HOW YOGA CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER BUSINESS OWNER
As a practitioner and a teacher, I’ve referred countless people to yoga. From strangers I met sharing Lyfts and Ubers to my 85-year-old grandfather who was later on the cover of The Coastal Star newspaper while practicing chair yoga. Yoga helps reduce chronic back pain (that was my entry point), manage symptoms of serious mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder, and can help you stay in shape.
But yoga isn’t just for people! (And no, I’m not talking about goat yoga.) Yoga is for businesses too. Whether you have a personal practice or not, integrating lessons from the 5,000 year old yoga practice into your business can help you improve and sustain yourself and your business.
1. Build your foundation.
Whether you’re intentionally positioning your feet and legs in Parivrtta Trikonasana (revolved triangle), or identifying your value proposition and articulating it through your brand, you have to build your pose/business from the ground up.
Sometimes we want to race to what we view as the exciting stuff. The problem is, if the foundation isn’t there, your posture and business run the risk of toppling over. For example, imagine you’re launching a business and you can’t wait to get your name out there by launching your website and advertising campaign. If you haven’t figured out your branding, what your unique value proposition is, and why your product or service is worth the investment, then what are you going to put on the website? How can you convert a lead to a customer if they don’t understand what you do? Put the foundational work in first to be sure both your pose and your business have two feet to stand on.
2. Address samskaras.
According to Yoga International, samskara is the subtle impressions of our past actions, which alter our thoughts and behaviors. For example, maybe you don’t attempt to kick up into handstand or attempt to steal market share because you never have achieved it before.
The first step is to identify those thought and action patterns. Notice how they’re serving you and how they’re not. Is the fear keeping your body and business safe? Or holding you back? Don’t discount the aha or realization, but don’t just stop there either. After you’ve taken the time to acknowledge your samskara, move beyond the realization into action. Can you dig deeper and identify what underlying beliefs or limitations in your business model, staffing or finances that’s stopping your growth? Then, address those limitations, set yourself up for success, and go for it. Perhaps get a spotter for your handstand or a business partner or coach to “spot” your big business moves and double check you’re attempting the move safely.
3. Practice aparigraha.
Aparigraha is the last of Patanjali’s yamas or principles and restraints for ethical living. Aparigraha translates to non-stealing/greed and non-attachment. I practice aparigraha when I try to balance on my left foot. When it’s time to move on, I need to let go of the past failure and attempt the next pose in earnest. Otherwise, I’ll almost surely struggle with balance.
As you start or scale your business, practice aparigraha when you fail. You will fail (even if that failure is not taking enough risks to otherwise fail). You should certainly take the time to reflect and learn from what didn’t quite work out, but don’t let that deplete your confidence. Pick yourself back up and move on to what’s next. If your social media campaign didn’t result in enough leads, don’t give up on advertising or your business. Instead, learn from it — are they on TikTok rather than Facebook? If you don’t know that, can you do market research? — and move on.
4. Find or build community.
Many folks come to a yoga studio to feel that sense of community — otherwise they would be doing yoga at home with YouTube videos or a subscription service. That feeling of connection and warmth is palpable, and the space is better for it.
The same goes for your business. Entrepreneurship can be an extremely lonely and stressful endeavor. This experience can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as burnout, none of which is good for you nor your business! While it won’t solve everything, I recommend you find or build your community. There are many Facebook groups, virtual, and in-person networking events dedicated to all types of subjects. Chances are, there is one out there for you, and if there’s not, then you should build it. It may also be helpful to find an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
Yoga can be great for your health and your business’ health. This is only the beginning. I encourage you to look for business lessons elsewhere. From your daily commute (road rage/angry outbursts at colleagues hurts everyone), to sports (too many cliche metaphors to name!), to watching a scary or emotional movie (we remember how we feel much more than the plot itself — how can you recreate this for your clients/customers?) — the more we can integrate these lessons the better our businesses will be.
And above all else — remember to BREATHE!