Yoga for People on Shift Duty

S.R. Borgaonkar, Shift Manager, Bokaro Steel Plant

In a steel plant, shift duty becomes an unavoidable evil as the inherent nature of the operational processes is such that they demand continuous attention. Many people on shift duty are unable to cope with the unique problems that arise due to the irregular life routine imposed on them.

Having worked on shift for several years, I have found certain simple yogic techniques helpful in facing these problems.

Sleeplessness

This is one of the most common complaints faced mainly by shift executives and supervisors who shoulder heavy responsibility and also have a tendency to worry unnecessarily over trivial matters. Even without problems, it is difficult to sleep on a hot day, with children shouting or a loudspeaker blaring near the house, and the power supply cut off.

It is a well known fact that continuous use of sleeping tablets is bad for health and moreover the body develops immunity to them in the course of time. At this juncture a yogic technique called yoga nidra (psychic sleep) comes as a panacea to everyone on his way to becoming an insomniac. When practised correctly, this technique produces such deep relaxation that one hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to 4 hours of deep sleep. It is also a sure way to fall asleep on a hot day.

This technique can easily be learned from a yoga teacher, or even from a tape or book. Once learned, it becomes a life asset as it helps you to relax whenever you want.

Constipation

Constipation is a universal malady, but people doing shift duty, especially those who are forced to sit in one place for long durations as in dispatchers, control rooms, etc., are liable to suffer from it to a greater extent.

The automatic regulation of metabolic processes slows down the heart rate and blood circulation after midnight. Therefore, if a person on night shift is sitting upright, blood tends to accumulate in the lower portions of the abdomen and legs. This causes the blood vessels around the colon to dilate, thereby constricting this passage and causing constipation. If this effect is prolonged, it causes piles. This process is not so pronounced in persons doing sedentary work in the daytime as the blood is able to circulate more freely.

The simplest and best remedy for this is an inverted asana like sarvangasana. This helps the accumulated blood in the lower abdomen and legs to move towards the lungs, thereby aiding oxygenation of impure blood and also normalisation of the colon. Five minutes of sarvangasana is sufficient to completely counteract the problem of blood stagnation in the lower parts of the body caused by an eight hour shift.

This has been my experience, and I believe that yoga, as a therapeutic system, is especially suited for treating all the constitutional disorders which arise from the irregular routine imposed on the body by shift duty.