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DYNAMIC WELLBEING TRANSFORMATION: PANEL DISCUSSION (PART 2 SWAMI KAMALA AND HUGO RIBATIKA)

Here's Part 2 of the Panel Discussion WELL held last year on how to transform Employee Wellbeing programmes.

In this Part we explore practical steps that can be taken. There’ve been thousands of studies into the science of yoga including meditation, conducted over a number of years. All these studies reflect numerous benefits for the individual arising from these practices. We discuss how WELL can assist you to make them a part of your employees lives.

In addition, we look at how families can increase their overall wellbeing as this impacts on a persons 'zest for life' and hence their overall productivity levels. Wellbeing is not one isolated aspect of a person's life, its about everything in a person's life. This is why WELL recommends and tailor makes Wellbeing Programmes specifically for each individual that takes all aspects of their life into consideration. Contact me at bcarreira@welladvisers.com for a FREE initial consultation where we perform a FREE WELLBEING SURVEY upfront to diagnose what your organisations greatest needs are.

BELINDA: SWAMI KAMALA INTRODUCTION

It’s with great pleasure, I introduce to you Swami Kamala. Swami Kamala is the Founder and Director of the South African School of Yoga. Many people refer to her school as the top yoga school in South Africa. Swami Kamala has been a practicing yogi and teacher for over 44 years. Having trained in India for a number of years under a guru of the Satyananda Yoga tradition and travelling extensively to countries such as Peru and Tibet, she went on to build her school, in Hyde Park, 16 years ago.

Swami Kamala has been teaching her students a holistic system of how to develop their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing through yoga. Her teachings provide her students with tools to handle and manage their lives with greater ease, awareness and serenity. She works with each student to achieve their full human potential.

Swami Kamala has also assisted in teaching the Abused African children at ‘Childline’ in Soweto. Through a ‘Yoga Capsule Programme’, she trained 14 children as yoga teachers. The yoga teachers then taught hundreds of African children at the ‘Old Children’s General Hospital’ on Constitution Hill here in Johannesburg. Through these teachings, the children learnt how to recognize and use their own inner abilities and potentials.

Swami Kamala’s knowledge, wisdom, insight, love and practical lessons are unique and immense.

Welcome Swami Kamala! It’s both an honour and privilege to have you here with us this evening.

BELINDA: SWAMI KAMALA QUESTION 1

The first question I’d like to ask you is please could you share with us on how yoga can transform a person’s life?

SWAMI KAMALA: RESPONSE QUESTION 1

  • Today stress is considered as being one of the prime causes of disease. A great deal of research has been done on this subject by scientists throughout the world and they have concluded that tension, depression, anxiety and disturbed mental conditions can cause serious physical ailments. In order to understand ourselves we need a science that also understands us and a system that is reputable and well known throughout the world, is what I teach, Bihar / Satyananda Yoga.

  • The Bihar Yoga School in India, also known as Satyananda Yoga, is renowned for its scientific research. The Yoga Research Foundation is a scientific institute founded by Swami Satyananda, in 1984. It is in Munger which is in India. One of the most important factors that can be concluded from the Satyananda Yoga studies, of ancient yoga literature and modern scientific texts, is that there is not one but hundreds of causes of stress.

  • Bihar/ Satyananda Yoga provides a system that restores order to our lives, creating harmony so that imbalances in the form of diseases etc. drop away. The mind regains its peace, the emotions begin to harmonise and the body recovers its vital capacity, so that the individual can face life and its distractions with a greater sense of inner serenity and balance. The beauty of Bihar Yoga is that it slowly grows on one and it is totally on the practitioner to commit themselves to the practices.

  • The Bihar/ Satyananda Yoga System, is a complete science of harmonious living, suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender, nationality, religion, mental condition or level of fitness. It is a holistic system which addresses all aspects of human life in the spheres of physical health, mental condition or level of fitness. It is a holistic system which addresses all aspects of human life in the spheres of physical health, mental well- being, emotional behavior and work environment. Awareness is emphasized and practitioners are encouraged to learn about all aspects of their personality through yoga. Adjustment in stages is emphasised, not a total change in one’s lifestyle and environment.

  • Lastly, Satyananda Yoga is slow, steady and systematic, purposefully for the individual to adapt, adjust and accommodate in order to get in touch with themselves. You are going to go through a transformation of personal self- development, body mind emotions and spirit which will need acclimatising to.

BELINDA: SWAMI KAMALA QUESTION 2

Wow! So in order for us to start achieving these transformations, what’s the proper practice we need to start doing – or should I say what’s the proper practice that we as busy people could start doing as a minimum?

SWAMIN KAMALA: RESPONSE QUESTION 2

  • When Sri Sw. Satyananda established Bihar/ Satyananda Yoga, he developed a system of Outer and Inner yoga.

Outer Yoga, improves the quality of the body, mind, expression of the senses and your behavior. Remember, it is the effort that one makes in order to discipline the body and mind to be managed and handled. It prepares, reconditions and fine tunes oneself!! The emotions are also harmonised and then mind and senses start experiencing a new understanding!! You begin to feel peaceful thorough this harmonisation and creative expression kicks in!!

Inner Yoga, cultivates an attitude that changes one’s ideas and perceptions. This change is based on one’s experience and understanding through one’s practices. Most importantly one needs to go through preparation in order to keep the body still and understand the nature of the mind in order to meditate.

  • For these personal changes mentioned, I suggest a particular set of practices called the, ”Yoga Capsules”, created by Sw. Niranjananda. This takes no more than 15 minutes a day for busy people. Preferably in the morning upon rising, on an empty stomach, to be incorporated into your daily lives.

  • It is a series of movements in a sequence that is fixed. The stretching movements in conjunction with breathing, will assist in correcting imbalances on the physical, mental and emotional levels. This enables you to get in touch with yourself to manage and handle your life. Regular practices of any yoga technique creates a pattern in the body, mind and emotions. One will start benefiting immediately when commencing to practice and these benefits will continue escalating as you progress. After many years of practice perfection is attained and it becomes a lifestyle!!

  • At night before retiring to sleep, a ten-minute deep relaxation called Yoga Nidra is recommended, Monday to Friday will suffice, taking the weekend off!! This technique cultivates awareness in a state of deep relaxation. Yoga Nidra is the scientific method of removing tensions. It is a more efficient and effective form of rest. With daily practice, you will soon experience profound changes in your stress levels and sleeping habits. Please take note that natural chemicals called endorphins and melatonin are stimulated and released into the body, enhancing relaxation. This counters the effects of too much adrenalin and cortisol, due to high stress levels. This is all necessary and vitally important in preparation to meditate!!

BELINDA: SWAMI KAMALA QUESTION 3

I must say, those are all very practical steps and do seem possible to do each day. I’d now like to ask you, what do you think is going to happen in the 'yoga space' as it relates to Wellbeing programmes over the next 5 years?

SWAMI KAMALA: RESPONSE QUESTION 3

  • Unfortunately, city people accustomed to the modern brands of commercialised yoga, just cannot see beyond the body. Dabbling with a few breathing or meditation techniques, is limiting them. We are on the threshold of sincerely needing and seriously having to commit ourselves to handling and managing the moods of the mind. Improving one’s character and the personality traits we have has to be taken seriously!! These are the aspects of our personality that affect our lives directly. This needs to be discussed and mentioned in our yoga lessons / classes with a holistic and integral approach.

  • I personally and emphatically believe that this is the central theme which needs to be mentioned and practices incorporate, which understand the minds of the people collectively!! This is a core message for change that is imperative for the next 5 years ahead.

  • For this reason, until today, people have missed the opportunity of experimenting, realising and experiencing the true nature of yoga. It can take many years, it will take time for change, but the first steps have been taken. We must be aware of the other dimensions of yoga, which are equally important if not more, than stretching the body. These are called asanas and breathing techniques called pranayama.

  • We need to incorporate, elaborate and highlight the authentic practices of meditation, which helps in unleashing our potentials to perform better, in high-stress situations that we encounter in our working environment and daily living. “It helps the body to relax. It is the best tool to cope with lack of sleep. It reduces oxygen requirements and relaxes the metabolism. It also enables you to breathe deep and slow, instead of fast and shallow.” Yoga embraced holistically is the most powerful tool to help stay relaxed and improve health on all levels.

BELINDA SWAMI KAMALA QUESTION 4

Given the changes I’ve seen in my life since starting to practice yoga, I can completely agree with you. How can organisations incorporate this hugely beneficial practice of Yoga into their Wellbeing programmes to ensure they are at the forefront of developments in this important science over the next 5 years.

SWAMI KAMALA: RESPONSE QUESTION 4

  • Organisations have to first acknowledge the seriousness of how important it is to introduce an applied science like yoga, enabling individuals, to untangle themselves from the entanglement of their very own stress. This is basic self-help which is empowering not only to the individual, but also to the organisation, because a holistically well-balanced person, is also more productive!!!

  • So, the way forward is to teach and demonstrate simple, practical but effective techniques that have an immediate effect. Where quality of life is regained from a state of just purely existing. We are aiming towards self-help upliftment.

  • I also suggest creating a space in the work place where one can retreat to when necessary to manage oneself, for example in order to accelerate their energy level or to de-stress and relax. This must be designated as a quiet area, no talking, no phone calls and no interaction. The focus must be temporarily totally on oneself, to realign and then productively continue with one’s work.

  • By applying this one’s attitude changes, one becomes more enthusiastic, creative and productive, which is beneficial to the organisation, as well as the individual. This too can spill from the working environment into one’s personal life, where you too can practice leading a lifestyle of self - management. Self - management is the key word!!

  • Going forward, organisations can incorporate yoga workshops pertaining specifically to its staff, with manuals that can be referred to, as well as cd’s etc. Presented and overseen by someone like myself who has a good understanding and knowledge of yoga and personal self-development. Once an understanding is part of the ethos within the organisation, regular talks and updates should be arranged.

BELINDA: WRAP UP AND SUMMARY FOR SWAMI KAMALA

Thank you, Swami Kamala, as always, your insights and recommendations are both well researched and can easily be applied in our daily lives.

There’ve been thousands of studies into the science of yoga including meditation conducted over a number of years. And all these studies reflect numerous benefits for the individual arising from the practice of yoga.

With the growing number of people practicing yoga globally, it’s no surprise to now see it becoming an important part of Wellbeing programmes.

BELINDA: HUGO INTRODUCTION

Finally, but by no means least, it gives me great joy to introduce to you Hugo Ribatika. Hugo has vast experience within the Community arena, particularly in relation to Sport. He’s highly skilled in Marketing and Brand Management. He has a Sports Management Diploma from the International Olympic Committee and … has his Private Pilot’s License!

Hugo’s experience involves working as the Managing Director for Bolt Africa Sports Management Company, being a Radio Talk Show Host and TV Sports News Anchor and being the CEO of the Mash Eagles Cricket Franchise.

Hugo has also been and is currently a Board member of:

The Young People Foundation

The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee

The Brand Guy and Associates; and

The Harare Mayors Cheer Fund.

Welcome Hugo! I look forward to the insights you’ll be sharing with us on Community, Sports and Family.

BELINDA: HUGO QUESTION

Hugo, given your experience, where do you see Wellbeing going in the Community space over the next 5 years – particularly in relation to Sport? What are the major changes you see coming into this space? And tell us a bit about how families can start to better look after their Wellbeing.

HUGO: RESPONSE

I love sport, with a passion. About 10 years ago, I had the fortune of being recruited by a cricket franchise as its chief executive. One of my immediate challenges was to build rapport with the team in the shortest time possible. The biggest obstacle, naturally, was finding common ground with a bunch of twenty-year olds. Amongst my options of engagement were meetings in the boardroom, coffee, movies… nope, none of that was going to work.

After much pondering, I decided to join them for cricket practice a few days a week when they weren’t on the road. This meant changing out of my shirt and tie into a pair of shorts and trainers … and kicking a ball around for half an hour each morning because that’s what they did. They played footy for half an hour before practice proper commenced. The benefit was two-fold. I found my connection with my team and my wellbeing journey kicked off. I loved the experience and achieved phenomenal results both for the business and for myself as an individual.

So, what options are available for the average individual to engage in physical activity that will contribute to their wellbeing?

  • Trends are evolving with more community centered activities taking place. These various sports activities are significantly impacting the wellbeing space – many managed and created by former sports people. The frequency and proximity of these activities is increasing and changing too:

  • Running clubs – more and more people are getting together to run after work during a week day. Running in numbers both encourages and motivates the wellbeing agenda.

  • 5 Aside Football – a quick run around that offers high intensity a couple times a week has allowed a huge number of football lovers and fitness buffs the chance to achieve their wellbeing targets.

  • Yoga / Pilates – in the gym and in some parks across the city offers incredible opportunities to build focus around wellbeing.

  • Corporate runs and mountain biking – the running calendar is growing continually with scheduled wellbeing initiatives ranging from marathons to park runs and mountain biking. The perceived benefits and comradery emanating from these is pulling in more people and building communities of wellbeing. As a result, this will lead to improved health and increased longevity within communities. People will just feel enthusiastic about doing more with their lives.

Right now, however, obesity amongst young people is worrisome. The effects over time include early death for the ones you love at worst and a miserable life at best filled with discrimination of sorts.

The solution is not nearly as difficult as one would think. Sport / Physical activity. One of the single most important solutions to this problem is to involve kids in playing sport. The challenge that remains though is that some children are embarrassed by their weight or feel discouraged because they’re no good at the sport. Player to coach ratios in schools are pretty high. One coach will be expected to teach anything up to 30 or 40 kids. Coaches are intent on winning and will almost always focus on kids that have some talent – not on kids with potential. So – Let’s Play – with our kids. Buy them practical gifts – bicycles, tennis racquets, footballs etc.

Technology – is one of the most amazing gifts that we’ve received but also the bane of our existence. TV, Play Station, the internet have created more couch potatoes in our time than anything we could have ever imagined ten years ago.

However, one of the most amazing technological developments is the App. Hundreds of apps now allow you to exercise at home, on your own and in a limited physical space. Getting your kids off the couch has never been simpler. With the advent of the smart watch and Fitbit you can challenge your kids to exercise in exchange for the pleasure of play station and free time – fair trade I think that could save you thousands of Rands in future medical bills because you or them are a tad overweight.

BELINDA: WRAP UP AND SUMMARY FOR HUGO

Thank you, Hugo! Exercise has certainly turned around and changed my entire life. Nothing beats that feeling you get from exercise!

Contact me at bcarreira@welladvisers.com for a FREE initial consultation where we perform a FREE WELLBEING SURVEY upfront to diagnose what your organisations greatest needs are.

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