” Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind” – Patanjali
I’ve been practicing Vinyasa Flow yoga at my gym for close to three years now. I initially started my practice at a personal low point. I had just gone through a bad breakup leaving me depressed, stressed, overweight, and out of shape. I had always been curious about yoga, as many regular readers of my blog may know I have spine and disc issues which are often a source of pain and limit my activities. My weekly yoga practice, coupled with a good diet and a traditional exercise program helped me lose 70 lbs, improve my self of well being, and most importantly put me on the path to thinking and acting in a more positive manner. It didn’t occur to me until earlier this week my yoga practice has also strengthened me as an entrepreneur and business partner.
1. I am a better listener and problem solver – Many successful entrepreneurs and mavericks of the business world have often cited listening as one of the more valuable skills a leader can have. Listening leads to a better understanding of the problem and in the end, a better defined solution. Good listening skills is also a key trait of good customer service, and is just plain polite. Yoga requires us to slow down and listen to our body or our mind through deep breathing exercises and concentration. I’ve found myself using deep breathing techniques to keep my mind quiet while listening to others, without even thinking about it.
2. I am more focused in my tasks – After a long day or week at the 9 – 5 I’ve often looked forward to my yoga practice as a may to simply relax. It’s not uncommon for an errant thought or issue to creep its way into my mind during my practice. I have been taught not to ignore the issue when it pops up but to breathe deep and allow it to flow away from my thoughts. This allows me to focus more on my practice and while at the same time, taking the negative power associated with the issue away and deflating it like a balloon. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy for one to want to abandon their plan in favor of the new gimmick to help improve your business or to be sidelined by issues outside of your business.
3. I can clearly define my goals with greater ease – At the beginning of each session a yoga practitioner, or yogini, is often asked to set an intention or a goal for the session. Yoga requires one to look inward to ask what they are lacking or what they need. Do you need energy or relaxation? Do you need clarity or peace of mind ? The instructor may be able to guide you but only the practitioner can define what their goal is for their practice. A goal statement in yoga is usually broken down into a mantra one may repeat to them self silently during the session as a way of staying on track. Lately I’ve often been faced with choices in my professional life, choices which reminds me to question how my decision will effect my long term success. Like my mantra, I have to repeat my goal to myself to remember to stay on track.
4. I can identify my strengths and accept my weaknesses better – My instructor makes it a concerted effort to remind the class yoga is considered a practice and not to be overly concerned if your pose isn’t perfect. If you struggle with a particular flow or position it isn’t a reflection of who you are as a student rather it shows the possibility of the yogini you can become. My back issues limit me tremendously in many poses, however I’ve learned to recognize the physical limitations I have and come up with alternative way to obtain the same stretch. As an entrepreneur, I am more at ease with my strengths and what I can handle in comparison to my business associates. Rather than struggle to be more like one of my business partners I’ve instead learned to ask them for help or even just tap into their strengths to improve my own business.
5. I am a more content person – As I mentioned earlier, when I started practicing yoga I was at a low point in my life on a few different levels. Yoga has helped fuel my desire to lead a positive life and spread good energy wherever I go. I have learned to ignore or evade negative energy I face, in some cases saying goodbye to negative people who were once a part of my life. My weekly yoga sessions allow me to cleanse my body, mind, and spirit of any negativity which would at times hold me back. Like clearing weeds from a garden, my yoga practice has allowed me to truly grow and bloom as a person. Don’t misunderstand me, I still get in a funk from time to time but I’ve found yoga to be one of the ways I get back on track.
I want to hear from you – what activities do you practice outside of your business do you feel help enhance your professional and/or personal life and how? Until then, namaste.
Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. He practices Vinyasa flow yoga twice a week and loves every second of it. So much that he aspires to become a yoga instructor one day.