Yoga breaks could become part of office schedules if India Inc accepts a suggestion from the government.
The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) has said corporate houses should encourage the exercise regime to combat 'rising' levels of stress, depression and work-related health complaints.
Along with inviting companies to take part in International Yoga Day on June 21, the government has asked firms to make a regular 30 minute yoga break mandatory for their employees.
Shri Anil Kumar Ganeriwala, Joint Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH, said: 'We have invited all corporate houses to participate in Yoga Day this year because employees in the corporate sector face a lot of stress. It will be a good opportunity for them to release their stress with yoga.
'Also, we have written to corporate bodies like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, for releasing a circular in corporate offices associated with them to include a 30 minute mandatory yoga programme for their employees.
'AYUSH ministry is ready to provide all the necessary help to the corporate sector as and when required. We have realised that employees working in the private sector are very stressed, especially in metropolitan cities.
'They are always under pressure, be it because of their long working hours, sitting postures, or travelling time. They need to be rejuvenated and yoga can be the answer for them.'
In India, the software industry has become one of the fastest-growing sectors, employing lakhs of people. According to doctors, there is a high volume of medical complaints coming from these employees, including depression, eye and neck pain, and work-related stress due to tight deadlines.
Medical research in recent years has uncovered the many physical and mental benefits of yoga, corroborating the experiences of millions of practitioners.
As well as enhancing overall fitness and wellbeing, studies show it can be beneficial in reducing depression, fatigue, anxiety disorders and stress, as well as helping with the management of a host of diseases like diabetes and hypotension.
'As youth is the future of India, they need a life without stress. Many corporate houses have started optional yoga programmes. We suggest making it mandatory for the employers to start these programmes for at least half an hour,' said Ganeriwala.
He added: 'We have also advised the corporate sector to conduct brief workshops on yoga as this will create interest and awareness among employees'.