On the microcosm of my yoga mat, I've learned (and unlearned) some of the most potent lessons that serve me in the macro of life, and in my business. Whether or not you're a yogi, or even a business owner, these lessons are relevant to everyone who's navigating this crazy journey we call life....
This week I'm back in the studio after completing my yoga teacher training, and I still feel like I'm floating a little. I faced some of my biggest fears - speaking in public, trusting that I have value to offer as a teacher - and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my whole life. Deep connection to myself, my practice, my fellow yogis and my higher purpose. A shedding of stories and limiting beliefs that didn't serve me. Tears, joy, and a whole lot of laughter. I taught my first yoga class at a gym on Tuesday, and it was super fun!
Given that yoga has been a key part of my life for the last five years, this is a post I've had in mind for a while. This list could have been a mile long, but knowing the average attention span I've managed to narrow it down to my top four lessons!
1. Keep your eyes on your own mat.
It’s easy to look over at someone who seems to be effortlessly floating into a challenging pose, and feel like you’re not enough. But for most of us, it takes months or years of practicing that pose to find a sense of ease. We can never truly know what someone else’s journey has been, or what’s happening in their life at any given moment. Comparison won’t get you anywhere, and it’s often catalysed by stories we’ve constructed based on our own insecurities.
The same principle applies in business: don’t compare your perceived success to anyone else’s. While it may appear - especially on social media - that someone you admire has become a success overnight, it’s likely that they’ve spent an abundance of time and energy behind the scenes. Instead of falling into jealously or insecurity, send that person love and gratitude for showing you what’s possible. Then get back to focussing on your own journey, both on and off the mat.
Instead of falling into jealously or insecurity, send that person love and gratitude for showing you what’s possible.
2. Seek progress, not perfection.
There’s a reason they call it a yoga practice – you never quite arrive at your destination. Your body, energy levels and mental capacity fluctuate daily, and you don’t know exactly what you're working with until you arrive on your mat.
Approach your business with the same curiosity you would a yoga class. Start each day with an open mind, and without rigid expectations about how how things will unfold. Before you go to sleep each night, let go of anything you think you should have done better. The goal isn’t to master life (or that yoga pose!) but to focus instead on growth and improvement. Success is not a destination, so you may as well embrace the highs and lows of the journey!
Start each day with an open mind, and without rigid expectations about how how things will unfold.
3. Find the balance between effort and ease.
In a yoga class, we’re encouraged to be both strong and flexible - to breathe into areas of tension or challenge without forcing our body into any given shape. The term for this is yogic philosophy is sthira sukha, which translates from Sanskrit as sthira - firm, strong, resolute, and sukha - good space, ease, sweetness. In order to go deeper into a pose, strength and ease are both required.
Consider a challenge you’re facing right now... What would it mean to find a sense of ease and flexibility while maintaining strength and integrity in that situation? Both are equally necessary in business. A good leader knows when to be flexible, to adapt, and to let go. Can you soften just enough to dance with the flow of life?
What would it mean to find a sense of ease and flexibility while maintaining strength and integrity?
4. Presence is the key to a meaningful experience.
If there’s one important thing yoga has taught me, it’s how to drop into the present moment. We spend so much time with our minds drifting through the past or future, when life is unfolding right in front of us. Yoga requires you to be present in body and mind, to notice the nuances of your physical shape, and to sit in stillness with your mental chatter. In the studio, my level of presence directly influences how meaningful my creative work is. If I’m thinking about the other five things on my to do list, I can’t immerse myself in the task at hand, which means the work I create isn’t as high quality (and probably takes twice as long...)
If you’re having a conversation or answering an email, give 100% of your attention to that person. If you’re working on a project, minimise any distractions and lose yourself in the task at hand. Like anything, presence takes consistent practice. We’ve all experienced the feeling of being ‘in the zone’ at some point - where time seems fall away, and hours pass in what feels like seconds. The more you devote yourself to moment-by-moment awareness, the more time you’ll spend in that state of flow.
The more you devote yourself to moment-by-moment awareness, the more time you’ll spend in a state of flow.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you practice yoga or meditation? How has it impacted your business, and your life? Comment below and let me know.
Have a wonderful week,