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Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review



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Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
Rudra B. Bhandari1, Churna B. Bhandari2, Balkrishna Acharya3,
Pranav Pandya4, Kartar Singh5, Vinod K. Katiyar6 and Ganesh D. Sharma7
1University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand,
2Department of Physics, Case Western University, Ohio,
3University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand,
4Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Uttarakhand,
5University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand,
6Department of Mathematics, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand,
7Department of Yogic Sciences, University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand,
1. Introduction
Yoga is an art of life management and a universal means for self realization. Health benefits
and improvement of human intelligence are inseparable byproducts of yoga practices that
can be achieved by every practitioner. Aurobindo (1999) defines yoga as “a practical
discipline incorporating a wide variety of practices whose goal is the development of a state
of mental and physical health, well-being, inner harmony and ultimately a union of the
human individual with the universal and transcendent existence”. Yoga is an ancient
discipline designed to bring balance and health to the physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual dimensions of the individual (Iyengar, 1976). In contemporary scenario, a part of
oriental wisdom, yoga has been widely known even in western countries and a substantial
number of people have been practicing it for different purposes such as physical fitness,
flexibility, stress management, psychological well being, emotional rectification, good habits
cultivation and disease management as adjunct therapy. Only USA invests 5.7 billion US
dollars annually for yoga classes and yoga products (Macy, 2008). A substantial number of
women have been found practicing yoga in UK and other countries. The emergence of many
more yoga studios in Europe and South Asia and research studies made pertaining diverse
efficacies of yoga portray its ascending popularity and scientific validation and
standardization by scientific community.
At present, there are number of scientific researches that substantiate preventive,
rehabilitative, therapeutic and excelling powers of yoga at individual and corporate levels
(Becker, 2000; Jacobs, 2001; Khalsa, 2004; Ornish, 2009). One of the most exciting
developments in the last few decades is the cross fertilization of western science with ideas
from Eastern wisdom system such as yoga. With increasing precision, scientists are able to
look at the body, mind and spirit and detect the sometime subtle changes than practitioners
of yoga and meditation undergo. A scientific interpretation of yogic effects has been made
on the basis of bio-psycho-socio-spiritual research model (Evans et al., 2009).
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
On the other hand, a flood of chronic diseases (cardiac problems, diabetes, cancer, lower
back pain, obesity, depression etc.) (World Economic Forum [WEF], 2010, p. 9),
organizational misbehaviors (work place incivility, insidious and insulting behaviors, social
undermining, theft of company assets, acts of destructiveness, vandalism and sabotage,
substance abuse and misconduct perpetrated against fellow employees) (Fox & Spector,
2005), interpersonal conflict/work-life conflict and dearth of spiritual leadership have been
met as the precursors for global recessions and workplace disharmony. Therefore, most of
the today’s successful companies of the world have prioritized workplace yoga/spirituality
as an emerging avenue for corporate- wellness (CW) and excellence (CE).
“The business of business and business of life are one. The reason for living and working is
to act and the reason to act is to seek excellence in everything that you do” (Sinclair, n.d, as
cited in Pruzen & Pruzan, 2001). This quotation from a CEO and chairman of a leading
company (Tan Range Exploration, Ltd., USA/Tanzania) portrays the relevance of spiritual
insight for business management and performance excellence. Persistent practice of yoga
and allied disciplines as a part of corporate culture improves somatic, psychic, social and
spiritual health and intelligence of an individual and organizational workforce.
Additionally, levels of four human intelligences- spiritual (SI), emotional (EI), creative (CI)
and rational (RI), acquired by an individual govern his/her way of feeling, thinking and
behavior and undoubtedly can be regarded as the determiners of human personality and
human excellence too. Optimal health (physical, mental, social and spiritual) and the four
elements of intelligence (SI, EI, CI and RI) that can be acquired and sustained by prolonged
yoga practices underpin individual or CW and CE.
Health problems- stress or distress, obesity, low backache, respiratory disorders,
cardiovascular problems, digestive disorders and genitourinary disorders are prevalent at
corporate world and cause a huge decline in the corporate health and wealth. On the other
hand, regular yoga practice is found more helpful for total health promotion, disease
prevention and rehabilitation as well. Particularly, yoga has been found effective to manage
work related stress, respiratory disorders (asthma, pulmonary tuberculosis, pleural effusion,
obstructive pulmonary diseases, chronic bronchitis), cardiovascular disorders (ischemic
heart disease, coronary artery disease, angina, chronic heart failure, hypertension), digestive
disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, hyperacidity, colitis, indigestion, diabetes,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, hepatitis, gall stones, celiac disease) and genitourinary
problems (urinary stress incontinence, women sexuality, climacteric syndrome, premature
ejaculation, pregnancy outcomes, labor pain and duration). Thus, this writing is contained
with sub-headings that describe the efficacy of CY to manage aforesaid health problems.
Being a secular, global, holistic and cost effective tool for boosting holistic health and
awakening four faculties of human intelligence, yoga needs to include as a part of corporate
culture along with scientific researches to substantiate its multidimensional efficacies. So the
prime theme of this chapter is to highlight contemporary significance of corporate yoga (CY)
to enrich health, happiness and harmony at workplace by promoting CW and CE. More
specifically, the chapter is intended to argue-
1. The concept and contemporary significance of CY
2. Link among yoga, health care and four human intelligences
3. Efficacy of yoga for CW and CE
4. Preventive and therapeutic value of yoga relating to work related stress, respiratory
disorders, cardiovascular disorders, digestive disorders and genitourinary disorders.
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
2. Contemporary significance of CY
Sages of yore have argued eternal significance of yoga for the welfare of entire mankind and
global harmony. Same has been reinstated by contemporary enlightened masters such as
Shriram Sharma Acharya, Swami Vivekananda, Maharishi Aurovindo, Swami Shivanand
and Swami Rama so forth on the basis of their experiential and experimental knowledge.
The father of scientific spirituality, Shriram Sharma Acharya defines yoga as “an art of
living”. This contemporized definition of yoga implies that yoga is nearer to life business or
management. Correspondingly, business of business and business of life are one and the
reason for living and working is to seek excellence in everything that we do (Sinclair, n.d, as
cited in Pruzen & Pruzan, 2001). Interestingly, this indicates art of self business (yoga) as a
foundation of sustainable corporate business and success. This substantiates the
contemporary significance of CY for CW and CE. The contemporary significance of CY for
corporate success can be concisely discussed in three sub heads- concept, popularity and
health impacts of yoga for the ease of readers’ comprehension.
2.1 Concept of Yoga
Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means union, to yoke or to unify; the merging of the microcosm
of our existence in our body with the macrocosm. In other words, this also implies the
fusion of embodied consciousness with cosmic consciousness (Chaoul & Cohen, 2010). The
famous yoga exponent, sage Patanjali defines the yoga as “the inhibition of psychic
modifications (Patanjali Yoga Sutra, 1:2)” that ultimately results in the fission of Prakriti (the
equilibrium condition of three strands- sat, raj and tam that is eternal but changeable) and
Purusha (pure consciousness that is immortal, eternal, omnipresent, omniscience and
omnipotent). The next famous ancient text of yoga, Shrimad Bhagvat Geeta (SBG) defines
the yoga as “a state of mental equanimity at each moment of the life” (SBG, 2:47).
Subsequently, SBG also defines yoga from the behavioral perspective as “the excellence in
action” (SBG, 2:48). In the West, yoga is often referred to as a mind-body technique from
Asia, usually categorized as meditation (for those seated practices) and yoga (practices that
include movement and the active participation of the body) (Chaoul & Cohen, 2010). Thus,
yoga is perceived as an overarching category that includes all Asian mind-body practices,
whether from India (Hatha yoga, etc.), Tibet (Tsa lung Trul khor [rTsa rlung ’Phrul ’khor]),
China (T’ai chi, qi gong) or other Asian origin. Nonetheless, in Indian context, yoga is more
than mind-body practices that also incorporates spiritual practices.
Basically, four major streams of yoga: Karma Yoga (The yogic path of undertaking selfless
deeds by using attained wisdom, power and prosperity), Bhakti Yoga (The yogic path of
devotion), Jnana Yoga (The yogic path that prioritizes rational thinking over knowledge),
and Raj Yoga (The eightfold yogic path synthesized by sage Patanjali 5000 years ago) can be
met in Indian classical texts. However, Raj Yoga as conceptualized by sage Patanjali is
supposed to have synthesized all yogic paths as a garland. It has metaphorically comprised
of eight subsequent limbs (a tree of eight limbs): Yama (universal ethics/social codes),
Niyama (individual ethics), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara
(control of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyan (meditation), and Samadhi (bliss).
Indeed, this path of Raj Yoga is an integral form of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Jnana Yoga
that can be adopted by any individual for total health and ascetic elevation (spiritual
advancement). Correspondingly, Satyanand (2000) argued that from the perspective of yoga
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
psychology (Raj Yoga), human personality can be categorized into four types: dynamic,
emotive, rational and volitional (p. 16).
Karma Yoga is preferred yogic path for an individual with active personality who can
traverse inner journey of psychic refinement through selfless deeds. An individual with
emotive personality may love Ishwarparnidhan (Bhakti Yoga) for psychic refinement and
subsequently inhibition of psychic modifications. The path of Jnana Yoga is an optimal yogic
way that prioritized by rational personalities. Eminent yoga scholar and seer, Patanjali put
forth Raj Yoga (the royal path of yoga) that is equally applicable to each aspirant desired for
perfect health, happiness, harmony, and ultimate bliss. Obviously, that is an integral and
concise yogic way for all possible personalities.
2.2 Popularity of Yoga
Popularity of yoga practice in the West is in ascending order since 1960 and particularly in UK,
where yoga classes are open to everyone although women tend to make up 70 to 90 per cent of
the student base of most classes as well as the majority of yoga teachers (Newcombe, 2007).
Moreover, perceived better physical health and emotional well-being by the yoga practice is an
important reason for women’s more participation in the classes. Additionally, yoga also served
as an important support for women becoming more aware of feelings of alienation from
traditional biomedical practitioners. “Only US invest $5.7 billion dollars per year in yoga
classes by involving 15.8 million people. Among US yoga practitioners, 72.2 percent are
women who practice yoga to be slim, flexible, de-stressed and attractive (Macy, 2008). In a
national population-based telephone survey (n = 2055), 3.8% of respondents reported using
yoga in the previous year and cited wellness (64%) and specific health conditions (48%) as the
motivation for doing yoga (Saper et al., 2004). In South Asian countries, everyone has craze for
yoga and yoga has greater space in corporate circles too. Turnover of yoga business in Asia is
more than 50 crore per year and a large number of corporate personnel are being trained in
yogic ways of stress management and mind management in Pure Yoga Studio of the Hong
Kong (Singh, 2009). Moreover, the rise of yoga masters like Swami Ramdev has promoted
mass media communication of yoga worldwide.
2.3 Yoga versus health
A famous yoga exponent of contemporary time, Aurobindo (1999) defines yoga as “a
practical discipline incorporating a wide variety of practices whose goal is the development
of a state of mental and physical health, well-being, inner harmony and ultimately a union
of the human individual with the universal and transcendent existence”. Iyengar (1976)
defines yoga as an ancient discipline designed to bring balance and health to the physical,
mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of the individual. These two definitions of the
yoga given by Aurobindo and Iyengar clearly hint its bio-psycho-socio-spiritual efficacy for
attainment and maintenance of total health (physical, mental, social and spiritual health) as
an elementary benefit and a byproduct if practiced persistently.
The Hatha Yoga is widely known in the present scenario, especially in the west, is supposed to
be an elementary practice for the practice of Raj Yoga which includes body cleansing
techniques (Shatkarmas), postural exercises (Asanas), gestures (Mudras), psychic locks (Bandhas),
breath control (Pranayama), concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyana).
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
Yoga practice consists of the five-principles including proper relaxation, proper exercise,
proper breathing, proper diet, positive thinking and meditation (Chanavirut, Khaidjapho,
Jaree & Pongnaratorn, 2006). Impacts of yoga practices can be better explained via bio-
psycho-socio-spiritual model- at physical level it improves musculoskeletal functioning,
cardiopulmonary status, autonomic nervous system (ANS) response and endocrine
functioning; at psychosocial level, it enhances self-esteem, social support and positive mood;
and at spiritual level it elevates compassionate understanding and mindfulness (Evans et al.,
2009). Same hypothesis is supported as “well-rounded yoga practice may have benefits on
structural, physiological, psycho-emotional and spiritual levels” (Herrick & Ainsworth, 2000).
Mechanisms underlying the modulating effects of yogic cognitive-behavioral practices
(e.g., meditation, Asanas, Pranayama, caloric restriction) on human physiology can be
classified into four transduction pathways: humoral factors, nervous system activity, cell
trafficking, and bio-electromagnetism that shed light how yogic practices might optimize
health, delay aging, and ameliorate chronic illness and stress from disability (illness and
stress from disability) (Kuntsevich, Bushell, &Theise, 2010). Moreover, they provided
standpoints for in-depth study of underlying mechanisms by postulating three possible
hypotheses regarding mechanisms of yogic effects. Correspondingly, yogic practices may:
1) promote restoration of physiologic setpoints to normal after derangements secondary
to disease or injury, 2) promote homeostatic negative feedback loops over non-
homeostatic positive feedback loops in molecular and cellular interactions, and 3) quench
abnormal ‘‘noise’’ in cellular and molecular signaling networks arising from
environmental or internal stress. The detailed elaboration of the proposed hypotheses is
beyond the scope of this writing unless it is quite intriguing and comprehensive that
includes all possible modes of varied yogic effects (effects of Asanas, Pranayams, varieties
of meditations and caloric restriction) till now.
It is claimed that these techniques bring an individual to a state of perfect health, stillness and
heightened awareness by increasing the body’s store of prana, or flow of vital energy (Kulkarni
& Bera, 2009; Nayak & Shankar, 2004).Other claimed benefits of regular yoga practice leads to
suppleness, muscular strength, feelings of well-being, reduction of sympathetic drive, pain
control and longevity (Brown & Gerbarg, 2009; Garfinkel & Schumacher, 2000; Lipton, 2008).
Yogic breathing exercises allegedly reduce muscular spasms and expand available lung
capacity (Brown & Gerbarg, 2005).Yoga is thus advocated as a symptomatic treatment for a
wide range of conditions, including anxiety, arthritis, back pain, cardiovascular problems,
gastrointestinal complaints, headaches, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, respiratory
problems and stress (Ernst & Soo, 2010). However, substantial evidences from clinical trials
also should be undertaken to generalize the therapeutic efficacy of yoga.
3. Yogic prescription for CW and CE
Yogic prescription (YP) is a sort of yogic capsule that is comprised of yogic practices from all
major yogic streams (Jnana, Bhakti, Karma and Raj) and designed as per workplace problems
met at individual and organizational level. YP presumes nine hurdles (physical or mental
illness, dullness, doubt, procastination, laziness, over indulgence, delusion, inability and
instability) behind inidvidual and corporate failure and basically targets their dissolution
(Pandya, 2006, p. 118) via its prolonged practice. The components of YP may vary as per
nature of participants and workplace. Nonetheless, YP considers four possbile types of
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
human personality (rational, emotive, dyanmic, and volitional) and incorporates yogic
practices from aforesaid four yogic streams accordingly. Dissolution of these hurdles via
sustained YP practice leads to complete harmony (homogenity among feeling, thinking and
action), harmony leads to talent, talent results in creativity and innovations, creativity
results in perfection that further results in excellence as depicted in Figure 1.
Fig. 1. Tentative model showing emergence of excellence via YP practice.
YPs have been found effective for health promotion and diseases management. Mind-
body interventions derived from yoga (including breathing, meditation, postures,
concentration and visualization) ameliorate stress-related mental and physical
disorders—asthma, high blood pressure, cardiac illness, elevated cholesterol, IBS, cancer,
insomnia, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia (Becker 2000; Jacobs 2001). Curative effect
of yoga has been seen in psychiatric problems, cardiovascular problems (CAD,
hypertension), respiratory disorders (Bronchial asthma, OPD, pneumonia etc.), diabetes,
neurological problems, musculoskeletal disorders, and others (Khalsa 2004). Ornish (2009)
asserted that lifestyle changes (yogic way of living) could be considered not only as
preventing chronic diseases but also reversing their progression—as an intensive non-
surgical, non-pharmacological intervention. Moreover, the coronary heart disease,
prostate and breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity account for 75% of health-care costs, yet
the progression of these diseases can be stopped or even reversed with intensive lifestyle
changes. Falus et al. (2010) highlighted the considerable connection between the length of
telomeres and intensive changes in lifestyle and nutrition as well as behavioral and
psychological factors. Epel et al. (2009) concluded that some forms of meditation might
have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal
and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that might promote telomere
maintenance. Between times one (before the Life Force Yoga program) and two (two
weeks after learning it), participants reported 64% decrease in total mood disturbance,
53% decrease in average depression scores and overall mood disturbance continued to
drop after two months (Bennett, Weintraub & Khalsa 2008).
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
Besides, the enhancement of SI, EI, CI and RI and their harmonious interplay by yogic
practices is also substantiated by various scientific researches which are deemed essential
for love and happiness at workplace: visionary leadership, sound management practices,
creativity and innovations, and optimal work performance. Interestingly, levels of SI and EI
are more about love and happiness at workplace. Moreover, happiness assists organization’s
members to be more productive, creative, fulfilled and with high morale that lead to
outstanding performance and therefore, have a direct impact on organization’s financial
success (Claude & Zamor, 2003).
But the level of these four intelligences varies from person to person as per their personality
types (dynamic, emotive, rational and mystic). Therefore, that holistic YP designed to
promote CW and CE needs to include selected practices from Ganan, Bhakti, Karma and Raj
yoga. Moreover, YP must include yogic practices of gross body, subtle body and causal
body. As per author’s self experience, pervious research findings and needs assessed in
corporate companies, different tentative YPs can be designed that need to be tested to
assess their effectiveness for promotion of four human intelligences and holistic health.
3.1 Yoga for CW
Yoga may be an integral part of worksite health promotion program (WHPP). “WHPP is
an organized program in the worksite that is intended to assist employees and their
family members (and/or retirees) in making voluntary behavior changes which reduce
their health and injury risks, improve their health consumer skills and enhance their
individual productivity and well-being whereas wellness is an intentional choice of a
lifestyle characterized by personal responsibility, moderation, and maximum personal
enhancement of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Wellness programs
typically begin by focusing on the reduction of health risks and then target issues that
affect personal productivity, general well being, quality of work-life, personal growth,
and other areas of interest” (Hunnicutt & Chapman, 2006, p. 4). On the other hand, CW is
a good physical, mental, social and spiritual health of an individual and organizational
Royal path of yoga includes subsequent steps: Yam, Niyam, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara,
Dharana, Dhyan and Samadhi. Yama (social codes) is the practice of improving social health
and harmony that incorpates five vows: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-
possessiveness and celibacy. Niyam (moral codes) is the practice for creating homogeneity
and harmony among feelings, thinking and action and comprised of five code of conducts-
purity, contentment, austerity, self-study and complete surrender to God.
Asana (posture) is the practice for improving physical health, physical flexibility and fitness;
overcoming conflicts, and maintaining steady posture for meditation. Yoga quietens the
body and mind through vascular and muscular relaxation (Monro, 1995). Maintaining of
posture was thought to lead strengthening and relaxation of voluntary muscles and
eventually to control over the autonomic nervous system (ANS) (Vahia et al. 2004). In the
same way, another study had reported that intensive practice of postural sequences as Surya
Namaskar for longer than 10 minutes was associated with sufficiently elevated metabolic and
heart response to improve cardio-respiratory fitness (Hagins et al., 2007). The continuous
extension and flexion of muscles during yoga poses is associated with activation of
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
antagonistic neuromuscular system as well as tendon-organ feedback resulting in increased
range of motion and relaxation (Riley, 2004).
Pranayama is the fourth step in the Ashtanga yoga system of Patanjali. The control of
the breath leads to the control of the life force or prana and mind. The ancient yogis have
propounded many breathing techniques to maximize the benefits of prana at somatic
and psychic level. The word "Pranayama" is made up of two words, Prana and Ayama.
Prana stands for the capacity to keep body alive by air, i.e breath and Ayama means
expansion, stretching or extension and control of breath. Thus, Pranayama means the art
of controlling breath. Pranayama is basically undertaken for somatic and psychic
purification, regulation of prana to each body organ and to optimize the cardio-pulmonary
and autonomic functions. The ancient yogis of yore searched the intimate connection
between breath and mind. Breath control has indirect influence over the mind thereby
showing mind-body interplay. Breathing is an automatic process controlled by
the autonomic nervous system. The science of bio-energy including the breathing
movements is the practical yoga par excellence. One of the main texts of Hatha Yoga, Hatha
Yoga Pradeepika(HP) advocates that unsteady flow of prana in body leads to unsteady
mind and vice-versa (HP, 2:2 ). The ancient yoga texts state that Pranayam practiced
properly can cure all diseases, but if practiced wrongly can onset diseases. Therefore,
Pranayama needs to be learned under the supervision of an experienced teacher by taking
needful precautions.
Breathing is the most important bodily function. Learning of breath control helps control
body metabolism. There are generally 10 types of Pranayama (techniques of breath control)
but five (Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Anulom-Vilom, Bharamari and Udgeeth Pranayama) of them are
found more in practice due to their prominent benefits. Pranayam (breathing mechanics for
control and expansion of prana) is the practice for attaining a sound mental health by
channeling pranic flow in subtle energy channels, expanding and controlling pranic energy.
Its regular practice regulates secretions of endocrine hormones and neuro-hormones. The
voluntary control of breath can modulate autonomic nervous system functions including
cardiac vagal tone as measured by heart rate variability (Lehrer 1999; Sovik 2000), vigilance
and attention (Fokkema 1999), chemoreceptor and baroreflex sensitivity (Bernardi 2001;
Spicuzza 2000), as well as the level of central nervous excitation (Brown & Gerbarg 2005).
Pranayam like Ujjayi breathing increases vagal tone, heart rate variability (HRV) (Telles and
Desiraju 1992) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) (Carney et al. 1995) by inducing
parasympathetic activity through numerous mechanisms, including slow breath rate,
contraction of the laryngeal musculature, inspiration against airway resistance and breath
holds (Cappo & Holmes 1984). Furthermore, they emphasized that slow breathing with
prolonged expiration was shown to reduce psychological and physiological arousal, anxiety,
panic disorder, depression, IBS, early Alzheimer’s disease and obesity (Friedman & Thayer
1998; Haug et al. 1994). Thus, Pranayam is the best practice of boosting morale, will power,
self-confidence and mind-body health.
Deep yoga breathing exercises like Bhastrika reduce the work load on the heart in two ways.
Firstly, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen is brought
into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn't have to work
hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a
little. Deep breathing improves the quality of the blood by promoting increased oxygenation
in the lungs and thereby aiding the elimination of toxins and morbid matters; increases the
digestion and assimilation of food by promoting enriched oxygen supply to stomach; and
improves the health of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, nerve centers
and nerves by promoting supply of oxygenated blood accompanied by nutrients. This
improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous system communicates to all parts
of the body. Moreover, it rejuvenates glands, especially the pituitary and pineal glands. The
brain has a special affinity for oxygen, requiring three times more oxygen than the rest of
the body. This has far-reaching effects on well being. The movements of the diaphragm
during the deep breathing exercise massage the abdominal organs - the stomach, small
intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the
heart. This stimulates the blood circulation in these organs. The lungs become healthy and
powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems. Deep and slow yoga breathing
reduces the work load for the heart. The result is more efficient and stronger heart that
operates better and lasts longer. It also means controlled blood pressure and less chances of
heart disease. Deep, slow breathing assists in weight control. If we are overweight, the extra
oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If we are underweight, the extra oxygen
feeds the starving tissues and glands. Slow, deep and rhythmic breathing causes a reflex
stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system which results in a reduction in the heart
rate and relaxation of the muscles. These two factors cause a reflex relaxation of the mind,
since the mind and body are very interdependent. In addition, oxygenation of the brain
tends to normalize brain function and reduce excessive anxiety levels. The breathing
exercises cause subsequent contractions of lung tissues thereby increasing elasticity of the
lungs and rib cage. This creates an increased breathing capacity all day, not just during the
actual exercise period.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (ANB) produces optimum functions to both sides of the brain-
optimum creativity and optimum logical verbal activity. Regulated and harmonious
rhythms of left and right nostrils calm the mind and the nervous system. Substantial studies
have proven that the nasal cycle is associated with brain function. The electrical activity of
the brain was found to be greater on the opposite side of decongested nostril. The right side
of the brain controls creative activity while the left side controls logical verbal activity. The
researches have shown that predominance of left nostril activates the right side of the brain
thereby bettering creative performance. Similarly, the predominance of the right nostril
activates the left side of the brain and betters verbal skills.
The concept of yoga therapy seems more advance and ancient compared to modern medical
science. Yoga therapy advocates that manifestation of every disease accompanies with
unrhythmic breathing and disturbed nasal cycles. Moreover, the onset of each disease can be
perceived just by checking nasal cycle. Alternate nostril breathing technique is met efficacious
to regulate alternate predominant flow of left and right nostril and hence activation of just two
opposite sides of the brain. This clears blockage of the nasal passage and reestablishes the
natural nasal cycle. For example, the yogis have known for a long time that prolonged
breathing through the left nostril only (over a period of years) causes asthma. They also knew
that this so-called incurable disease can be easily cured by teaching the patient to breathe
through the right nostril and then to prevent its recurrence by practicing the alternate nostril
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
breathing technique. The yogis also believed that diabetes is caused to a large extent by
breathing mainly through the right nostril.
Pratyhara (senses withdrawal) is the practice of conserving energy or prana by diverting
senses inward from their external objects to seal outward pranic flow. It is an introspective
practice of increasing bio-immunity, psycho-immunity and spiritual immunity at large. The
prevalent practice like Yoga Nidra comes under Pratyahara in which practitioner goes in
relaxed meditative state and gets dissociated from wish to act. Kjaer et al. (2002) made a
study to investigate whether endogenous dopamine release increased during loss of
executive control in meditation (Yoga Nidra) and found a 65% increase in endogenous
dopamine release, concomitant increase in theta activity, decreased desire for action and
heightened sensory imagery.
Dharana (concentration) is the practice of hitting target by being pin pointed. i.e., hundred
percent focused mental flow at a particular target. The practice like mindful awareness,
mindful based stress reduction technique, guided imagery and advance stage of Yoga Nidra
come under this. Siegel (2009) hypothesized that mindful awareness induced internal
attunement thereby catalyzing the fundamental process of integration. Moreover, he
asserted that integration—the linkage of differentiated elements of a system led to the
flexible, adaptive, and coherent flow of energy and information in the brain, the mind and
relationships. Dharana has shown remarkable effect on brain activity. The brain is an
electrochemical organ that uses electromagnetic energy to function. Electrical activity
emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves. There are four categories
of these brainwaves. They range from delta with high amplitude and low frequency to beta
with the low amplitude and high frequency. Men, women and children of all ages
experience the same characteristic brainwaves. They are consistent across cultures and
country boundaries. During meditation brain waves alter. Emission of Beta waves (13-30
cycles per second) is an indication of awaking awareness, extroversion, concentration,
logical thinking and active conversation. A debater would be in high beta. A person making
a speech, or a teacher, or a talk show host would all be in beta when they are engaged in
their work. Emission of Alpha (7-13 cycles per second) is associated with relaxation, non-
arousal, meditation and hypnosis. Emission of Theta (4-7 cycles per second) is associated
with the activities like dreaming, day-dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal
phenomena, Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) and shamanic journeys. Emission of Delta (1.5-4
or less cycles per second) is an indicator of deep and dreamless sleep. Mindfulness
meditation and related techniques are intended to train attention for the sake of provoking
insight. It can be thought as the opposite of attention deficit disorder. A wider, more flexible
attention span makes it easier to be aware of a situation, easier to be objective in emotionally
or morally difficult situations and easier to achieve a state of responsive, creative awareness
or ‘flow’.
Dhyan (meditation) is the prolonged concentration on a particular target that culminates
in self-realization and paranormal accomplishments. The subsequent practice of
meditation is supportive for awakening ESP and reaching self-realization. Neuroimaging
studies had shown that meditation resulted in activation of the prefrontal cortex, the
thalamus and inhibitory thalamic reticular nucleus and a resultant functional
deafferentation of the parietal lobe (Mohandas, 2008). He further asserted that
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
neurochemicals’ (GABA, endogenous dopamine, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine,
encephalin, acetylcholine etc.) changes as a result of meditative practice involved all the
major neurotransmitter systems that contributed to ameliorate anxiety, depressive
symptomatology and psycotogenic property. Meditation works because of the
relationship between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Simply, the amygdala is the
part of the brain that decides when to get angry or anxious (among other things) and the
pre-frontal cortex is the part that makes us stop and think about things (it is also known
as the inhibitory centre). Moreover, intuitive flashes and ESPs are very common when
mind gets tranquilized and calm in deep meditative stage. In such condition there
happens harmonious interplay among conscious, subconscious and unconscious minds
thereby causing intuition and ESPs.
Samadhi (trance or super-consciousness) is fusion of embodied consciousness with cosmic
consciousness; a steady feeling of holism and interconnectedness. As per yoga, Samadhi is
supposed as the stage of total health where an aspirant gets freed from the effects of three
strands—Sat, Raj and Tam and realizes one’s real self. On other word, it is Nirudha stage of
psyche that represents the total health.
3.2 Yoga for CE
Leadership is one of the most important components of CE and is more about putting first
things first to translate vision into action. Prolonged yoga practice is deemed responsive to
develop spiritual traits- self awareness, field independence, humility, tendency to ask
fundamentals- why; ability to reframe, positive use of adversity and sense of vocation
(Zohar, 2005) that are essential for effective leadership and translating holy organizational
vision into action. Correspondingly, this sub head will advocate yogic efficacy for
promoting organizational excellence thereby excelling leadership and four human
intelligences (SI, EI, CI and RI).
CE is the function of four intelligences—SI (farsightedness, serenity, discriminative
wisdom, personal meaning production, critical existential thinking, transcedental
awareness and concious state expension), EI (affectionate and loving relationship with
family and society; memorizing God’s compassion is unbounded, transfer of privilege,
career development, team building, empathy, sound leadership and civility), CI
(creativity and innovations) and RI (good managerial capabilities, job placements and
technical performances) born by an organization family. The optimal level of these
intelligences among organization family members can be induced by inculcating yogic
culture among them. On the basis of the ladder proposed by Raj yoga, an interesting
model for achieving CE can be set to overcome the nine hurdles. Removing aforesaid
hurdles by appropriate yogic practices induces inner harmony; inner harmony induces
talent, talent leads to creativity and innovations; creativity and innovation lead to
perfection; and perfection culminates in excellence. On the other hand, employee health
and performance are closely linked to each other. Good workers’ health leads to
productivity at the work; productivity at the work leads to business competitiveness;
business competitiveness leads to economic development and prosperity; economic
prosperity leads to social well being and wealth; social well being and wealth again help
maintain good employee health (Burton, 2010) as depicted in Figure 2.
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
Fig. 2. Relationship between Health and Wealth.
This hierarchical relationship between health and wealth also displays the high possibility of
achieving CW and CE via yoga practices. Therefore, total health and perfection need to be
developed first at individual level for CW and CE by adopting persistent yoga practices.
This may be plausiable by developing corporate yoga culture to provide equal chance of
practicing yoga for each and every organizational family member.
4. Preventive and therapeutic value of Yoga
Preventive and therapeutic value of yoga has been argued as a side benefit of yogic practices
especially associated with gross and subtle body and most of the yoga practitioners have
been found to have the same concern. Substantial scientific studies undertaken have also
attempted to substantiate the preventive and curative value of yoga practices like cleansing
techniques (Shatkriyas), postures (Asanas), breathing techniques (Pranayamas), gestures
(Mudras), psychic locks (Bandhas), concentration (Dharana) and meditation (Dhyan). As far as
preventive and curative value of CY for CW is concerned, it is deemed contextual to discuss
efficacy of CY in the connection of the most prevalent corporate health problems such as
work related stress, respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, digestive problems and
genitourinary problems.
4.1 Yoga versus stress
Globalization, technological advancements, intermixing of work cultures, recessions and
subsequent changes in the nature of work are in fast pace. Consequently, stress is found
with everyone at workplace whether rich or poor, young or old, male or female; no one is
immune from it. Stress may be the biggest single cause for illness or premature death. WHO
has declared stress as worldwide epidemic and reported job stress as “the twentieth-century
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
disease”. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) states that stress related illness costs
economy more than $ 100 billion per year. Additionally, AIS estimated in 2001 that stress
costs organizations $ 300 billion in healthcare, workers compensation, absenteeism, and
turnover. The productivity losses hover around $17 billion annually. Every health problem
from simple headache to heart attack, from psychosomatic disorders to stroke can be linked
to stress that is called the plague of the 21st century. Stress-related illness and injuries
account for almost three-fourths of employee absenteeism.
A growing body of research evidence supports the belief that certain yoga techniques may
improve physical and mental health through down-regulation of the hypothalamic–
pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) (Ross & Thomas,
2010). The HPA axis and SNS are triggered as a response to a physical or psychologic
demand (stressor), leading to a cascade of physiologic, behavioral, and psychologic effects,
primarily as a result of the release of cortisol and catecholamines (epinephrine and
norepinephrine). This response leads to the mobilization of energy needed to combat the
stressor through the classic ‘‘fight or flight’’syndrome. Over time, the constant state of
hypervigilence resulting from repeated firing of the HPA axis and SNS can lead to
dysregulation of the system and ultimately diseases such as obesity, diabetes, autoimmune
disorders, depression, substance abuse, and cardiovascular disease (Sterling, 2004; McEwen,
2000, as cited in Ross & Thomas, 2010). Conversely, substantial studies have shown yoga to
have an immediate downregulating effect on both the SNS/HPA axis response to stress.
Studies show that yoga decreases levels of salivary cortisol (Michalsen, 2005; West, 2004),
blood glucose (Gokal & Shillito, 2007; Khatri et al. 2007) as well as plasma rennin levels, and
24-hour urine norepinephrine and epinephrine levels (Selvamurthy et al., 1998). Yoga
significantly decreases heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Damodaran et
al., 2002; McCaffrey, Ruknui, Hatthakit & Kasetsomboon, 2005; Selvamurthy et al., 1998) (as
cited in Ross & Thomas, 2010) . Studies suggest that yoga reverses the negative impact of
stress on the immune system by increasing levels of immunoglobulin A (Stuck et al., 2003)
as well as natural killer cells (Rao et al., 2008) (as cited in Ross & Thomas, 2010). Yoga has
been found to decrease markers of inflammation such as high sensitivity C-reactive protein
as well as inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (Pullen et al., 2008) and lymphocyte-
1B (Schultz et al., 2007) (as cited in Ross & Thomas, 2010).
Aforementioned studies show that yoga has an immediate quieting effect on the SNS or
HPA axis response to stress unless the precise mechanism of action has not been
determined. The proposed hypotheses substantiate that yoga exercises cause a shift toward
parasympathetic nervous system dominance, possibly via direct vagal stimulation (Innes,
Bourguignon and Taylor, 2005); significant reductions in low-frequency heart rate
variability (HRV)—a sign of sympathetic nervous system activation—in depressed patients
following an 8-week yoga intervention (Shapiro et al., 2007); decrease in anxiety (Gupta et
al., 2006; Michalsen, 2005; Telles et al., 2006; West, 2004) and increase in emotional, social,
and spiritual well-being(Moadel et al., 2007) (as cited in Ross &Thomas, 2010).
4.2 Yoga versus respiratory problems
Yogic practices are always undertaken with synchronization of action, mental awareness
and breathing pattern. Particularly, Pranayam, Bandha, Mudra and Asana incorporate
systemic and subsequent inhalation, exhalation, inner breath retention and outer breath
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
retentions; contraction and relaxation of lung tissues and chest wall thereby affecting the
cardiopulmonary function (lung function, heart rate, breath rate, heart rate variability,
oxygen consumption, and CO2 expulsion), endocrine secretions and neural secretions and
function of associated visceral organs. Asanas (postures) are basically somatic techniques for
physical conditioning; Pranayam is a technique for breath control (inhalation, exhalation and
retention) and expansion of prana (life energy) that strengthens respiratory muscles and
better ventilation; a Mudra (gesture) is a sort of seal- a body movement to hold energy, or
concentrate awareness; and a Bandha is an energy lock, using muscular constriction to focus
awareness (Raub, 2002). Early studies (Joshi et al., 1992; Makwana et al., 1988) reported
improvement in some, but not all, measures of ventilation after breath control exercises
alone. For example, Joshi et al. (1992) followed lung function in 75 males and females with
an average age of 18.5 years during yoga breath-control exercises. After 6 weeks of practice,
they reported significant increases in forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume
in 1 second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), maximum voluntary ventilation
(MVV), as well as a significant decrease in breathing frequency (fB), and prolongation of
breath-holding time. Other studies reported similar improvement in lung function after
practicing yoga postures alone or combined with other yoga techniques. Konar et al. (2000)
reported that the practice of Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) twice daily for 2 weeks
significantly reduced resting HR and left ventricular end-diastolic volume in 8 healthy male
subjects. Birkel and Edgren (2000) reported that yoga postures, breath control, and
relaxation techniques taught to 287 college students (89 men and 198 women) in two 50-
minute class meetings for 15 weeks significantly improved FVC of the lungs measured by
spirometry. In a similar study, 1 hour of yoga practice each day for 12 weeks significantly
improved FVC, FEV1, and PEFR in 60 healthy young women having 17 to 28 years of
age(Yadav & Das, 2001).
Moreover, yogic interventions are also found beneficial for improving ailments like
asthma (Bhagwat, Soman, & Bhole, 1981; Bhole, 1967; Nagendra & Nagarathna, 1986;
Nagendra & Nagarathna, 1985; Jain & Talukdar, 1993; Sabina et al., 2005; Singh,
Wisniewski, Britton, & Tattersfield, 1990; Vedanthan et al., 1998), pulmonary tuberculosis
(Milani, Valli & Bhole, 1992; Prakasamma & Bhaduri, 2004; Visweswaraiah & Telles, 2004),
pleural effusion (Prakasamma & Bhaduri, 1984), rhinitis (Sim, 1981), sinusitis(Rabago et
al., 2002), chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (Behera, 1998; Donesky-Cuenco,
Nguyen, Paul & Carrieri-Kohlman, 2009; Kamath & Chauhan, 1982; Pomidori, Camigotto,
Amatya, Bernardi & Cogo, 2009; Tandon, 1978), chronic bronchitis (Behera, 1998) (as cited
in McCall, 2009).
Controlled clinical studies have shown that an integrated approach of yoga therapy
(consisted of yoga exercises and postures for 25 minutes; slow, deep breathing for 10
minutes; slow mental chanting for 15 minutes; and a devotional session as a daily practice)
to be beneficial in the clinical management of asthma. A 65-minute daily practice of yoga for
2 weeks improved PEFR, medication use, and asthma attack frequency in 53 patients when
compared to an age-, gender-, and clinically matched control group (Nagarathna &
Nagendra, 1985). In a long-term, follow-up (3 to 54 months) prospective study (Nagendra &
Nagarathna, 1986) made among 570 asthmatics showed overall significant improvement in
PEFR after a similar yoga training program. The greatest improvement was found in
patients who had practiced yoga most frequently and intensively thereby showing asthma
medication reduction among approximately 70% of the practitioners. The effects of two
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
Pranayamas on lung function, airway reactivity, respiratory symptoms, and medication use
were assessed in 18 patients with mild asthma in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-
controlled, crossover trial (Singh et al., 1990). The subjects were taught Pranayamas by using
a breathing device called the Pink City lung (PCL; Pulmotech, Jaipur, India) exerciser that
could be used with a matched placebo breathing device.
After a baseline measurement, the subjects were undergone through the practice of slow
deep breathing for 15 minutes, two times a day for consecutive 2-week periods, randomly
alternating the breathing devices for each practice period. Measured lung function variables
(FEV1, FVC, PEFR), symptom scores, and medication use improved with the PCL device
with small and statistically insignificant changes. However, there was a statistically
significant increase in the dose of histamine required to produce a 20% decrease in FEV1, a
provocative airway test commonly used to assess lung responsiveness to nonspecific
bronchoconstrictors. The findings indicate that Pranyama may lead to an overall clinical
improvement in mild asthma. In a subsequent letter to the editor, Stanescu (1990)
commented on possible autonomic mechanisms suggested by Singh et al. (1990) that might
lead to reduced airway responsiveness. Studies previously conducted by Stanescu et al.
(1981) on healthy subjects showed the efficacy of controlled yoga breathing techniques (i.e.,
slow, near VC maneuvers accompanied by apnea at end inspiration and end expiration) for
significant lowering of ventilatory responsiveness to increased carbon dioxide. Two early
studies (Behera & Jindal, 1990; Jain & Talukdar, 1993) reported on quality of life benefits
provided by the effects of various yoga exercises among asthmatics. Behera & Jindal (1990)
assessed the benefits of daily yoga exercises contained with breath control and postures,
over a 6- to 8-week period in 41 asthmatics. Although the authors reported an overall
subjective improvement in asthma symptoms, objective lung function measurements
showed improvement in some, no change and reduced in some. Jain and Talukdar (1993)
reported a similar overall effect of yoga therapy on exercise capacity in 46 asthmatics and
reported improvement in a 12-minute walking test, a modified Harvard step test, and a
more subjective index of exercise tolerance. However, it was unclear if the improvements
were due, in part, to a placebo response. In the more recent literature (after 1995), breath-
control and relaxation techniques in both children and adults with asthma have been
reported to improve some, but not all, measures of lung function (e.g., PEFR, MVV, FEV1,
and FVC), decrease usage of medication, and increase exercise tolerance (Blanc-Gras et al.,
1996; Khanam et al., 1996; Manocha et al., 2002; Sathyaprabha et al., 2001; Vedanthan et al.,
1998). Large variability in the subject population, questionable compliance in the yoga
treatment groups, and potentially adverse outcomes in some subjects further complicates
interpretation of the effects specific to a particular relaxation technique (Ritz, 2001). Further
studies are warranted, therefore, to better understand the mechanisms of response to yogic
intervention and to determine its clinical value for asthmatics.
Behera (1998) reported improvement in shortness of breath and some lung function
parameters in patients (n= 15) with the history of chronic bronchitis and age range 48 to 75
years (58.9 6±11.1 years) who received yoga therapy that consisted of breath control and 8
types of asanas for a period of 4 weeks. The patients had baseline assessment of their history
of chronic bronchitis, including spirometry, medication strategy, and exercise tolerance.
They were instructed yogic postures (e.g., Vajrasana, Simhasana, Sarvangasana, Chakrasana &
Matsyasana) and breathing techniques for 1 week and were encouraged to practice daily
with follow-up yoga sessions each subsequent week along with medication. Reevaluated
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
clinical status and pulmonary function revealed a significant improvement in FEV1 and
PEFR after second week and significant improvements in VC and PEFR after fourth week
excluding a patient’s reporting of perceptual decrease in shortness of breath. No changes
were noted in the amount of medication taken. This preliminary study (with poor research
design) was made among few patients for short duration. Unfortunately, no other studies
examining the possible benefits of yoga on chronic obstructive lung disease have been
published yet and hence generalization of the outcomes needs further studies to eliminate
its limitations.
4.3 Yoga versus cardiovascular problems
Cardiovascular disease continues to be a significant health issue, contributing to more
deaths than any other disease in developed countries while becoming the leading cause of
death in developing countries worldwide (Yach, Leeder, Bell, & Kistnasamy, 2005, as cited
in deJong, 2009). Although the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are well known, they
remain poorly controlled in the United States (Glover, Grerenlund, Ayala, & Croft, 2005)
leading to increased costs for treatment (American Heart Association, 2005, as cited in
deJong, 2009). Smoking, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, poor dietary patterns,
physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, elevated blood apolipoprotein levels, and
psychosocial factors are estimated nine risk factors that account for approximately 90% of
population-attributed risk for cardiovascular disease (Yusuf et al., 2004, as cited in deJong,
2009). Besides, emotional stress is one more major cause in the pathogenesis of cardiac
diseases like ischemic heart disease (IHD) (Eastwood &Trevelyan, 1971, as cited in Ornish et
al., 1983). Some emotions and behaviors are associated with IHD include intense anxiety,
depression, feelings of helplessness, and "type A behavior," characterized by ambitiousness,
competitiveness, impatience, and a sense of time urgency (Hackett & Rosenbaum , 1980, as
cited in Ornish et al, 1983). Significant lipid risk factors for CVD are increased levels of
serum cholesterol and triglycerides, increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,
decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and increased concentration of apoB-
carrying lipoproteins (Raub, 2002). In fact, Chiuve, McCullough, Sacks and Rimm (2006)
estimated that 62% of all coronary events could be avoided if all men adhered to a low-risk
lifestyle that included smoking abstinence, regular exercise, healthy diet, moderate alcohol
intake, and the maintenance of a healthy weight (as cited in deJong, 2009). Consistent
citation was also made by Ornish et al. (1983) that concluded that bio-behavioral techniques
such as yoga (meditation, pranayama, and progressive relaxation ) may reduce some of the
cardiovascular risk factors- BP (Bensen, 1977) and plasma cholesterol levels (Patel, 1976;
Cooper & Aygen, 1979). Yoga’s potential benefit to patients with CVD has been reported by
limited literature (Raub, 2002). Adoption of a yoga lifestyle can significantly reduce many of
the risk factors for CVD, including increased body weight, altered blood lipid profile, and
elevated blood pressure (BP) (Mahajan et al., 1999; Manchanda et al., 2000; Schmidt et al.,
1997, as cited in Raub, 2002). As cited in Field (2010), Yogendra et al. (2004) reported benefits
of one year long yoga life style among the patients of advanced coronary artery disease.
They found 23% reduction in cholesterol in the yoga group as compared to 4% in the
standard treatment control group. Besides, serum low density lipids also seen reduced more
in the yoga group (26% versus 3% in the control group). In a similar study on coronary
artery disease, a dietary change plus yoga group was compared to a group who only made
dietary changes (Manchanda et al., 2000, as cited in Field, 2010). After one year of weekly
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
sessions, the yoga group had fewer anginal episodes per week, improved exercise capacity,
decreased body weight and lower serum total cholesterol levels. Low-density lipoprotein,
cholesterol and triglyceride levels also decreased in the yoga group. Revascularization
procedures (coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery) were less frequently required in the
yoga group, and coronary angiography showed that more lesions regressed (20% versus
2%) and fewer lesions progressed (5% versus 37%) in the dietary change plus yoga group.
Pullen et al. (2009) also reported improved cardiovascular endurance and decreased
inflammatory markers (Interleukin-6 and C- reactive protein) in heart failure patients
thereby showing similar effects of yoga as massage therapy. Schmidt et al. (1997) reported
that a 3-month residential training program of yoga, meditation, and vegetarian nutrition
decreased body mass, total serum and LDL cholesterol, fibrinogen, and BP (as cited in Raub,
2002). Mahajan et al. (1999) reported a similar reduction in risk factors for patients with
coronary artery disease (CAD) and documented angina (chest pain) where subjects with risk
factors for CAD were randomly assigned to a yoga intervention group (n=5 52) or a control
group (n =5 41) (as cited in Raub, 2002). Both groups received lifestyle advice and the
intervention group received additional yoga training. Serial evaluations at 4, 10, and 14
weeks showed a regular decrease in all lipid parameters, except for HDL, only in the
patients with angina receiving yoga intervention. The most impressive of these studies was
a 1-year prospective, randomized controlled trial of 42 men with angiographically
documented CAD (Manchanda et al., 2000, as cited in Raub, 2002). A subgroup (n =5 21)
treated with an active program of risk factor and diet control along with yoga and moderate
aerobic exercise showed significant reduction in angina, improved exercise capacity, and
greater reductions in body weight, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride than
the control group (n = 5 21) treated conventionally with risk factor control and the American
Heart Association (AHA) Step I diet.
Revascularization procedures also were less frequent in the yoga group and coronary
angiography repeated at 1 year showed a significant regression of atherosclerotic lesions.
The Lifestyle Heart Trial (Ornish et al., 1998) demonstrated that intensive lifestyle changes
could lead to regression of CAD after only 1 year of a 5-year program. Forty-eight (48)
patients with moderate-to-severe CAD were randomized to an intensive lifestyle change
group or to a usual-care group. The lifestyle changes consisted of a 10% fat whole–food
vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training (yoga and meditation),
smoking cessation, and group psychologic support. Clinical status was followed by
quantitative coronary angiography and frequency of cardiac events. Of the 35 patients
completing the 5-year follow-up, 20 in the experimental group showed a 4.5% relative
improvement in cardiovascular status after 1 year and a 7.9% relative improvement after 5
years. The control group had a relative worsening of cardiovascular status after 1 and 5
years (5.4% and 27.7%, respectively), and more than twice as many cardiac events. Intensive
lifestyle changes/yogic life style, therefore, can cause a regression of CAD. Nonetheless, the
sparse of randomized controlled studies for assessing the efficacy of yogic intervention on
CVD, especially in comparison to the conventional practice of Western medicine, has made
it difficult to assess the direct benefits of an integrated yoga practice on patients with CAD.
Another most prevalent risk factor for cardiac problems is hypertension. Early studies on yoga
intervention for hypertension investigated the value of total body relaxation postures,
primarily Savasana (Chaudhary et al., 1988; Mogra and Singh, 1986, as cited in Raub, 2002). The
authors reported reductions in BP that were similar to control by drug therapy or biofeedback;
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
however, small numbers of subjects were utilized in the studies and there were no controls. I
hour daily yoga practice of three month decreased blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol
and triglycerides and improved subjective well-being and quality of life among mild to
moderate hypertensive participants (Damodaran et al., 2002, as cited in Field, 2010).
Yoga exercises twice a day for 11 weeks were found to be as effective as standard medical
treatment in controlling measured variables of hypertension (Murugesan et al., 2000). In a
randomized study, 33 hypertensive patients with 35 to 65 years of age, were assigned into
three groups receiving yoga therapy, physician-provided medication, and no treatment
(control group). Preanalysis/postanalysis regarding systolic and diastolic blood pressure,
pulse rate, and body weight revealed that both the treatment groups (i.e., yoga and drug)
were effective in controlling hypertension. Twenty male patients with essential
hypertension (EH) were treated for 3 weeks with postural tilt stimulus (tilt table) or with
postural yoga asanas to restore normal baroreflex sensitivity (Selvamurthy et al., 1998).
Progressive autonomic changes were assessed by cardiovascular responses to head-up tilt
and cold pressor stimulus, electroencephalographic indices, blood catecholamines, and
plasma rennin activity. There was a significant reduction in blood pressure after 3 weeks in
both treatment groups, indicating a gradual improvement in baroreflex sensitivity. A similar
improvement in baroreflex sensitivity, and significant reductions in systolic and diastolic
blood pressure, were seen in 81 patients (58-61 years of age) with stable chronic heart failure
(CHF) who practiced slow and deep breathing (Bernardi et al., 2002). The same authors
(Bernardi et al., 1998) previously reported that a slow rate of breathing in patients with CHF
increases resting oxygen saturation, improves ventilation/perfusion mismatching, and
improves exercise tolerance. These changes were obtained by simply modifying the
breathing pattern, from a resting, spontaneous ventilation of approximately 15 breaths per
minute to 6 breaths per minute, which seems to cause a relative increase in vagal activity
and a decrease in sympathetic activity. The effects on baroreflex sensitivity were similar to
those obtained with captopril treatment in patients with CHF (Osterziel et al., 1988).
Captopril belongs to a group of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)
inhibitors that help to lower blood pressure and make the heart beat stronger. This
medication is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart failure.
4.4 Yoga versus digestive problems
Hectic and unnatural corporate life style (fast food, materialistic relationship, hectic
schedule, distanced natural environment, odd duty hours, smoking, alcoholism, poor
intake of mental and emotional diet etc.) has been a sufficient condition to trigger and
progress digestive problems like hyper acidity, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis,
pancreatitis, flatulence, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease,
constipation, indigestion, hiccups, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hepatitis, gall
stones, celiac disease among corporate workforces. Additionally, because of being a major
system of nutrients absorption and morbid matter elimination, disordered digestive
system is sufficient to disturb homeostasis and to trigger varieties of somatic and
psychological problems. Sages of yore have rightly spoken that good digestion is a key to
radiant health and is the function of psychological well being. Yoga views the digestive
system as a very sensitive mirror of the mind and encourages examining overall lifestyle
choices, emotions and other mental components in the diagnosis and healing of the
digestive problems (Butera, 2010, p. 14).
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
Within a few seconds of "flight or fight" response happened in the central nervous system
due to distress, most of the blood in the body gets shunted out from the digestive system
and into the major muscle groups. This negatively impacts on the contractions of the
digestive muscles that help move food through the body as well as the fluids and secretions
that are needed for healthy digestion. Consequently, persistent mental distress results in
esophagus spasms, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach ulcers, celiacs
disease, irritable bowel syndrome as well as other more severe digestive ailments.
Yogic life style ( regular practice of a complete yogic approach including selected- cleansing
techniques, postures, gestures, psychic locks, concentration, meditation, natural diet as per
body constitution and season, exercising charter of righteousness, and observance of social
and moral codes) is found beneficial for the proper digestion and elimination, and healing of
various digestive disorders like hyper acidity, irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis,
pancreatitis, flatulence, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease,
constipation, indigestion, hiccups, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Hepatitis, Gall
stones, Celiac disease etc.
Practice of yogic postures causes sponge like squeezing in the soft tissues of the digestive
organs, and encourages stale and waste-bearing fluids to be out of the tissues thereby
facilitating the elimination of the morbid matters and subsequently supply of essential
nutrients to these areas. Subsequent opening and stretching of digestive organs during the
practice of yogic postures regulates the Peristalsis movement that is a key involuntary
process for the proper digestion and elimination. Besides, yogic breathing exercises send
oxygen deep into the cells of the body and help it to absorb nutrients and excrete morbid
matters thoroughly. On the other hand, efficacy of Yoga for stress management, rebalance of
the autonomic nervous system to create deep relaxation and dominate parasympathetic
system is well documented.
Langhorst et al. (2007) analyzed the effects of a comprehensive lifestyle modification
program ( a structured 60-hour training program over a period of 10 weeks which included
stress management training, psycho-educational elements, and self-care strategies) on
health-related quality-of-life, psychological distress, and clinical parameters in 60 patients
with ulcerative colitis (UC). The 60 patients were randomly assigned to an intervention
group or a usual-care control group. Comparison of the measurements taken at baseline,
after 3 and 12 months showed significant improvement in the quality of life and emotional
well-being of the participants as compared to controls.
4.5 Yoga versus genitourinary disorders
Most of the corporate workforces have been competing for material prosperity and focused
on sensual indulgences. The most fashionable one is over and multi-partner romantic
relationship. Prevalent dress codes, especially girls’, unnatural food at cafeteria,
pornographic literatures and audio-visual aids and western corporate culture are serving as
the best catalysts to provoke more lust and engage in frequent sexual activities. The
incestuous workplaces are in ascending order. Consequently, corporate workforces are
extremely prone to the genitourinary problems and seriously loosing their health and
wealth. Hence, it seems quite contextual to address significance of CY for managing the
genitourinary problems. As yoga argued, over sexual activities result in suppressed
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
immunity, low self-esteem, low morale and different health problems, especially
genitourinary problems such as urinary stress incontinence, poor sexual orgasm, HIV AIDS,
syphilis, infertility, miscarriage, premature ejaculation (PE), climacteric syndrome and
pregnancy problems.
The efficacy of mind-body intervention like yoga was supposed effective means for
bettering genitourinary health for long. Yoga has been found effective to promote
genitourinary health and heal the concerned problems like urinary stress incontinence
(Milani, Valli & Bhole, 1992), women sexuality (Brotto, Krychman & Jacobson, 2008; Dhikav
et al., 2007), climacteric syndrome (Chattha et al., 2008), PE (Dhikav et al., 2007), pregnancy
outcomes (birth weight, preterm labor, and IUGR either in isolation or associated with PIH)
(Narendran et al., 2005), labor pain and duration (Chuntharapat, Petpichetchian &
Hatthakit, 2008). Interestingly, Yoga appeared as a non-pharmacological measure for
improving female sexual functions (Dhikav et al., 2007). Dhikav et al. (2010) also reported
that after the completion of yoga sessions; the female sexual functions scores were
significantly improved (P< 0.0001). The improvement occurred in all six domains of female
sexual function index (FSFI) (i.e., desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain)
was more in older women (age > 45 years) compared with younger women (age < 45 years)
thereby proving yoga as an effective method of improving all domains of sexual functions in
women. Considering widespread acceptability of yoga, non-pharmacological nature, and
apparent beneficial effects in the present study, this modality deserves further study.
Chattha et al. (2008) studied the effect of 8 week-integrated yoga program consisted of
breathing practices, sun salutation and cyclic meditation on cognitive functions in
climacteric syndrome by sampling 120 premenopausal women between 40 and 55 years
with follicle-stimulating hormone level equal to 15miu/ml. Sample was randomly assigned
in two groups as participants and controls and participants were allowed to practice yoga
module one hour per day, 5 day per week for 8 weeks. In yoga group they reported
improvement on flushes and night sweats; and cognitive functions such as remote memory,
mental balance, attention and concentration, delayed and immediate recall, verbal retention
and recognition tests after 8 week. Dhikav et al. (2007) conducted another study to know if
yoga could be tried as a treatment option in PE and to compare it with fluoxetine. For the
same, they sampled 68 patients (38 yoga group; 30 fluoxetine group) attending the
outpatient department of psychiatry of a tertiary care hospital and employed both subjective
and objective assessment tools to evaluate the efficacy of the yoga and fluoxetine in PE and
found that all 38 patients (25–65.7% = good, 13–34.2% = fair) belonging to yoga and 25 out of
30 of thefluoxetine group (82.3%) had statistically significant improvement in PE thereby
showing yoga as a feasible, safe, effective and acceptable non-pharmacological option for
PE. Nonetheless, more studies involving larger patients could be carried out to establish its
utility in this condition. Vaze and Joshi (2010) also concluded that Yoga as a free-of-cost
noninvasive method that is fairly effective and is strongly recommended to all women of
menopausal age. Another study conducted by Brotto et al. (2008) reported that Eastern
techniques like acupuncture, yoga, mindfulness and other forms of spiritual practice might
offer a unique approach to enhance women’s sexuality. However, it needs the development
of sound theory and controlled studies; they might be the key for improving women’s lack
of sexual satisfaction. Narendran et al. (2005) conducted a study to assess the effect of yoga
on pregnancy outcomes and recruited 335 women with 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. Yoga
program including selected postures, breathing techniques and meditation was given to 169
Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review
women of yoga group one hour daily until delivery whereas 166 women of control group
were suggested to go for 30 minutes walk twice a day during the study. Intervened
integrated yoga approach during pregnancy was found safe thereby showing improvement
in birth weight, preterm labor, and IUGR either in isolation or associated with PIH, with no
increased complications in yoga group as compared to control group. Chuntharapat et al.’s
(2008) findings suggested that 30 min of yoga practice at least three times per week for 10
weeks is an effective complementary means for facilitating maternal comfort, decreasing
pain during labor and 2 hour post delivery, and shortening the length of labor that
highlighted yoga as an alternative nursing intervention to improve the quality of maternal
and child health care.
5. Summary
In 21st century the corporate world is associated with the most tension giving elements such
as competition, deadlines, market conditions and above all the desire to reach high on the
corporate ladder. These four elements are ultimately responsible to impair the harmonious
interplay of body, mind and spirit thereby leading to various health problems among
corporate workforces. On the other hand, yoga seems as an emerging avenue for the
worldwide corporate health and wealth. The packaging of CY for corporate life style is the
best preventive and therapeutic measure to optimize organizational health and culture as
well. Persistent practice of CY by a corporate executive makes him/her healthy and
wealthy. CY will prove to be an art and science of life for a corporate executive.
Yoga is an ultimate attempt for the fusion of embodied consciousness with supreme
consciousness that subsequently proceeds from the practice of social adjustment (Yam),
moral observance (Niyam), postures (Asana), breathing mechanics (Pranayama), senses
withdrawal (Prathyara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyan) and super-
consciousness (Samadhi). Regular practice of yoga is supposed to empower corporate health,
happiness and harmony and hence wealth too.
The relevance and popularity of yoga is ascending in the entire West and Europe.
Particularly, in UK and USA, yoga has become more popular where the women form 70-
90% of the student population. Nonetheless, it is difficult to say in numerical figures exactly
how many people are benefiting from yoga around the world. But one can easily notice that
a huge number of people especially the women have been practicing yoga daily. The
participation of a huge number of women itself signifies how important the yoga is for the
health and the happiness. This trend also recommends that yoga must be taken seriously
into the consideration as a part of workplace curriculum or culture to promote CW, CE and
corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The CY will consists of normal subtle yogic warming up exercises, postures, yogic breathing
exercises(pranayama), gestures, psychic locks, concentration, meditation, and spiritual
counseling. CY can be taught collectively and practiced individually in order to gain its
wholesome effects. Impacts of CY practices can be better explained via bio-psycho-socio-
spiritual model- at physical level it improves musculoskeletal functioning, cardiopulmonary
status, ANS response and endocrine functioning; at psychosocial level, it enhances self-
esteem, social support and positive mood; and at spiritual level it elevates compassionate
understanding and mindfulness.
Applied Biological Engineering – Principles and Practice
The progress of CY practice will positively produce prolonged physical, mental, emotional,
social and spiritual effects on executives. This will also help in producing effective
leadership in corporate world. Nurturing effective leaders is one of the most important
functions of the corporate excellence. This aspect also can be achieved by persistent practice
of CY. There is no other method better than yoga that can make a corporate executive
physically fit, mentally alert, emotionally rectified, socially adapted, rationally positive,
completely self analytic and spiritually elevated.
Particularly, work related stress, respiratory problems, cardiac problems, digestive
problems and genitourinary problems are seen improved by the specific and regular yoga
practice. Mechanisms underlying the modulating effects of yogic cognitive-behavioral
practices (eg, meditation, Asanas, Pranayama, caloric restriction) on human physiology can be
classified into four transduction pathways: humoral factors, nervous system activity, cell
trafficking, and bio-electromagnetism that shed light how yogic practices might optimize
health, delay aging, and ameliorate chronic illness and stress from disability (illness and
stress from disability). That implies that yoga is a cost effective and common avenue to
minimize medical expenditure and maximize corporate performance and productivity.
Promotion of total health, happiness, harmony and four human intelligences- rational
intelligence, creative intelligence, emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence are side
benefits of CY practice. Scientific validation and standardization of the effects of yoga
practices at individual and corporate level follows bio-psycho-socio-spiritual research model
and substantiate efficacy of CY for CW and CE. The general mechanism of yogic effects and
efficacy of yoga for managing work stress, and improving health problems related to stress,
respiratory, cardiopulmonary, digestive and genitourinary systems in organizational family
is portrayed on the basis of concerned research findings. Regular practice of yoga or CY
culture is directly linked to wellness and optimal intelligences of organizational family.
Good employees’ health leads to productivity at work, productivity at work leads to
business competitiveness, business competitiveness leads to economic prosperity and well-
being which is again associated with employees’ good health.
Cognitive intelligence that can be slightly enhanced and maintained through yoga practice
is helpful for sound managerial capabilities and technical skill empowerment. Creative
intelligence and concentration promoted by yoga practice is supportive for the generation of
creative and innovative ideas. Emotional intelligence that can be remarkably increased by
yoga practice is the key for galvanizing leadership, team building, optimal interpersonal
relationship and harmony. Spiritual intelligence that can be increased subsequently via yoga
practices is near to the corporate social responsibility, holism, empathy, farsightedness,
compassion and universal love. Thus, it can be concluded that CY is a cost-effective, eternal
and universal means for workplace wellness and excellence that needs to be included as an
indispensable part of corporate culture.
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Applied Biological Eng ineering - Principles and Practice
Edited by Dr. Ganesh R. Naik
ISBN 978-953-51-0412-4
Hard cover, 662 pages
Publisher InTech
Published on line 23, March, 2012
Published in print ed ition March, 2012
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Biological engineering is a field of engineering in which the emphasis is on life and life-sustaining systems.
Biological engineering is an emerging discipline that encompasses engineering theory and practice connected
to and derived from the science of biology. The most important trend in biological engineering is the dynamic
range of scales at which biotechnology is now able to integrate with biological processes. An explosion in
micro/nanoscale technology is allowing the manufacture of nanoparticles for drug delivery into cells,
miniaturized implantable microsensors for medical diagnostics, and micro-engineered robots for on-board
tissue repairs. This book aims to provide an updated overview of the recent developments in biological
engineering from diverse aspects and various applications in clinical and experimental research.
How to reference
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Rudra B. Bhandari, Churna B. Bhandari, Balkrishna Acharya, Pranav Pandya, Kartar Singh, Vinod K. Katiyar
and Ganesh D. Sharma (2012). Implications of Corporate Yoga: A Review, Applied Biological Engineering -
Principles and Practice, Dr. Ganesh R. Naik (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0412-4, InTech, Available from:
... nayama (breathing control techniques), in which inspiration is passive and expiration is active through abdominal muscles, in order to clear the respiratory passage and strengthen the diaphragm. Agnisar Kriya is a method of contracting or " flapping " abdominal muscles in and out in order to promote improved digestion and gastrointestinal motility. [7] The combined practices of Kapalbhati and Agnisar Kriya yoga have found to increased diaphragmatic tone and lead to reduced transient LES relaxation and increased LES tone. This synergistic effect can thereby decrease the reflux episodes experienced in GERD. ...
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Yoga methods including Pranayama are the best ways to prevent many diseases and their progression. Even though, Yoga is widely practiced, its effects on certain medical conditions have not been studied or reported. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is one of them. GERD is extremely common condition requiring frequent consumption of over-the-counter or prescribed proton pump inhibitors (PPI). In severe symptoms of GERD and in the presence of multiple etiologies, PPIs are insufficient to relieve the symptoms of gastric reflux. Regular and proper use of the Yoga along with PPI can control the severe symptoms of GERD and can avoid or delay the necessity of invasive procedures. This evidence-based case report focuses on the effects of Yoga on GERD. Our case report showed that regular practice of Kapalbhati and Agnisar kriya along with PPI, patients with hiatal hernia had improvement in severe symptoms of GERD, which were initially refractory to PPI alone.
Full-text available
INTRODUCTION This chapter compares two alternative models of physiological regulation. The first model, homeostasis (“stability through constancy”), has dominated physiology and medicine since Claude Bernard declared, “All the vital mechanisms … have only one object – to preserve constant the conditions of … the internal environment.” His dictum has been interpreted literally to mean that the purpose of physiological regulation is to clamp each internal parameter at a “setpoint” by sensing errors and correcting them with negative feedback (Fig. 1.1; Cannon, 1935). Based on this model, physicians reason that when a parameter deviates from its setpoint value, some internal mechanism must be broken. Consequently, they design therapies to restore the “inappropriate” value to “normal.” The homeostasis model has contributed immeasurably to the theory and practice of scientific medicine, so to criticize it might almost seem absurd. Yet all scientific models eventually encounter new facts that do not fit, and this is now the case for homeostasis. In physiology, evidence accumulates that parameters are not constant. Their variations, rather than signifying error, are apparently designed to reduce error. In medicine, major diseases now rise in prevalence, such as essential hyper-tension and type 2 diabetes, whose causes the homeostasis model cannot explain. For in contrast to the hypertension caused by a constricted renal artery and the diabetes caused by immune destruction of insulin-secreting cells, these newer disorders present no obviously defective mechanism. Treating them with drugs to fix low-level mechanisms that are not broken turns out not to work particularly well. The chapter expands on each of these points. The second model, allostasis (“stability through change”), takes virtually the opposite view. It suggests that the goal of regulation is not constancy, but rather fitness under natural selection. Fitness constrains regulation to be efficient, which implies preventing errors and minimizing costs. Both needs are best accomplished by using prior information to predict demand and then adjusting all parameters to meet it (Fig. 1.1).
A new global leadership paradigm is gradually emerging, spiritual-based leadership. The article context-ualizes this development within a framework of scientific and economic rationality. In contrast to these, a spiritual approach to leadership is presented as integrating a leader's inner perspective on the purpose of life and leadership such that this inner perspective is the foundation for decisions and actions in the outer world of business. Empirical research is presented, based on interviews with 31 top leaders from 15 countries in six continents. It demonstrates that leaders can obtain happiness, respect, peace of mind and success, while at the same time serving the needs of all those affected by their leadership when they lead from a spiritual basis. It also indicates that spirituality can serve as the foundation for leadership that considers ethics, social responsibility and concern for the environment not just as instruments to protect corporate reputation and income generation but as fundamental principles and values in their own right.
Yoga is widely practiced as a means to promote physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. While a number of studies have documented the efficacy of yoga for functioning in healthy individuals and those experiencing illness or pain, biopsychosocial effects have not been detailed. We propose an analogue between the physical, psychological and spiritual effects of practice as espoused in yoga traditions, and the biopsychosocial model of health. To this end, we present a review and conceptual model of the potential biopsychosocial benefits of yoga, which may provide clues regarding the possible mechanisms of action of yoga upon well-being. Physical systems activated through yoga practice include musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, autonomic nervous system and endocrine functioning. Psychological benefits include enhanced coping, self-efficacy and positive mood. Spiritual mechanisms that can be understood within a Western medical model include acceptance and mindful awareness. We present empirical evidence that supports the involvement of these domains. However, additional well-conducted research is required to further establish the efficacy of yoga for health states, and to understand how posture, breath and meditative activity affect the body, mind and spirit.