Are you wondering what yoga has to do with leadership?
I have done yoga for almost 10 years and I still continue to learn not only the yoga poses but what yoga can teach about myself, life and leadership. When I started yoga 10 years back, it was purely as an exercise and to improve my flexibility. Most of the yoga instructors will tell you that yoga is a connection between mind, body and soul and the common link is through your breath. I used to hear this but never quite understood the real essence.
My journey with yoga in the first two-three years, was one of hate and love. However, where I stand today with yoga is one of love, where I have learnt to overcome some of my frustrations of inflexibility. This is where yoga is like leadership, in that a leader doesnâ€™t take credit only when the going is good but stands through tough times and journeys through them.
1) Humility – most start-off with yoga with the aim to be able to do all the complicated poses. Some of us are able to do these poses easily whilstÂ some others arenâ€™t.
If you are able to do almost all the poses, and you let your ego rule you, and not be humble and improve on the finer aspects of each pose, there is a high risk of injuring yourself and facing the consequences of the injury.
The beauty about yoga unlike running on a treadmill or aerobic exercise is that your body indicates to you that it is not ready for that pose. It is here that we need to accept what we are capable of with humility. It is no different from a leader being self-aware and accepting what they are capable of and seeking out the answers to what they donâ€™t know.
2) Patience – even after 10 years, I am yet to get comfortable with some of the yoga poses. I used to get frustrated initially but yoga has taught me to be patient and accept that some things take time. You cannot run before you learn to walk, in the same way yoga teaches you to be present and engaged in that moment with that pose. What is important is the willingness to recognize, acknowledge and pay heed to the present moment.
A leader cannot expect to achieve their vision in a day. Rome wasnâ€™t built in a day. A leader, to be respected has to gain trust, respect and have their thoughts, audio and video in sync.
3. Comfort Zone – the beauty about yoga is that you need to get out of your comfort zone to learn new poses, fine tune those poses with the right breath. It is achieving the right balance between challenging yourself to try a pose that stretches you and being aware of the extent to which you can push yourself. The important link here is the breath. Your breath tells you when you have gone beyond your limits as long as you listen to it.
A leader can grow and develop only by being authentic, self-aware and yet pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.
4. Mindfulness – I have learnt the art of mindfulness in yoga. I have injured myself when I have done a pose without my full focus. It is during these injuries that I learnt that the body, mind and soul has to be in sync and that is possible by concentrating on my breath. Focusing on breathing helps you ease on the pose and I have learnt this from experience.
Leaders have to be mindful in who they are and what they do. Lack of focus and attention will affect their communication and relationships with their team. Yoga teaches you to let go yet not give up. Leaders have to learn to let go, learn from disappointments and mistakes and yet not give up on their passion.
5) Gratitude– being thankful to your body and being content with the practice helps you keep an open mind. At the end of the practice, if you resent what you couldnâ€™t do, your body and mind gets into a vicious circle of negativity.
A leader recognizes that positive emotional awareness is a necessity. You can be a realist but adopting negativity saps the energy from the leader and all whom they influence.
I still have my moments of frustration but far less than what I used to. I recognize that I have to accept what I can do and in the earnestness to challenge myself, I should not forget to be gentle and kind with myself. Yoga empowers not only your body but also your mind. There are many moments during the practice of yoga you feel overwhelmed but if you maintain a calm composure with your breath, you are able to overcome those moments. Life is a roller coaster and the choice to take the right attitude lies with each of us.
Are you going to let your ego take over or will you seek humility in your achievements?
Have you tried yoga?
What have you learnt from yoga?
What are your perceptions about yoga?
Do you always associate yoga with flexibility?
Are you open to challenges ?
What attitude do you take when you face adversity?