ladder. Organizations keep devising imaginative severance packages so as to ensure that their bloodstreams do not remain clogged with deadwood which entertains a misplaced sense of devotion.

A manager’s yogic postures

Those who place a greater emphasis on the different kinds of yogic postures try to devour the vast repertoire of such experts as B K S Iyengar. They look up Larsen exercises (popularized by ‘Something Fresh’ of P G Wodehouse fame). They try to unravel the mystery behind Sivananda yoga. They try to differentiate between Bikram yoga and Anusara yoga.

After brooding over the various alternatives on offer, managers become better aware of the kind of posturing they have to indulge in so as to be able to survive and do well at their places of work. Whether employed in the public or the private sector, here are some of the popular yogic postures deployed by them.

Balasana

(A Child’s Posture)

Yoga BalasanaWhile sipping the morning dose of their favourite tissue restorative, when the better half is interrupting their devoted perusal of the morning newspaper and is handing over the list of domestic chores to be completed by the end of the day without fail.

(“Balasana” by Iveto – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons )

Kukkutasana

(A Cock’s Posture)

Yoga Kukkutasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhile rushing through peak hour traffic, managers inhale and inflate their chest cavity to full when handling errant bikers whizzing across their path; they exhale and deflate their lungs when accosted with buses and trucks pouncing upon their humble means of transport. At all times, while driving, they maintain a hawk like vigil.

(“Kukkutasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Ardha Chandrasana

(The Half Moon Posture)

Yoga Ardha-Chandrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen the task assigned is impossible to achieve and the boss needs to be convinced that a divine intervention alone could help.

(Ardha-Chandrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Ardha Matsyendrasana

(Half Lord of the Fish Posture)

Yoga Ardha-Matsyendrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen a situation calls for a look-in-the-eye confrontation, making the party of the other part wilt and run for cover.

(“Ardha-Matsyendrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Chakrasana

(The Wheel Posture)

Yoga Chakrasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen presented with a problem which has wheels within wheels – or multiple implications – the manager takes some time off to perform this asana. Soon, the mind is stilled and an out-of-the-box solution emerges.

(“Chakrasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Dhanurasana

(The Bow Posture)

Yoga Dhanurasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelManagers practice it when called upon to either announce or execute unpopular tasks, which could range from closing down business units to handing over a pink slip. The unpleasant arrow, conceptualized and designed by the top management, is shot. The manager graciously offers himself as a bow from which the arrow is finally shot.

(“Dhanurasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Ek Pada Koundinyasana

(Koundinya’s Single Foot Posture)

Yoga Parivritta_Eka_Pada_KoundinyasanaA task which was on the back burner for the past six months suddenly needs to be executed at a lightning speed. Going off on a vacation is not an option.

(“Parivritta Eka Pada Koundinyasana” by Jemasty – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Garudasana

(The Eagle Posture)

Yoga Garudasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelHandling either a supplier who, despite repeated warnings, fails to deliver on time or an employee who continues to under-perform.

(“Garudasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana

(The Single Foot King Pigeon Posture)

Yoga Eka-Pada-Raja-Kapotasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelMeeting either a politician or a government servant, with an attitude of abject surrender and servitude.

(“Eka-Pada-Raja-Kapotasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Hanumanasana

(Lord Hanuman’s Posture)

Yoga Hanumanasana_-_Hanuman's_Posture_-_in_Diagonal_ViewAttending to an urgent task dished out by the boss at the last minute.

(“Hanumanasana – Hanuman’s Posture – in Diagonal View” by lululemon athletica – Flickr: Yoga Journal Conference. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Janusirsasana

(The Head to Calf Forward Bend Posture) Yoga Janusirsasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelTackling the CFO and answering some ticklish audit related queries.

(“Janusirsasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Matsyasana

(The Fish Posture)

Yoga Matsyasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen reversing an earlier decision dished out to the team members, the manager needs to be as slippery as a fish only can be.

(“Matsyasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

 Vrikshasana

(The Tree Posture)

Yoga Vriksasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-MelWhen motivating team members to undertake a task which sounds impossible.

(“Vriksasana Yoga-Asana Nina-Mel” by Kennguru – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Adho-mukha-shvanasana

(The Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Yoga Ado-muka-shvanasanaWhen the boss decides to reprimand the manager, hopefully in private.

(“Ado-muka-shvanasana” by Joseph RENGER – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Bharadvajasana

(The Bharadvaj Posture)Yoga Bharadvajasana1When a junior approaches the manager seeking either leave or an undue favour.

(“Bharadvajasana1 (cropped)” by Iveto – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons )

Adho-mukha-vrikshasana

(The Downward Facing Tree Posture)Yoga AcroDanceHandstandWhen the manager herself needs to seek either leave or an undue favour from the boss.

(“AcroDanceHandstand” by Lambtron at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Padmasana

(The Lotus Posture)

Yoga Tanumânasî_en_Meditacion_Loto_PadmasanaAfter listening to the end of the day woes of the better half, this posture, if performed, leads to mental peace.

(“Tanumânasî en Meditacion Loto Padmasana” by Jesús Bonilla (Tanumânasî) – Retiros de yoga. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons )

With all these postures already a part of a manager’s daily life, is there a need for them to do some yoga on the appointed day as well?

Well, on this International Day of Yoga, I am toying with the idea of taking a dip in the Bay of Bengal nearby. To a busybee like me, it is a more exciting activity than Surya Namaskar – a set of twelve asanas for those with a lot of time on their hands.

Yet another option is to simply perform my favourite one only – the Shavasana.

Shavasana

(The Corpse Pose)

Yoga ShavasanaShavasana involves shutting down one unit of one’s body after another like a factory in the small place where I live, and then again turning them on one after another like the well heeled women at a ghazal concert.

Most managers would agree with me that this is the coolest thing that yoga offers.

(“Shavasana” by Joseph RENGER – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons )

Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/a-new-year-resolution-for-couch-potatoes

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Abstract
All of us strive for perfection. Achieving and maintaining a state of perfect health is a primary concern for many amongst us. There are various kinds of ‘pathies’ which are on offer to help us to do this. But the real help could also be sourced from within us. The faith we have. The willpower we exercise. The actions we take to help our bodies heal themselves. We could strive to be our own doctors.

On one of our luckier days when we happen to be in front of the idiot box, or when the latest internet-savvy gizmo is Health Monarch femalenestling in our palms, we are apt to run into a beautiful documentary which captures the birth of a Monarch butterfly. The radical transformation – from an egg to a caterpillar, then into a chrysalis, and finally into the Monarch butterfly – leaves us somewhat awe-struck and mesmerised. The universe appears to have programmed all living beings to strive to attain a state of perfection, balance and harmony.

When we speak of perfection, most of us refer to our external appearances, actions or conditions. Better inter-personal relations. Better status in society. Better harmony with our environment. Better compliance with laws, rules and regulations. Basically, we envisage a better, wealthier, happier and more humane kind of living.

The harsh slings and arrows of life make us aware of something we invariably take for granted – our physical selves. Those amongst us who have faced a medical crisis of some kind would often be found seeking perfection of the physical being through all the means available.

A rainbow of choices

We would be found tapping into the resources of the allopathic stream which offers diagnostic tools of high standards.Doctors Day We would be spell-bound at the capacity of this stream of medicine to look at the universe within us in a highly mechanical manner. We would be amazed at the extent of division of various organs which function within its complex confines. A cardiologist would declare that our heart continues to beat in a rhythmic manner befitting a piece of classical music. A neurologist would put us under a scanner and tell us that our brain is firing on all its twelve cylinders. A gastroenterologist would put our digestive system under the microscope and assure us that it is discharging its assigned functions in a prompt and regular manner.

Nevertheless, we would still be feeling tired and exhausted and, well, not up to the mark when it comes to physical fitness. As patients, we would then be told of the virtue of psycho-somatic diseases, with broad hints that we could be suffering from some such unidentifiable ailment. Oh, the feeling of smug satisfaction we derive when being told that we appear to suffer from some mysterious disease which the scientists of today are yet to properly catalogue and name, let alone devise a treatment protocol for!

To some of us, the relatively older system of homoeopathy may sound better. We would find that it is more intuitiveHealth Hahnemann in nature. The medications are milder, with lesser side-effects. These might temporarily increase the severity of our symptoms, thereby indicating that a real cure is on its way. After a detailed one-to-one with the physician, we would be back to our ‘popping-the-pill’ routine.

Same goes for the Ayurvedic or Unani streams of healing. The physician would check our pulse and arrive at the disharmony in our bodies. Dietary restrictions would need to be followed.

Our pursuit of perfection does not end here. A brief stint at a health centre run on the principles of yoga, meditation and naturopathy might revitalise our physical and mental systems and show us the way to get out of our ‘pop-the-pill’ syndrome. The focus of this approach is on detoxifying the body and also training us to give up the luxury of indulging our taste-buds. Overall, it brings us closer to Mother Nature, a factor which is sorely missed by those of us who live in highly congested urban settings.

Sure enough, we enjoy the more holistic way of treatment offered under the alternate streams of medicine. TheseHealth Dhanvantari treat us as a composite whole of the body-mind-vital and not merely as an assembly of several parts which continue to function in their individual isolated glory.

We try our hands at flower therapy, colour therapy, magneto-therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, and several others. When it comes to healing, we have a wide range of choices of systems to choose from. Many of us try to take an integral approach, using the best treatments from diverse streams of medicine. We do it based on the faith we have in the physician as well as in the medicine. This plays a crucial role in the healing process.

Building up our inner resilience

When we push ourselves to do something we essentially like doing, we do not get tired. The body and the mind do not revolt. Instead, they bask in the inner glow of satisfaction and happiness. Scientists would call it ‘eustress.’

However, most of the times, we experience distress. We face situations in life which do not allow us to exercise an option of either ‘fight’ or ‘flight.’ Stress built up over a long time tends to be disastrous. The good news is that if stress is directly proportional to external factors, it is also inversely proportional to our internal resilience. Some people tend to take an event very lightly. For others, the same event could be highly demoralising. It depends on how strong we are from within.

How do we build up inner resilience? How do we achieve a better level of harmony between our inner and outer selves and between our heads and our hearts?

The Divine within us can guide us in this respect. If we were to live in harmony with nature, it would help. If we could Technology MEDITATION-ENTREPRENEUR-SUCCEEDchange our dietary habits, we could enjoy better well-being. If we were to control our negative emotions and live only in pure and positive ones, our cells would get healthier. If we smile, it would take away a lot of stress from our poisoned systems. If we feel a deep sense of gratitude within us – say, for simply being alive – positive vibes would generate the soft glow of self-fulfilment inside us, helping us to recover earlier. We would radiate happiness all around us.

The mind exercises a great deal of control over our body. It is surely within our powers to train it to give a positive message to the diseased cells within us. This, compounded with faith in the remedy, could work miracles.

What happens if we fail in our attempts, one might well ask. Not to despair. One, no effort goes waste. Perhaps, we shall not suffer as much as we might have done had we continued in our state of blissful ignorance. Two, the purpose of our birth might just be to reduce human suffering. We might end up bringing succour to others who suffer from a similar ailment. Three, by offering ourselves as a guinea pig and a living human laboratory, we might make a modest contribution towards advancing the knowledge about a particular disease afflicting mankind.

Of Nature, nurture and niftiness

As patients, we aim to gain two kinds of freedoms – freedom from the ailment and freedom from the remedy. How doFeatured Image -- 1211 we become and remain independent of all kinds of doctors and healing systems? Can we become our own doctors?

What we are and what we shall become is only controlled by our actions. The science of epigenetics shows that genes are not only inherited and transferred to our progeny; these also get altered by our actions and the environment. It is not only about what Nature has provided us with. It is also about how we have been nurtured and how clever we are in the actions that we take.

We can will ourselves to heal faster. We can open up ourselves and tap into the infinite energy swirling about in the universe. We could draw a lot of inspiration this way. Our intuitive faculties also come into play and help us in gaining freedom from ailments as also from medications. The potential of our bodies and minds can be tapped better.

The change has to come from within us – from the core of our psychic being. The aspiration has to be genuine. It hasHealth Monarch_Male to permeate all our thought processes and even our actions. A constant remembrance of the divine power within us can be the panacea for all our ailments – a key to achieving perfect health.

In ‘Gitanjali’, Rabindranath Tagore proposes: “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection (1)”. Even though ‘perfection’ may not be attainable in reality, what matters is the ‘tireless striving’, which could well prove to be a reward in itself. ‘Perfection’, like happiness, need not be a station one arrives at, but a mode of travel, making the journey interesting and worthwhile.

Reference

1. Tagore Rabindranath. Tagore for You. 3rd ed. Kolkata: Deep Prakashan; 2011, p. 45.

(Published in NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health, Vol 22, Issue 4, dated the 15th of January, 2015)

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Yet another New Year has dawned. It is time for me to exercise my tiny grey cells and fulfill my obligations to societyExercise 1 by making a resolution. Ideally speaking, I should make one which does not get consigned to the dustbins of my pious intentions before the first week of January gets over.

I happen to be a self-proclaimed couch potato. When it comes to being a lazy bum, I am a leader amongst men. The resolution which has appealed to me since the past several years goes something like this:

‘I hereby resolve, like in all the previous years, to start doing some kind of exercise.’

Had one of the Master Wordsmiths of our times, P G Wodehouse, been around, he might have permitted me to express myself in the following manner.

A couple of decades back, I was content to crawl out of bed and undergo the daily ritual of performing the morning ablutions. I would then proceed to the breakfast table, all geared up to attack the deep-fried stuff on offer, accompanied by liberal helpings of milk, with dates, dry fruits and corn flakes thrown in for good measure. A glorious start to the proceedings of the day!

These days, life presents different challenges. A health-conscious spouse ensures that the breakfast table merely offers a slice of apple, a boiled egg sans yolk, and some oats, which, on my luckier days, come with a dash of soya milk. My digestive juices register a strong protest at the lack of attention being paid to them. My stomach grumbles, but to no avail. The day starts on a somber note.

The epidemic of strict dieting and supreme physical fitness pervades the collective conscience of the denizens of our country. If I am not a member of a gym, I am looked down upon. If I am not following exciting tips on achieving a life eternal on internet and social media, I am considered backward. Friends bandy about health-monitoring apps on their smart-phones, making me feel inadequate, unsuccessful and depressed.

I am continuously exhorted to follow a wide array of exercise regimen, ranging from complicated yogic postures to Larsen exercises popularized by Ashe Marson of ‘Something Fresh’ fame. Physicians of all kinds keep threatening me that if I fail to do so, I shall meet a fate worse than death. To help me achieve a healthier life, a mind-boggling variety of methods are on offer. Each of these is vying for my attention, promising salvation in the form of perfect physique and robust health.

Movies are full of the virtues of having six-pack abs. Heroes, oozing testosterone, routinely thrash villains by the dozen. After surviving all odds, they eventually end up in a tight embrace with a perfectly formed specimen of the delicately nurtured amongst us. Opening a magazine, I run into semi-nude demigods with stiff upper lips and finely chiseled bodies, eyeing me rather condescendingly. Their bulging muscles make me turn green with envy. Switching on a TV channel, I am apt to run into a Bollywood diva imparting lessons on all kinds of aerobic exercises. All this depresses me somewhat. Realization dawns that I have failed to live up to the exacting standards of physique in vogue these days.

The younger ones in the family keep prodding me in the ribs, exhorting me to join a gym of some kind or the other. AExercise 2 neighbor who fancies himself to be a friend keeps inviting me to join him in his daily morning 5-km walks. He is of the firm opinion that unless one bends, stretches and undergoes a rigorous regimen of gravity-defying yogic poses, one has no hope of being able to survive.

Exercising is not easy. There are insurmountable odds to be overcome. One, the weather often plays spoil sport. If it is too cold, I find it pretty demanding to get out of the warmth of my bedroom. If it is too hot, I shudder at the prospect of sweating profusely after having done the prescribed quota of jogging, push-ups or whatever. If it is raining, I have a perfect excuse to continue to laze around in bed, quietly sipping my morning dose of a tissue restorative. On some mornings, I am just not feeling energetic enough to start the day by troubling my body in any way. On others, the rush to work makes it feel like such a waste of time. Then there are several assignments to be completed even before one heads to office, making it well-nigh impossible to indulge in the luxury of an exercise of some sort or the other.

Then there is the handicap of living in cities. Cocooned in a concrete match-box, one’s endeavors to throw about one’s limbs end up upsetting a lot of stuff. This promptly starts a verbal World War III between me and my better half. If attempted in the small balcony, I am apt to be looked at with derision and amusement by all those enjoying their morning cup of tea in the balconies opposite. If some of them happen to belong to the tribe of the delicately nurtured, my fate is sealed.

Moreover, by their very nature, cities take a jaundiced view of any kind of physical exercise, unless undertaken with some practical object in view. I may run to catch a bus or a metro but no eyebrows would get raised. I may even chase a just-dislodged cap on a busy thoroughfare – without causing adverse comment. I may skip and jump so as to avoid either an auto rickshaw or a speeding car. But, if I run simply because I wish to strengthen my heart or jump because it improves my calf muscles, I merely invite sarcasm and ridicule.

The privacy of my own home is also illusory in nature. Before beginning an exercise routine, I have to ensure the maid is not around, lest my efforts are either greeted with some sly giggles or misconstrued as advances of an amorous kind. If the milk vendor comes in just when I am getting warmed up, an irritating break comes about.

Even if I am able to snatch some precious moments to take care of my body in the privacy of my own home, pretty soon it becomes highly monotonous. Anything done routinely becomes so very boring. If I were to invest in a stationary bicycle, the prospect of having to peddle it while watching a favorite movie on my TV/laptop is so very appalling. The bicycle would merely end up evolving into a frightfully expensive towel stand.

This philosophy – of body over mind – makes me pause and think if all this emphasis on physical improvement does not have an adverse effect on the soul.

If I were to become a very strong person physically, I would cease to be a peace-loving feather-weight crusader of sorts. Given my super size ego, I am sure to become a guy who could impart coaching on the subject of ‘How to Lose Friends and Win Enemies.’ I would give all my colleagues an inferiority complex. I would simply dominate all conversations I become a part of. To me, silence would cease to be golden. I shall go about with my chest expanded, a nuisance to all whom I encounter. All this would drive me further away from my own true self. Given my soft and delicate nature, my soul shall forever be in torment.

It would also affect my moral fiber. Rather than being modest, as at present, I would end up being proud of myself. When I run into a highly intelligent person not being able to touch his toes forty times without bending his knees, I would simply feel superior and look down upon him. The old reverence and the deferential attitude would simply evaporate. This would be morally corrupting.

After having brooded for some time over this predicament of Homo sapiens, I have realized that what humanityExercise 3 really needs is a system of spiritual exercises which shall develop the soul in a systematic manner. This way, the soul can keep pace with the muscles and the self-esteem.

By joining an organization which conducts group meditations, I have managed to be assured of at least two hours of sitting in a hard-backed chair in an upright posture every single day. During this time, spread over four sessions, I nudge my mind towards creative visualization. I imagine that I am doing all the yogic postures and pranayamas prescribed by the yogis of yore. In between, much like a commercial break on a TV channel, I allow my mind to hover over some pleasurable experience – a chat with the kids, an uproariously funny scene from a Bollywood flick, or a delicious meal enjoyed at a friend’s place recently. All this is done while sitting in my bedroom, or even while sipping my early morning restorative on the balcony.

An approach of this kind, when tried for a week recently, has worked wonders. It has helped me to overcome the deep feeling of guilt for not taking adequate care of my body. My moral fiber is intact. My soul is contented, having been given an opportunity to grow in tandem with my physical self.

To sum it up, my entire being feels happy and joyful. I am still my sober and delicate self. I continue with my humble frame of mind, admirably calculated to nullify the sinful pride generated by rigorous physical exercises.

My friends have already started asking me the secret of my youthfulness. I have no hesitation in spreading some cheer around by sharing with them the special exercise regimen I have developed for myself.

I do believe that I now have a New Year resolution which will not fade away into unsung glory, to be rediscovered only at the end of the year. Hope most of you have also been able to come up with ones which really get fulfilled.

Happy New Year!

(Dedicated to P G Wodehouse. Illustrations done by Tanya are gratefully acknowledged.)

[Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/a-potato-protests%5D

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The other day, I was surprised to run into a friend of mine. He seemed to have suddenly advanced in age. With drooping shoulders, he offered a rather limp handshake, a far cry from his ebullient self and the firm grip I had experienced all along. We sat down to enjoy a cup of tea. It did not take me long to figure out that his long working hours, devoid of any relaxation and exercise, had possibly led to a gradual decline in his well-being. If urgent steps were not taken, he would be soon courting trouble with his heart, a contingency which is best avoided.

Some Corporate Maxims

In the rush of living life in the fast lane, most managers today hardly find time for themselves. A high-octane careerSTRESS would often demand very long working hours at the work place. This is especially true in India, where the feudal mindset still prevails. As per some of the popular corporate maxims prevalent in this part of the world:

(1)                          A manager’s efficiency and effectiveness on the job is directly proportional to the number of hours put in at the work station,

(2)                          Promotions depend upon one’s commitment to company’s goals, where the level of commitment is in reverse proportion to the amount of leave taken,

(3)                          The company culture is designed to enforce a check-in time in the office, but the check-out time is invariably left open. After all, there is a strong belief in the old adage that those who watch the clock merely remain the hands!

(4)                          The manager has no life outside the place of work. More odd the hours at which mails emanate from him, especially those between the stroke of midnight and till about 4 AM, the more committed he/she is!

For those in the senior echelons, the communication revolution has made the task of “switching off” even more challenging. Laptops and cell phones are invariably present, even though they may be supposedly on leave with their near and dear ones. It is fashionable to answer a critical mail while on a vacation. We now have an entire generation of managers and executives who have developed an addiction to the latest gizmos. 24 by 7 connectivity is the buzz word. If you are not in the e-rat race, you just do not count!

The path of Least Resistance

The result is an early burn-out for most managers. With no time to spend with the family, let alone any quality time,WORK-LIFE BALANCE stress builds up pretty fast. Hobbies and extra-curricular activities get relegated to the background. If at all any health issue crops up, there is no time to see a doctor. Finally, when the visit to a medical specialist does fructify, a brief spell of pill popping provides instant relief and, voila, the problem is solved! A wise doctor would always work on a mix of drugs, diet, relaxation and exercise. But, as a patient, a manager is happy to find his own path of least resistance – focusing only on drugs but totally neglecting diet, relaxation and exercise.  

As to physical exercise, a “busy” manager could not care less. The physical bodies are taken for granted. If a gym is joined, the work-out keeps getting deferred on one pretext or the other. After all, the body is a sturdy one, so why pay any attention to it? On a daily basis, it is imagined that one is doing one’s duty by performing the morning ablutions, by providing the run down body with nourishment which could well be junk food, and by allowing oneself some sleep, howsoever disturbed it might be.

Recharging our batteries

It is rightly said that we are what we eat. If alone we were to focus on developing correct eating habits, with a large dose of fruits and vegetables, good results would ensue. When we eat junk food, do we realize that the same amount of money would allow us to buy fruits which we would not be able to consume in one go? When we continue to flush our digestive system with acidic foods, we cause irreparable damage to our delicate organs. Meals could also be irregular, depending upon the pressure of work at hand. The result is heartburn, upset stomach, ulcer, pancreatic malfunction and, in extreme cases, even cancer.

Why do we detest physical activity? In some cases, sheer lethargy, lack of time management skills and an over-ridingYoga Dhanurasana_Yoga-Asana_Nina-Mel addiction to desk work prompts us to lead sedentary lifestyles. Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases soon follow. Quite a few of us end up facing the surgeon’s scalpel, with dietary restrictions and exercising regimen which we are then forced to follow.

Undoubtedly, managers perform under tremendous pressure. But what is more important is as to how they take the pressure. For a thick-skinned manager, the going may be relatively easier; for a thin-skinned one, the same assignment could involve a high degree of stress. Possibly, the solution lies in transforming one from with-in, so as to change the way a manager perceives stress because of the circumstances with-out. Regular meditation, a healthy diet and a positive frame of mind could work wonders in the long run, keeping the manager always charged up!

Need for innovative HR policies

Far-sighted managements would surely take notice and fine tune their HR policies to ensure that a healthy work-life balance is maintained for all senior employees. In one of the evolved companies I happened to be associated with some time back, an annual master health check-up was made mandatory for all those above the age of 45. The top guy resolved not to disturb his team members on weekends, unless absolutely unavoidable. A planned annual leave of 15 continuous days was made compulsory – the experiment demonstrated that the company did not collapse during the 15 days’ period! Managers learnt to plan in advance and also delegate their tasks better. Every six months, an in-house yoga camp was held. Two years down the road, employee satisfaction levels had improved, and so had white-collar productivity!

To quote Stephen Covey from his much celebrated book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”: The physical dimension involves caring effectively for our physical body – eating the right kinds of foods, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis. (7th Habit, page 289).

The Divine has granted us this life and given us a body to live it through. The soul strives to evolve by gaining newer experiences in this life time of ours. But it can do so only through the medium of our physical body. Should we not respect it, take care of it and remain physically fit? Just like our vehicles and household gadgets need preventive maintenance, our bodies also need to be looked after well, so as to fulfill their purpose – that of supporting our soul, the Divine presence within us, to experience what this wonderful gift of life has on offer for us.

Surely, we can summon our will power and plan as well as execute a plan to achieve this worthy goal?

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/of-offices-and-vacations

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/achieving-work-life-harmony)

 

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