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Babas, yoga, spirituality take centre stage in corporate training

business Updated: Dec 26, 2015 15:56 IST
Sruthin Lal
Sruthin Lal
Hindustan Times
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s The Art of living

Yogi Ashwini’s ashram says its programmes help managers “improve their looks and glow, de-stress and decongest emotionally”.(Illustration by Abhimanyu Sinha)

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s The Art of living started conducting corporate training 14 years ago. It now has a busy calendar, with up to 200 programmes a year. Its clients range from Google to Larsen &Toubro, Mahindra & Mahindra to Accenture, Tata Motors and Barclays Bank.

It’s not the usual training for managers. Spread over two days, it is about managing yourself, not others.

“Companies have realised that people at all levels have to learn to manage themselves before they can manage others,” says a spokesperson for The Art of Living.

A research paper by Zubin Mulla, who teaches at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, says Sudarshana Kriya, a breathing technique prescribed by The Art of Living, reduced stress in 72 managers.

Little surprise, then, that the kind of training conducted by The Art of Living has proliferated, as have outfits conducting it. No one is ready to talk on record about the money involved, but the Delhi-based trainer of one such outfit says a programme for 25 managers can cost you more than Rs 3 lakh.

In fact, Bangalore has a Corporate Guru, otherwise known as Swami Sukhabhodhananda. His website, , talks of his “ability to apply spiritual truths to the management paradigm” through talks based on “world belief systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Christianity and others to address relevant questions of organisational challenges.” That’s why the epithet.

A spokesperson for Corporate Guru says he does not demand a fee, though accepts donations. The website lists Asian Paints, Godrej, ICICI Bank, Raymond and Hoechst among its clients.

Isha foundation of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev conducts programmes of 90 minutes to seven days that promise to impart leadership skills through yoga. “Upa Yoga (a basic version) is offered free. For the rest of the yoga programmes, depending on the logistical support from the company, such as space, there may be a donation. It is variable,” said a spokesperson for Isha.

The foundation shared testimonies of people that included Ravi Venkatesan, former chairman, Microsoft India, Prathap Reddy of Apollo Hospitals, and John Lee, who edited Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

The Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur in Himachal Pradesh offers corporate programmes through customised visits to the Ashram as residential retreats. Pidilite Industries, Calyx Pharma, Jasani Group, Orbit Lifesciences, and Diatrend are some of its clients.

Yogi Ashwini of Dhyan foundation has been training managers for 15 years. His ashram says its programmes help them “improve their looks and glow, de-stress and decongest emotionally”. It claims to have trained employees of Metlife, Wipro, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, HCL, Infosys, IBM, ITC Hotels, TCS, Videocon, and Tata Steel.

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