The next time you travel by bus and are stuck in a traffic jam, don’t be surprised to find the driver exhaling deeply. Stop fretting and join him in pranayama or share a laugh with him.

In a bid to reduce stress level among bus drivers and lessen chances of accidents, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation Limited has introduced yoga and life-skills classes for its employees. Included in the package are a few lessons in effective communication too.

The MTC has nearly 9,000 drivers and the same number of conductors. There are also other employees like checking inspectors. “The drivers undergo a lot of stress while driving and this, sometimes, causes accidents. When a driver is involved in a fatal accident, he is sent for compulsory yoga training. But we need to avoid the pressure that leads to mishaps and hence we introduced this course. Yoga session were held earlier but discontinued a few years ago,” said a senior MTC official.

The yoga training is conducted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the first and last week of the month. “About 65 employees attend each session. They are taught meditation, pranayama (breath control), kayakalpa (to improve life force and maintain youthfulness) and other physical exercises,” said the official.

Apart from yoga, the MTC staff is also being trained in communication. “On a daily basis, they interact with hundreds of passengers and they have to be polite. At times, they tend to lose their cool due to intense work pressure. Yoga reduces stress and improves their interaction with the public,” said the official.

A bus driver who underwent yoga training found it beneficial. “In the first week itself, I felt the stress levels going down. The intense heat coupled with tight trip schedules cause a lot of hardship. I am especially fond of the breathing techniques which help me relax,” the driver said.

The employees have been asked to practise yoga at home too. “My attitude and behaviour towards family members, too, has changed,” the driver said.

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