Balancing act with yoga


Maximising the balance between professional and personal living is the ideal for everyone. It could be hard in today’s working environment of a rat-race, yet it is not mission impossible. Som Kanika reaches out to Parul Lanka, a director of the Art of Living Cambodia, who is an expert in the field of well-being.

Lanka: A balanced life means to live a life of fulfilment where you juggle with aspects from professional to social and personal, to achieve harmony. It’s vital to maintain a balanced life because we need balance in everything we do. Life without balance is a dysfunctional life that will threaten your personal growth.

GT2: How do you measure a balanced life? Do you find any misconceptions people have today about living?

Lanka: To measure if you are living a balanced life by doing a self-reflection on yourself. Pause for a moment and ask if you are satisfied with what you’re doing with your life. With all the achievements so far, are you at present time living in harmony and peace of mind? Your own answer will reflect how you determine your own definition of a balanced life.

Commonly, people have a lot of misunderstandings about the way they are living their lives by encouraging the notion of constantly working all the time and achieving more and more to fulfill the endless desire of goals and dreams, to the point that they get reckless with their mental and emotional wellbeing which are core assets of their very existence.

GT2: What you think about most Phnom Penh residents today? What is the physical and mental toll they are facing? And how does this affect them?

Lanka: Cambodia people are very passionate. They work all the time without break. We all have a ‘fire’ igniting our passion to do a particular thing and this fire is supposed to give us light, not burn us. This leads to a concern on health. Everyone wants to be perfect regardless of everything, from professional to personal life, which to my observation, at least one among four of my Cambodian students who come to take yoga for a balanced life are having a sleeping problem. Deprivation of sleep is a major threat to the body and brain systems. Sleep deficiency and deprivation can contribute to many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart attack and even cancer. Thus, securing your mental peace for a balanced life is as important as improving your professional life’s growth.

GT2: Speaking of workplace, what do you think about the working environment in Cambodia? How can the physical well-being of employees be promoted?

Lanka: Many people in Cambodia are very professional and very multitasking. Each individual tries to play so many roles. For instance, a client of mine was not just a university student but also an employee at a company, plus she was also a business owner. My surprise is ‘how!’ Well, this is a good sign but also implies today’s worldly value of reaching the top. That everyone must do this, even if it means sacrificing their welfare to fulfill that desire.

A busy working environment is good but if it makes you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, you should take a break and take care of yourself.

In order to promote the well-being of employees, all of us should acknowledge the fact that the potential of a company can be developed as long as the productivity, efficiency and capacity of employees can improve too. Therefore, a company or organization should provide their staff with a training programme such as yoga, learning how to breathe (which is really important) and meditation.

GT2: How does an employee’s well-being affect business and productivity?

Lanka: People work more efficiently when they don’t feel stressed or congested inside which is similar to the idea of going through a traffic jam to reach office. You clearly know that if you get up earlier and drive with no traffic congestion, you will get to your office in a short time. This reflects how productive employees will be, if they can think and work in a less-stress environment. Employees will be able to find solutions to problems more productively.

GT2: We are what we eat. Many workers in Cambodia today do not have much time to pay attention to what they eat. Do you have any recommendation for their diet?

Lanka: This issue is regarded as one of the main problems in our modern day life as we are too busy with our work to the point that we forget about our own well- being. A healthy diet is a fundamental principle to secure a healthy and balanced living. Eat less sugar, eat less dinner, less coffee and consume more vegetable should be a balanced diet that is very essential to keep in order to lower the risk in developing health problems.

GT2: You mentioned Yoga as a form of activity to promote well-being. Yet, how do we practise it, given a busy schedule?

Lanka: Living a prosperous life is everyone’s dream but being committed to live an efficient life is key to promote your welfare and a balanced life. A combination of yoga, meditation and proper breathing and calming down yourself properly is not be an option but a necessity which people need to adopt in their habit of living.

One of the surprising facts people don’t realise is that your breath releases 90% of toxic chemicals in your body. Anyone learning yoga doesn’t have to take one or two hours a day; 15 minutes is all you need. After learning how to do Yoga, you will realise the difference between: a day with yoga and a day without.

You will discover a change for the better in both your mental and physical health, while yoga will strengthen your ability to think in decision-making.