After recovering from two back injuries over the past year, I learned the hard way the importance of stretching and relaxing your muscles.
I turned to yoga to help with my recovery and quickly realized there is way more to this practice than meets the eye. Not only did my back pain start to fade, I saw many other physical and mental benefits. Both my breathing and digestion improved noticeably, and so much more.
Despite the benefits, I started every session with impatience.
Yoga takes full concentration and it was hard to fully step away from work, technology and… life! For the first 5 to 10 minutes of each session, all I could think was, “I should be working.”
As time went on, I realized how much I enjoyed it and how much I needed to step away. The impact of yoga went beyond physical. It was both mental and spiritual.
As I was always attentive to the meaning and essence behind the poses, I learned a lot about the practice.
But it was when I started taking some of the teachings into my work life that I realized there are a lot of elements that, if implemented in business, can set off a positive transformational shift.
Here are 5 entrepreneurial lessons from yoga that help me in business:
1. Be a witness
When I first started practicing the tree pose, I was anything but a tree. I was more of a ballet dancer. A ballet dancer who couldn’t keep his balance.
As I continued to practice, my balance improved. I came to understand where my centre of gravity is.
But it wasn’t until my yoga teacher told me to become a witness, to take myself out of the equation, that I really began to get it.
She told me to look at myself from a bird’s eye perspective. When I did, I was able to clear my mind and maintain a perfect pose throughout the session.
It was so effective that in my busy entrepreneurial life I started experimenting with taking myself out of the equation. Viewing situations from high above helped get rid of illogical thoughts, clear my mind and view things from the perspective of a witness. From there, I could approach things from a stronger place and deliver more value.
2. There is always something to learn
When I started I thought yoga was mostly stretching. The moment I started training, I realized there was a spiritual aspect, a mental aspect, a physical aspect and that you learn a lot about your body.
I thought I knew my body pretty well, but yoga taught me there was so much more to learn about how my body works and what it is capable of.
In business, it’s easy to get comfortable with a strategy or concept once you think you know all there is to know. But if you maintain a mindset that there is always something new to be learned and force yourself to stay get comfortable being uncomfortable, you can grow your business (and help your clients grow) in incredible new ways.
3. Small (but real) relaxation goes a long way
Every yoga session ends with a pose called Shavasana. It is a restorative pose, meant to help you restore your energy.
The main benefit, at least for me, was clearing my mind, relieving stress and relaxing my body.
Waking up from Shavasana is like waking up from a 10-hour nap. You hold the pose for such a short time, but that small relaxation and disconnect goes such a long way.
Over a long, busy day, most of us jump from one thing to the next, never really relaxing. When we do relax, we don’t do it properly. We don’t fully disconnect and clear our minds, so the effect is not great.
Taking a short but serious pause from my work day goes a long way. It helps me make better decisions and deal with difficult situations from a place of calm.
As a yoga beginner, I concentrated a lot on getting each pose right. By the time I needed to take a breath, I was already out of it.
I was constantly forgetting to breathe.
Yoga taught me not only to remember to breathe, but how to breathe properly to make each movement and pose flow with ease.
How often do you find yourself out of breath or a little lightheaded as you immerse yourself in a project, activity or task? Too often, we forget to breathe and pace ourselves.
There’s a sense of urgency in many workplaces that make us feel like rushing is the only choice. But that usually results in becoming overworked or burned out.
There is another choice.
Pause. Notice your breath. Take time to breathe and breathe deeply. This will totally shift your mind and body to a more optimal and productive you.
5. Embrace flexibility
With regular practice, yoga is known to improve flexibility. How can it not with positions that twist and turn you in new and unusual ways like cobra, butterfly, frog, pigeon, crane and more?
Those poses move you in ways you never considered and the effect on your body and mind is transformational.
In business, pushing yourself to look at things from different angles and to try different strategies and tactics you may not have considered before expands your possibilities and continues to take you, your business and your clients to new heights.
I highly recommend yoga to everyone, but especially entrepreneurs. Try doing a yoga pose in the middle of the day when you are stressed. You might feel silly at first, but it will enable you to open your mind and see things from a new perspective so you can continuously up your game and succeed in ways you never imagined.