by Jaimie Siegle | Advertising Systems, Inc.
Yoga isn’t just for the granola-crunching hippies and health nuts. While there are several proven health benefits to the ancient practice (stress relief, weight loss and flexibility, to name a few), there’s also some sage wisdom that can be helpful for entrepreneurs, business owners and managers alike.
I try to practice yoga a few times a week. But when that doesn’t happen, I take what I’ve learned on the mat and apply it to my life at work:
1. To reap big rewards, you’ve got to reach out of your comfort zone.
There are some yoga poses that can be, at first, uncomfortable. Your head is tilted, your eyes are closed, your back is bent, your legs start shaking and your body seems to be screaming, “this is unnatural!” But as your instructor will tell you, breakthroughs happen when you’re out of your element; and I’ve found this to be true both in fitness, at work, and in life in general.
2. When you fall down, get up and try again.
Handstands, headstands and other inversions (as they are called in yoga) are a regular happenstance in advanced yoga classes. And although I practiced in my apartment for days before attempting it in class, my first time doing it at a studio still involved me tumbling down like a recently chopped rainforest tree.
Yes, everyone will hear and see you fall. But yoga’s not the place to judge or compare yourself to others. When you return to class in a few days and nail the pose, the victory tastes that much sweeter. In business, you’ll have to accept failure, and you might have to own up to it among others. Just remember to dust off your fanny and keep on truckin’, because that’s the only way we succeed.
3. Sometimes it’s OK to not be as productive as you were yesterday.
Instructors will tell you that your practice is personal, and just because you held tree pose for five minutes last week doesn’t mean you have to beat your time today. In yoga, pushing yourself is a good thing – but not to the point of pain. The business / work lesson I’ve learned here is that by taking care of yourself (getting enough sleep, building relationships, taking the time to collect your thoughts), you’ll be more productive in the end. And sometimes the hardest thing to do – whether you’re working on a project, writing a business plan or training for a marathon – is take a break.
4. Always remember to focus and breathe.
Yoga takes some serious concentration and an ability to tune out your surroundings, and both of these skills come in handy at the office. During stressful times when I’m on a tight deadline, I often need a “me” moment to regroup. I think about the goals I’m working toward and picture myself accomplishing them. I stop checking my inbox for a good hour and flip my phone over so I don’t reach for it every time it lights up or vibrates. Then, I get to work and try as hard as I can to put on my tunnel vision goggles.
5. Never stop learning, and practice, practice, practice.
The mat is the place I go to challenge myself. I’d love to say that after attending a class I usually feel like I’ve learned a ridiculously difficult pose, but mastery takes time and dedication. Most of the time, I end up learning something about myself. I try to learn something different each class.
At work, I try to learn something every day too. From blogging and social media to networking and business etiquette, there are millions of tips and tricks to learn. For me, the only way to master a skill is to do it – regardless of how unfamiliar it is – and keep doing it until it becomes second nature. One day I’ll get there, but by then there will be something else to learn.
What lessons have your hobbies taught you? Share them with us!