International Yoga Day 2022.21 June 2022
On a typical day, during a regular visit to the Air Works Maintenance facility at Hosur, there would be nothing odd that would strike you about P Vijayanathan and the way he goes about his tasks on the Operations floor. However, his infinite energy undoubtedly sets him apart. Ask him the reason for this and he breaks into a smile, as if hiding a secret!
Vijayanathan joined Air Works in 2019 and has been working at Hosur as Senior AME. He is married to Sreeja and has a 12 year old son – Srihari, studying in Class 7.
We’ve recently had the opportunity to corner Vijayanathan into a chat from his busy schedule at Hosur to try and get him to spill the beans about the source of this infinite energy and efficiency. Today, on the occasion of International Yoga Day 2022, we bring you excerpts from our discussion including his recipe for wellbeing that has been serving him perfectly at work and at home.
What was the genesis of your Yoga journey?
As an AME for over 25 years, the nature of my work involves being on my toes for hours together. Given our work profile that involves working in shifts and delivering focused work under strict timelines took its toll and about a decade ago, I developed some spine-related issues, as a result of ignoring my health. While the physical aspects of the issue got addressed via Ayurveda, I began to experiment with Yoga under advice from my physician, who recommended practicing it for long term healing. Since then, gradually, I have made Yoga a part of my life and devote an hour to it daily. Its benefits are obvious since now I am also able to play Tennis.
In 2020, I also took up the Breath and Meditation Program of the Art of Living, which blends Yoga, Pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya and with that, I have experienced a phenomenal change not just in terms of my physical wellbeing but also a transformation in mental health. My energy levels stay high throughout the day and I find that I am able to deal with most situations with a calm and focused state of mind – which is critical for our profile.
Did you have to sacrifice bits like family time/ eating out/ TV/ late nights etc. in order to integrate Yoga in your routine? How has been your journey and how does one analyze whether one is realizing its advantages or not? How much credit for your personal success in being an active individual would you accord to it?
The best part about Yoga is that you don't have to give up anything, per se. When one starts practicing it regularly, one begins to understand what works well for one’s body and mind and what doesn't and makes the correct or healthy life choices automatically. And the results of practice are obvious to oneself.
My journey has been wonderful, only because I have been relatively consistent. It wasn’t easy to begin with, given our work schedule, where it is comparatively easier to just skip a day or two in between, but before you know it becomes a week. However, one has to be strict with oneself at the beginning and as you understand the advantages it brings in your efficiency and state of mind on the days one’s practices, conviction starts to seep in.
In my case, my approach to situations has transformed considerably. Even in terms of physical wellbeing, I have experienced significant improvements in flexibility, immunity and energy levels. The benefits extend to intellectual and mental faculties including, improvement in problem solving ability, agility, stress management, productivity, social skills, ability to contribute to society at large and so on. Seeing extensive and all-round improvement in the above areas tells me that I am on the right track.
Does Yoga require a master, and have you taken any formal lessons for it? How has your regimen helped you at home and at the workplace?
I have done several programs with the Art of Living Foundation. While I’m not a certified Yoga Instructor yet, but its something I have on the radar. After so many years, I firmly believe that Yoga must be practiced under the supervision and guidance of a Master, in accordance with one’s health conditions.
For me, the most significant take away has been in terms of being able to live life to the fullest and give my hundred percent, balancing work, home and social commitments. I have consciously prioritized my wellness - both physical and mental through Yoga and meditation, given that a focused and clear mindset is a prerequisite to being an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer. My job demands tremendous attention, and one simply cannot make mistakes! Further, these tasks have to be carried out within tight deadlines and I find that my daily practice has helped me greatly by keeping my energy levels high throughout the day. Today, we increasingly need to manage stress successfully and Sudarshan Kriya helps me do this wonderfully.
To share an example, in 2021, I was working on back-to-back C checks on A320 NEO aircraft over a five-day period. The schedule was gruelling. There were so many tasks to be done in a short window, together with corresponding documentation, that resulted in long working hours, but with zero room for omissions or mistakes of any kind. During that period, my Yoga & meditation helped me stay rejuvenated and begin afresh everyday!
Is Yoga a very personal journey or being together in it, with your family, perhaps makes it easier & better?
This is a great question and an important one. I have been on this journey together with my spouse and it has helped both of us, given that we both live in different cities due to our work and also went through the pandemic. She is a Corporate Communications specialist. We both took this up because we felt a clear need to have a better and holistic quality of life. At one point, I guess we all realize that life isn’t just about material pleasures but has to have a greater purpose. Yoga and meditation is the first step we made in this direction and doing it together, has not just knitted us stronger but has also steadied our journey on the path.
Even my son has taken inspiration from us and has done a program called Utkarsh Yoga. Even his school now has a Yoga program, and we try and make sure that he does his practice every day.
Air Works is in motion 24/7. Someone somewhere in our organization is at work, handling a task? In what way, as per you, could Yoga help your colleagues create a more meaningful, fulfilling and productive life?
Balance is the key to our life and often we lose sight of this given our pressures and hectic schedules. I have worked in both Line Maintenance and Base Maintenance, and I can safely say that the aircraft maintenance engineering world is among one of the most challenging work environments. The environment requires gruelling hours, an eye for detail, physical flexibility, mental agility and the confidence to make decisions at every turn that could impact the safety of an aircraft. And above everything, deadlines loom large. The kind of pressure and the amount of focus that needs to be brought in can only be imaged. And if one does not invest sufficient time and energy to ensure that one’s body and mind are rejuvenated and revived to be able to take on challenges day-after-day, then not only can it take a toll on one’s health but could also potentially impair one’s work orientation or delivery capabilities.
I would urge everyone to do it NOW. In fact, I definitely recommend everyone to at least embrace Breath and Meditation exercises - offline or online, via institutions. Bhastrika Pranayama is advised to keep one's energy levels high. Today there are even several desktop Yoga methods available, which can be done during short breaks of 10-15 minutes as well. Of course, to stay committed towards wellness, one must see results. I did and that's what helped me stay dedicated to my daily practice. I can assure you that consistency brings changes and today, devoting 45 minutes to an hour selfishly for one’s own wellbeing is the least anyone can do.