Yoga As An Especially Apt Metaphor For The Life Of An Entrepreneur

My mom used to say that when you really need to learn something, a teacher arrives. Sounds rabbinical, and probably is.

I thought about that one evening a few months ago in the gym while I waited for our Pilates teacher to arrive. She was very late so I passed the time watching a yoga instructor work with a middle aged man. I was amazed, the guy was so flexible he seemed to be rotating his body on one hand.

Later, I asked the instructor, Cecy Lainez, about learning yoga and her calm voice made my hassled day seem to fall away and it was good. I’d considered yoga and tried some classes a few years ago with my friend Andrea Nierenberg. I hated it, mostly because it was boring.

Cecy seemed to do it differently. Not boring. So I just flat out asked her if she’d teach a special regular class for me and my friend Angela. Now I’m really into it. Not all that good at it yet, but into it. It’s fun.

I’ve discovered that whatever is going on in my head will manifest on the yoga mat, which is a little weird.

And, surprisingly, it occurs to me every day that working out on a yoga mat is very much like being an entrepreneur. Yoga means “to join or yoke together,” and it brings the body and mind together in one harmonious experience. In my case, I’d add “eventually”.

Sometimes nothing seems to work

That’s the first thing yoga and running your own business have in common. We all know what that’s like in marketing. You zoom along and everything works, clients are happy, and slam, suddenly a brick wall. We just hit one the other day. A big client hired a hot new sales and marketing director who brought in his old agency. It happens – the most common way to lose a client and you don’t even get a chance to defend yourself. Ah, well, as Jerome Kern put it “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.”

In the meantime, that is exactly what I am doing as I try to learn the darned warrior pose in yoga. Pick myself up … literally!

The second thing that occurs to me is that it takes a lot of discipline to keep working at the tricky elements: in yoga, it’s mastering poses, in running your business, it’s all the day to day administrivia, such as reviewing the financials, figuring out year-to-date, employee annual reviews. I do it….but it is a lot like stretching into warrior pose.

Recently, I began having a challenge with tree pose, of all things. I had nailed it and now, nothing worked. But, up in Alberta earlier this week, I asked a real yoga person why she thought that would happen. She said something so smart: “When your life is out of balance, you can’t do a tree pose or any other physical balancing.” My life is out of balance because of a dear friend’s health crisis.

Yoga also teaches us an important lesson: stick-to-it-iveness with patience

If a client hands you a really tough assignment (at the moment, in our case, it’s a total Marketing Plan for next year), maybe yoga practice will help you have greater patience over time to get it done in stages.

Patience is hard for me….especially when I have to hold a pose as Cecy counts to 5 very slowly. It seems like it takes her 5 minutes to get there. But as I get used to it, the discipline helps me get through work tasks too, writing copy for a client’s insurance blog, answering client’s questions, reviewing ads and doing my tweeting in between.

I used to think I had Attention Deficit Disorder as I jumped around so much from one job to another. Now, after getting back to yoga, I believe that focus and mindfulness help you be more relaxed and productive. At the end of the day, I think about the facts that I:

  1. Meditated for only 10 minutes….for myself.
  2. Did a Tree Pose or a Morning Salutation in my office.
  3. Practiced “mindfulness” and focus on a project.
  4. Figured out if my life was in balance by testing my physical balance.
  5. Feel less stresses and appear less aggravated by minor annoyances during the day (like when the Internet goes down).

I read recently that Yoga Classes are pretty common in offices these days. I work with a number of talented but curmudgeonly people who’ll be tough to convert but I’m willing to try. Are you?

Source: Forbes

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