We've all seen those Insta-yogis folding themselves up like human origami and thought… WOW! But yoga isn't just visually impressive; it's really good for you and potentially good for your business/work life.
It's no secret that we're a generation of work addicts, even when we are experiencing chronic job dissatisfaction. Everyone is in an elbow-barging race to succeed, which can sometimes leave us feeling lost and untethered.
Many of the lessons taught through more holistic practises such as yoga and meditation can be translated from the mat to the boardroom – and here's how.
1) The 'Right Livelihood' model
This term is derived from Buddhist traditions, but has been broadly used to refer to work or jobs that lead to positive and compassionate contributions to the world. Much like yoga, 'right livelihood' is about restoring peace and balance; in a business context, this could mean ethical business practices, an environmentally friendly office, social change partnerships, charity endeavours or even promoting creative work that expresses people's passions and talents.
2) Confidence & Practising Flexibility
If at first you don't succeed? Well, most people don't complete a start to finish, perfect yoga routine on the first try. But long-term devotees will tell you that starting is the biggest hurdle. Repeatedly practising the same routine will mean that your flexibility improves and you'll ultimately be able to perform complex movements that you couldn't previously. Being in tune with this journey of self-improvement is parallel with being successful and confident at work. If a task or role is scary to you, start implementing little parts of it into your day; gradually you'll improve in skill, but also confidence. Downward dog to Warrior III? No probs.
3) Increased Creativity
In day to day life, it's easy to feel that you're losing your creative outlet – simply running in the hamster wheel of adulthood. Yoga's link to mindfulness and bodily awareness centres your psyche and focuses your mind, body and soul. This refocusing and daily 'check-in' with yourself can act as a morning to-do list or evening recap of your goals. Regular yoga practice is linked to increased creativity by realigning your mental processes and refocusing your goals. These benefits make yoga perfect for people who work for themselves or for anyone who needs to recap their goals and regain focus.
4) Stress Reduction
Life is stressful and the aforementioned hamster wheel can start to feel like it's spinning faster and faster. It has been proven that yoga reduces the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression – side effects of prolonged stress. Regulated breathe, release of endorphins and stretching out muscle tension is key to yoga. Slow breathing unlocks the nervous system and stretching activates the rest and digest response - linked to cortisol/stress hormones. These moments of tuning into your stress can help alleviate its symptoms and prevent burnout.
See also: Top tips to alleviate stress at work
5) Temporary pain for long term gain
When you first start, there are certainly some painful moments in your yogi journey. But…nothing is forever. Life is full of uncomfortable situations, but like settling into hip opening pose, just breath in and embrace it. Like everything in life, it's only temporary.
6) You have a choice
In contradiction to the last point, in both business and yoga – things might get a bit too much. If you're struggling with a pose, you might modify it or only hold it for shorter periods of time, and this translates into work situations. If a particular task or co-worker makes you feel a way you dislike, adapt the situation. Whether that means you work out the best way to approach a particular person, or whether you change up the way you complete a task, you have a choice as to how you respond to things. Bounce-back-ability is as important in yoga as it is in good business.
The foundation of these lessons is that in both growth and failure, there are gains. You either learn from it, grow from it or change from it – whether that's a position, yoga session, or a tough business decision.
The practice of yoga has exceptional health benefits, particularly for your mind. To be successful in business or good at your job, you need to be centred and sound of mind. If you're stressed and burnt out you'll make further mistakes, become more deeply unhappy and potentially even putting your business or job in jeopardy.
Why not try implementing some of these practices into your work life and even take a few yoga classes… and breathe. Peace.