As the focus on employee wellness increases, yoga at work is becoming a popular initiative across India Inc. American IT firm BMC Software was among the early starters. Yoga sessions at their Bengaluru office began in 2013 as part of a deal with an insurance company which organized the classes. A couple of years later, the insurance firm stopped its yoga programme but BMC Software’s head of human resources, Latha Devi, who works out of the Bengaluru campus, had noticed enough positive impact on the team to continue with the twice-a-week yoga sessions on their premises. The hour-long sessions are conducted by trainers from Total Yoga, a yoga centre run by the husband-wife duo of Manish Pole and Neetu Singh. The sessions are held at the company’s in-house cafeteria.
“We introduced the free yoga sessions for our employees back in 2013. Yoga has helped BMC Software employees increase their productivity as well as decrease stress and anxiety in the workplace,” says Devi, explaining the reason behind running the Yoga at Work programme for five years till date without a break. “The programme has been pretty successful with up to 45-50 employees attending the yoga sessions at the peak of its popularity. Even I used to be a regular for the yoga sessions at our office. Whenever the attendance drops below 10, we send out an email reminder to the entire team and the attendance improves in the next class.” Due to her extensive travel schedule and meetings, Devi makes up for the missed office yoga sessions by making time for asanas over the weekend.
The few people who tried out the initial in-office sessions found them so useful that they became regulars. The participants bring their own yoga mats for the sessions. Principal senior quality assurance engineer Murugappan Veerappan started coming for the yoga sessions that start at 6pm out of “self interest because it helps improve balance, strength, mobility, and even the mood”. It is difficult for Veerappan to attend the yoga sessions regularly but, he adds, they have helped him feel energetic and keep cool in tough situations.
Web specialist Supraja Seshadri went for a yoga session because her co-workers were doing it and felt good, so she has continued with it. She has seen her favourite fitness routine’s benefits beyond the workplace. “Over time my stamina levels have increased and my hypothyroidism has gone down,” she says. “If not for yoga, I might not have reduced weight in the right way. I might have missed the good feeling and other health benefits that have come along with the regular yoga training.”