How Yoga and Meditation at Work Are Boosting the Corporate Bottom Line

If you heard that something could:

  • help 80% of the managers at work make better decisions
  • make 89% of them better listeners
  • reduce stress levels among all employees by a third,

you and your bosses would probably be busting through doors, racing through aisles and clearing shelves to stockpile the stuff.

But this isn’t a magic pill that can be bought. This miracle drug is yoga, meditation and mindfulness training, all of which are beginning to infiltrate corporate America and improve the functioning and morale of employees. Plus studies are beginning to show that these practices benefit the corporate bottom line.

Read on to find out how these Eastern practices are becoming part of the culture at multinationals as all-American as General Mills (maker of Cheerios), Target and Google–and how you can apply the practices to improve your work life.

From Buddhism to Boardroom

It may not be a surprise that digitally distracted Silicon Valley has embraced New Age principles. The annual Wisdom 2.0 conference gathers the spiritually minded of Silicon Valley every year to get more mindfulness tips, and Steve Jobs famously was a Zen Buddhist who said the teaching’s principles helped shape Apple’s product design.

Google’s mindfulness program is a free seven-week course called S.I.Y. for “Search Inside Yourself,” which is offered four times a year and has trained 1,000 employees in attention training, self-knowledge, self-mastery and the creation of good mental habits. It always has a waiting list of 30 for the 60-student class.

But mindfulness is spreading from the coasts to the heartland. Human resources firm Aon Hewitt estimates that a quarter of large U.S. employers have stress reduction initiatives. Minneapolis-based Target’s Meditating Merchants program has 500 participants who meet weekly for a lunchtime meditation. And General Mills, also based in Minneapolis, is an unlikely leader in this space.

Mindfulness in the Midwest

General Mills’s Midwestern workforce is predominantly white, and its leafy headquarters look like a typical corporate campus. But as The Financial Times Magazine reports, throughout the week, there are decidedly uncorporate elements to the employees’ workaday lives: namely, regular meditation sessions for executives and team leaders and yoga classes for senior employees. Plus, every building on the General Mills campus has a room outfitted with zafus, which are meditation cushions, and yoga mats, so employees can duck in whenever they need a few minutes of child pose.

These Zen amenities are part of a company-wide program called Mindful Leadership, which has so far taught more than 400 executives at the Fortune 200 company gentle yoga and sitting meditation practices from Buddhism; it has even trained 250 outside executives and entrepreneurs.

During one two-hour extended session at General Mills, about 50 people sporting comfortable clothing (including bright yellow Cheerios gear) sat cross-legged or kneeling on meditation cushions. The leader, Janice Marturano, rang Tibetan prayer bells three times and said, “Take a posture that for you in this moment embodies dignity and strength. Allow the body to rest, to step out of busyness, bringing attention to the sensation of each breath.”

The executives sighed, letting stress fall away (the company’s first mass layoffs had just been announced) and listened to Marturano’s instruction to focus attention on their breath and to sensations in the body. After 30 minutes, the group also engaged in a half hour of gentle yoga poses and then listened to a talk by Marturano on mindfulness … and the layoffs. “When we’re in any kind of transition in our lives it’s so easy to get into the swirl and get lost,” she said. “Use this practice to gain stability in the mind.”

Evidence That Mindfulness Makes for Better Workers

Mindful Leadership began in 2006 when Marturano took 13 General Mills executives on a five-day retreat at a bed-and-breakfast. “There was quite a buzz when that first group went through,” says Beth Gunderson, General Mills’ director of organization effectiveness.

Since then, the program’s anecdotal success led the company to look into its efficacy, and the initial results should make executives across the country sit up and take notice. As the FT reports, “After one of Marturano’s seven-week courses, 83% of participants said they were ‘taking time each day to optimize my personal productivity’–up from 23% before the course. Eighty-two percent said they now make time to eliminate tasks with limited productivity value–up from 32% before the course. And among senior executives who took the course, 80% reported a positive change in their ability to make better decisions, while 89% said they became better listeners.”

Other companies conducting mindfulness programs have also found good results. A study in which Aetna partnered with the Duke University School of Medicine found that one hour of yoga a week lowered employee stress levels by a third and cut health care costs by an average of $2,000 per year.

How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Workplace

The General Mills and Google programs have found so much success that the founders of each are branching out. General Mills’s Marturano has founded the Institute for Mindful Leadership, a non-profit that will train executives in these techniques, and Chade-Meng Tan, the Google S.I.Y. teacher, came out with a book, “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace),” which was published in 17 markets around the world.

But even if you don’t have a mindfulness program at work, here are some principles you can use to ease your stress:

  • Sit in a comfortable position, with your back straight.
  • Close your eyes and observe the physical sensations in your body.
  • Notice the thoughts that flit through your mind, but don’t react to them.
  • Watch these fleeting sensations, not judging yourself for your thoughts.

In time, developing the habit of detaching from your thoughts and watching them will start to quiet the mind and reduce stress. Studies have shown that meditation reduces the brain’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Two practices from the Google program will help you prioritize your tasks at work. One asks everyone to name three core values. “It centers you,” one participant told The New York Times. “You can go through life forgetting what they are.” The second is to write nonstop for seven minutes about your vision for your life in five years.

And when it comes to dealing with workplace stress and annoyance, you can also start using a tool nicknamed the Siberian North Railroad but really called S.B.N.R.R. for Stop, Breathe, Notice, Reflect and Respond.

Google director of executive development Richard Fernandez told The Times that after taking the S.I.Y. course, “I’m definitely much more resilient as a leader. I listen more carefully and with less reactivity in high-stakes meetings. I work with a lot of senior executives who can be very demanding, but that doesn’t faze me anymore. It’s almost an emotional and mental bank account. I’ve now got much more of a buffer there.”

We’ll have some of what he’s having.

Putting Meditation Back on the Mat

Seated cross-legged on a black cushion atop a yoga mat, I struggled to keep my eyes closed and repeat the Sanskrit mantra in my head: ham-sa — I am that. Outside, on Third Avenue, police sirens wailed and cars honked as I tried to sit still in a room with eight other meditation students, keeping my breath slow and steady. Just as I was about to lose the focus on my breath, a soothing voice nearby chimed in: “You can hear the noises without getting attached to them. The attention comes from the inside.”

The voice belonged to Michael Bartelle, a tall, slender yoga and meditation teacher. The city kept up its racket, but for the next 18 minutes, Mr. Bartelle thoughtfully guided our midday meditation, occasionally offering encouraging comments. It was part of a one-hour class at Ishta Yoga that included movement and breathing exercises.

Ishta Yoga, with studios in Greenwich Village and on the Upper East Side, is one of a growing number of yoga centers in the city that are reporting increased meditation on the mat.

The asanas, or poses, of yoga are traditionally meant to prepare the body for meditation. But as yoga has been consumed by the gym and physical fitness industry in recent years — to the tune of an international yoga championship — many people have come to yoga for the workout, period.

Still, once they are there, they are often introduced to meditation, as well.

“Yoga is the gateway that opens the door for people to try modalities that they normally wouldn’t,” said Beth Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit, a fitness education program, based in Los Angeles that trains many of the yoga teachers at the city’s more than 50 New York Sports Clubs. A team from the clubs recently discussed with YogaFit the possibility of a meditation workshop at its annual conference for fitness professionals, which will be held in November in New York.

Cyndi Lee, the owner of Om Yoga near Union Square, which recently announced it would close its studio in late June, has an explanation for the seemingly greater enthusiasm for meditation among yoga students.

“The yoga community in New York City has matured,” Ms. Lee said. “I remember a time when we started with five minutes of meditation and a woman got annoyed and said: ‘I want to move. I want to sweat.’ Now they want to meditate.”

In August, Om Yoga introduced a meditation teacher-training program and has been running twice-weekly meditation classes. The Integral Yoga Institute, Jivamukti Yoga School and Pure Yoga, all in Manhattan, are among other centers reporting more students in their meditation classes.

At Ishta Yoga, Alan Finger, the founder and co-owner, said: “There’s a flood of more people wanting more meditation. I used to have about three classes a week — I stepped it up to five.” (A sixth is taught by Mr. Bartelle, alternating with Peter Ferko.)

Mr. Finger says that students often get a sense of what meditation is like by being in savasana, or corpse pose, at the end of a yoga class.

“At first, when people are in savasana, they may have a little snooze, but as they come and get more into it, they start to feel a different presence and say, ‘That was like meditation,’ and they start to explore more.”

Though most studios charge a fee for meditation classes that involve instruction, some, like the Jaya Yoga Center in Brooklyn, include meditation on their schedule simply to provide a time and space for people to come and sit, free.

“When people come in after a day of work or wake up in the morning, they are happy to shift their attention to something that’s a little more relaxing,” said Carla Stangenberg, who owns one of Jaya’s studios and co-owns the other. “Focusing on the breath and some phrases just calms you down, especially in New York City, where everything is just spinning around.”

A staff member keeps the time, and the rest is up to you and your breath. But why not just do it at home if you’re not getting guidance?

For many people, meditating in a group provides a deeper, more satisfying experience.

“Meditation is kind of like a dance class in that it’s better with other people,” said David Grotell, a student at my Ishta Yoga class. “There’s something about the energy. It would seem that if you’re not talking to people you’re not in contact, but you somehow feel close to others when you are meditating in a way that is not obvious.”

The heightened interest in meditation in yoga studios may be part of a larger movement toward the practice, which is clearly more mainstream than during the transcendental meditation craze of the 1970s.

When Sharon Salzberg, a meditation expert and teacher, began giving meditation workshops at Tibet House in the Flatiron district in 1999, about 30 people were in attendance. This winter, her class filled the room to its capacity, 135 people, with the overflow crowd finding space to sit on the floor.

“Meditation is no longer seen as fringe, esoteric and weird,” Ms. Salzberg said. “Its main association is now its link as a stress-reduction modality, and not just for coping, but also for flourishing.”

The Art of Living Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization, once offered a single meditation workshop a week at its office in Midtown; it now has four a week because of rising demand.

In addition to offering workshops at its Manhattan office, I Meditate NY, an initiative of the foundation, has teamed up with partners to offer meditation at various branches of the New York Public Library and at Whole Foods’ Wellness Club in TriBeCa. The next event, currently in its planning stages, is a meditation workshop in Central Park.

City College of New York is scheduled to begin a 10-week evening class next month called Introduction to the Organic Meditation Process. Part of CUNY’s Continuing and Professional Education Program, it will be open to those with and without meditation experience.

“Meditation helps you learn how to not be controlled by your emotions,” the teacher, Antonia Martinez, said. Or as Ms. Lee of Om Yoga put it, “People are realizing that meditation is a way to work with your mind, and the benefits are said to bring strength, stability and clarity.”

Alec Baldwin, Wife Hilaria Will Co-Chair Sackler’s Yoga Exhibit Gala

Jack Donaghy is coming to town. Alec Baldwin announced yesterday that he and his wife Hilaria will co-chair the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit gala this October.

The actor made the announcement in a tweet from hit foundation’s account, which is separate from his famously heated and active one. Allison Peck, the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s head of public affairs and marketing, confirmed the news to DCist.

The currently expecting Hilaria Baldwin is a yoga instructor. The second Mrs. Baldwin turned her husband on to yoga, which he credits for his significant weight loss. You can watch Baldwin talk about yoga and do some poses in the video below, which would make his “30 Rock” character cringe.


The exhibit is the Smithsonian’s second attempt at crowdfunding. Two weeks after the campaign’s launch, just over $21,000 of the $125,000 goal has been raised.

Sackler announced this week that Whole Foods will match up to $70,000 of money donated. The gallery is spreading the word about the campaign through social media and so-called yoga messengers. So far, 90 have signed up, according to Peck.

“Yoga: The Art of Transformation” opens Oct. 19.

Yogavibes Forms Partnership with Universal Yoga Founder Andrey Lappa

YogaVibes is honored to announce its partnership with Andrey Lappa, a highly accomplished and influential yoga teacher. Andrey is the founder of the system called Universal Yoga – a system which draws from the essential rules and principles of authentic, ancient yogic science and skillfully weaves them together with internal techniques, complemented by unusual asanas and vinyasas specifically aimed to target the spiritual development of the individual.

Andrey Lappa began studying yoga at the age of 14 while living behind the Iron Curtain. Originally from Ukraine, Andrey has been practicing yoga for well over 30 years, and teaching professionally since 1988. He was the first student to emerge from the post-Soviet area of the world to study with BKS Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Totally devoted to the yoga practice, Andrey traveled extensively seeking the guidance of other great teachers and masters.

Andrey’s Universal Yoga classes are designed to transmit the yogic concepts of control, balance, creativity, karmic freedom and ultimate liberation for all practitioners of this ancient science.

Why YogaVibes?

“YogaVibes has the potential to reach a very wide audience, and this is good. Yoga should not be about easy. Easy is never effective. Authentic Yoga is about practicing and challenging yourself in body and mind for a great benefit – that is True Sadhana (spiritual practice). YogaVibes will help introduce these ideas from Universal Yoga to an audience seeking control, balance, creativity and spiritual development. I hope these classes inspire practitioners to dive deeper into Universal Yoga, and maybe I will see them sometime in my USA travels.”

To dive deeper into this unique system, check out the first of many Universal Yoga classes with Andrey Lappa on YogaVibes;

Upper and Lower Body Bliss: Universal Yoga Class for Balance of Body Energy

This online yoga class introduces turns on the mat in the most basic format – the “T” shape sequence. It is beautifully balanced to move the shoulders, the hips and the spine in every range of mobility while creating simple turns. (88 mins.)

Visit Andrey Lappa on YogaVibes to experience more Universal Yoga online and to enjoy a free online yoga video discussing the fundamentals of the Universal Yoga practice.

About Andrey Lappa

Andrey Lappa is a recognized Lama (teacher) in the Karma Kagyu lineage, a Vajrayana practitioner, the president of the Kiev Yoga Federation, the author of Yoga: Tradition of Unification, and the author of many posters, DVDs and software programs. Learn more about Andrey Lappa and Universal Yoga at

About YogaVibes

Looking for the best online yoga classes? Look no further! is an online realm for high-quality, authentic yoga classes and instructional videos captured in a real studio with real students. YogaVibes offers a diverse selection of online yoga classes from the best yoga teachers in the world, making learning and living yoga easy in everyday life. YogaVibes’ mission: To create a supportive, challenging, and welcoming online community of passionate and inspiring yogis.

Yoga Icon Wai Lana Releases New Fun Songs Cartoons DVD for Kids

Known around the world for her vibrant, inspiring and fun yoga DVDs and CDs, Wai Lana has just released a brand new musical cartoon DVD for kids. Wai Lana’s Fun Songs Cartoons takes children on an animated adventure that features colourful cartoons, catchy songs and trips around the world — from the top of the Himalayas to fun-filled forests and amazing waterfalls.

Adorable Little Yogi characters captivate children’s and adults’ attention alike with silly antics and songs. With yoga-inspired songs like Balloon Belly, Tree and Rocking Beetle, kids watch and sing along to Wai Lana’s uplifting voice.

Many parents today find it’s a struggle to find the time to keep children engaged in wholesome activities. Wai Lana’s Fun Songs Cartoons provides fun-filled and inspiring entertainment that parents can feel good about.

Rachel Zouner is a mom of a 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son who says that Wai Lana’s Little Yogis DVD and CDs fill an important need in her family. “I find Wai Lana’s Fun Songs Cartoons is just perfect when we need to wind down, for long car rides, when one of the kids is sick or just any time. Recently, the kids got really antsy on a five hour car ride and I was so thankful I had Wai Lana’s DVD! It made all the difference between having a difficult trip and a fun one.”

Sheri Waterfield works in a day care and has also found Wai Lana’s Fun Songs Cartoons is perfect for helping keep kids happy and occupied, while relaxing and learning at the same time. “I was introduced to Wai Lana’s Little Yogis DVDs through a friend and I decided to try them out at our day care because — believe me — taking care of 15 pre-schoolers at once can be a real challenge! The first time I put on Wai Lana’s Fun Songs DVD the kids loved it. They ask for it all the time. I find it helps them to be more peaceful and calm and the other preschool teachers and I really enjoy it too.”

The newly-released Cartoon DVD is available on Wai Lana’s website,, which is full of valuable health & yoga tips, delicious recipes and Wai Lana’s yoga products for all ages.

Wai Lana has been inspiring people to enjoy the many wonderful benefits of yoga for over 20 years. Tirelessly dedicated to sharing the gift of yoga, she has produced award-winning yoga DVDs and videos for people of all levels, recorded popular yoga music CDs, published books and cookbooks and produced children’s yoga DVDs. She has also produced and hosted her popular Wai Lana Yoga TV series which has been viewed by millions of people around the world.


Lululemon shares fall after chief executive Christine Day steps down

When Lululemon Athletica Inc. announced yesterday that Chief Executive Officer Christine Day was leaving the company, investors bolted.

Day, 51, had been a Wall Street darling. Sales have tripled in the past three years and the shares had risen more than fivefold since June 27, 2008, the day before she became CEO of the Canadian yogawear juggernaut. And while her reputation took a hit earlier this year when the Vancouver-based company was forced to recall pants that became transparent when wearers bent over, her announced departure caught many analysts by surprise.

“It’s certainly shocking, it’s a stunning announcement in no uncertain terms,” Camilo Lyon, a New York-based analyst for Canaccord Genuity Corp., said yesterday in an interview. “It’s perception that’s going to drive the stock, and the perception is going to be that there’s really no one that’s driving the strategic vision on a day-to-day basis.”

The shares fell the most in 18 months.

Day, who will stay on until a replacement is found, is leaving at a time of mounting challenges for Lululemon. Nike Inc., Gap Inc. and Under Armour Inc., attracted by the premium prices women will pay for quality activewear, are all piling in. To keep growing, Day was moving the brand into running and golf apparel while opening stores in Europe and Asia.

Though Lululemon’s stores are among the most productive in retail, that isn’t sustainable as the chain expands, John Zolidis, an analyst at Buckingham Research Group in New York, said in a note to clients yesterday. What’s more, the company may have to cut prices as competition increases or fashions change, he said.

Personal Decision

“This was a personal decision of mine,” Day said on a conference call after the company reported earnings. “It’s never the perfect

time to leave a company you love.”

“The timing’s right to bring in a new person to lead,” she also said.

Lululemon was founded by entrepreneur Chip Wilson in 1998 after he took a yoga class and found clothing then available wasn’t ideal for yoga.

With a canny blend of fashion and lifestyle marketing — along with offering free yoga classes, it spotlights local “ambassadors” who “embody the Lululemon lifestyle” — the retailer has built a cult-like following since moving into the U.S. in 2003.

Day joined Lululemon in January 2008 as executive vice president of retail operations after 20 years at Starbucks Corp., where latterly she led the coffee chain’s Asia operations.

When Day took charge, Lululemon had 87 stores worldwide. Today, with the chain pushing into Asia and Europe, it has 218. In 2009, the brand started an online store. In the first quarter, Lululemon generated 15.6 percent of sales on the Web, an increase of 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Bikram Yoga

Along the way she won a reputation for delegating authority to the leaders on her team, encouraging collaboration and creativity from design to merchandising.

Then trouble hit with the see-through pants debacle. Lululemon in March said it was recalling certain shipments of black Luon pants, which accounted for about 17 percent of all women’s pants it sells, and cut its sales forecast for its fiscal first quarter.

Two weeks later, the company announced that Chief Product Officer Sheree Waterson would be stepping down. Lululemon said that while the defective pants had met its testing standards, those protocols were incomplete and didn’t adequately examine all the variables in the fabric’s characteristics.

As the company phases the pants back in and implements the new quality controls, some analysts suggest the error may have been the product of zealous growth that is ultimately unsustainable. Zolidis wrote in a note that the company’s execution problem showed the company has strained its infrastructure as it accelerated growth.

“Over time, we expect sales growth to slow and operating margins to contract due to factors including maturation in Canada, pressure from new stores in the U.S., and increased competition,” wrote Zolidis, who has the equivalent of a sell rating on the shares. “Longer-term, fashion and entry into international markets are also risks.”

Lululemon said comparable-store sales increased 7 percent in the first quarter and forecast same-store sales would grow 5 percent to 7 percent in the second quarter, citing the “soft launch” of black Luon pants into stores and online. That growth compares to a 15 percent gain in the second quarter a year ago. Comparable-store sales in Canada were “somewhat negative” this quarter, Chief Financial Officer John Currie said on the call.

Spring Styles

Currie also said some spring styles didn’t sell as well as expected, forcing Lululemon to mark down about 15 percent of its product

compared with its usual 10 percent to 12 percent.

Lululemon said yesterday that net income for the quarter ended May 5 rose 1.4 percent to $47.3 million, or 32 cents a share, from $46.6 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier, the company said in the statement. Analysts projected 30 cents, the average of 25 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 21 percent to $345.8 million.

Lululemon is preparing to open stores in London next year and add showrooms in China, Day said on the conference call. The company has already introduced showrooms in Germany and Singapore to test the markets as it focuses on Europe and Asia.

Tennis Apparel

At the same time, Lululemon is adding apparel for new sports to its stores, introducing golf and tennis this spring. Day said the new lines have received “terrific” feedback, with polo shirts selling out online in less than 48 hours.

Lululemon’s attempts to diversify come amid rising competition. Gap’s Athleta is borrowing from its rival’s playbook, hooking up with local yoga instructors and has sponsored classes such as Mommy & Me Yoga. Like Lululemon, Athleta has trained staff to make garment recommendations tailored to customers’ pursuits — a half-marathon, say, or paddle boarding.

Although Athleta is much smaller than Lululemon, with a total 35 stores as of Feb. 2, Gap plans to add 30 locations in 2013, Gap Chief Executive Officer Glenn Murphy said in February. The stores are often located near Lululemon locations and offer similar products, often at a lower price.

Under Armour

Under Armour also is looking for a larger piece of the women’s activewear market. In February, it opened a test store in Baltimore to appeal more directly to women, adding natural light and softer colors. Like Lululemon, Under Armour is advertising the apparel as sport- and street-appropriate. The company plans to open a second location this year.

The shares fell 16 percent to $69.51 at 9:50 a.m. in New York after sliding as low as $69.25 for the biggest intraday decline since December 2011. The shares had gained 7.9 percent this year through the close yesterday, compared with a 15 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

“Ms. Day’s departure, along with the recent departure of the chief product officer, continues to bring a new level of uncertainty to the LULU story,” Howard Tubin, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in New York, wrote in a note to clients.

Investing the Downward Dog Way? Adviser Suggests Deep Breaths

When the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a new record this past March, Brent Kessel awoke at 3:30 a.m.

But the financial adviser, who co-founded a firm that manages more than $800 million, wasn’t up early because he was giddy about the market. He was hopping on a motor scooter in Mysore, India, to stand on one leg with the other leg behind his head and chant in Sanskrit at the school where a branch of modern yoga has its origins.

Mr. Kessel, who devoted himself to responding to emails from his clients and colleagues later that day, shrugs off the bull market.

“Everything is impermanent, especially the market’s level,” says Mr. Kessel, whose firm is Abacus Wealth Partners in Santa Monica, Calif.

Spencer Sherman, Abacus’s other founder, teaches his clients a breathing technique called “the Money Breath,” to get through tough financial situations: clients typically inhale for three counts, hold the breath for one count, and exhale for six counts.

Non-clients can buy “the Money and Spirit Workshop” home study course from the duo, available for $66.97 on a website that sells New Age products.

Some clients come to the firm through its advertisements in Yoga Journal, which in its April 2001 issue featured a bare-chested Mr. Kessel on the cover balancing on his hands with his legs tucked behind his arms in a perfectly executed “crow” pose.

“I think the very common reaction, even 15 years ago, would have been, ‘These guys are California quack jobs,'” says Mr. Kessel. “But if you actually came in and were a client, you’d find that we’re much more disciplined than a lot of the firms out there.”

He is one of a breed of financial advisers who are taking yoga and meditation out of the ashram and putting them into Excel spreadsheets. The values and teachings of these Eastern-inspired traditions, proponents say, impart a special kind of financial wisdom that, among other benefits, allows them to stay calm in crises and make holistic financial plans for clients.

George Kinder, a certified financial planner and Buddhist teacher who spends his time in Maui, Hawaii, London and Littleton, Mass., is widely considered the guru of this financial “mindfulness” movement, which has guided financial advisers seeking to add a spiritual element to their practices.

Mr. Kinder’s 1999 book, “The Seven Stages of Money Maturity,” applies ancient Buddhist principles known as the Six Perfections, which include patience and generosity, to contemporary money management, among other things. Mr. Kinder later developed “financial life planner” training, which teaches advisers to focus on the client’s life goals and use empathic listening skills when working with them.

The tradition is older than it might appear. The integration of yoga and money is seen in Eastern history, says Mark Singleton, who wrote his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Cambridge on the history of modern yoga.

While many ancient yogis renounced material possessions, others used yoga to gain money and influence. “They were the power brokers of medieval India because of these powers you can accumulate by doing yoga,” says Mr. Singleton.

The number of planners who have gone through at least one of Mr. Kinder’s programs, which always include a group meditation, has more than doubled in the past five years to more than 2,000, he says. So far, 307 have obtained the top “Registered Life Planner” designation, up from about 100 five years ago.

“People leave our training exhilarated,” says Mr. Kinder. “That’s very similar to a very deep yoga or meditative retreat. You go so deep inside yourself you’re sparkling.”

Messrs. Kessel and Sherman use a Kinder-influenced financial-planning approach at Abacus, and say they buy stocks and bonds based on research instead of “emotions and hot tips.” They typically prefer passive index funds to actively managed ones, and unlike panicked investors who fled equities during the financial crisis, they say they bought stocks the day the market hit its bottom in 2009, a move the firm attributes to disciplined rebalancing.

Jeff Bogart, like Messrs. Kessel and Sherman a Kinder disciple, launched Yogic Investing, a yoga-inspired branch of his Cleveland-area financial-advisory firm last year. “George Kinder’s stuff is groundbreaking and fascinating. Sometimes it makes me aware if people are stuck in the root chakra with their money issues,” says Mr. Bogart. The root chakra, an energy point located at the base of the spine, is associated with primitive survival needs, he says.

Those interested fill out a brief questionnaire online to “find out if you are a yogic investor!” He presented a workshop on yoga and money at the Finger Lakes Yoga Festival in New York state last summer.

Some financial advisers revel in yoga’s revelations.

While standing on one leg and attempting to lift his other leg perpendicular to the ground, Rick Salmeron, a certified financial planner who is president of Salmeron Financial in Dallas and who practices Bikram yoga, a type of yoga traditionally practiced in 105-degree heat, says, “I’m thinking of my clients who can’t help but be attracted to Apple at $600 a share or oil at $140 a barrel.”

Mr. Salmeron recently considered holding a Bikram class for his clients, though only a fraction of them are regular yoga practitioners. “Investing is very emotional. Yoga keeps it all balanced,” he says.

He recommends Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana, a pose in which he stands with legs spread wide and grabs his feet in an effort to pull his head to the floor. “It gives my brain a tourniquet effect. It clears out a lot of the dead brain cells,” Mr. Salmeron says.

Other advisers try to be discreet about the New Age influence on their work. Nicholas Lee of Worcester, England, who trained with Mr. Kinder, meditates and faithfully uses a notepad with “Breathe in” printed on top of the pages and “Breathe out” at the bottom.

Still, he says, “you can’t put a sign outside your office that says, ‘Hello, I’m a financial life planner. I do yoga and meditation.’ I’m always a little bit cautious talking about it. You can very quickly appear flaky.”

Source: Wall Street Journal

Top 10 Ways to Deal with Sweat During Yoga

Girls don’t sweat, we glisten!”

It was the last thing I wanted to hear after a particularly humid class. Carefully grasping my friend’s slightly dewy hand with my immaculately pruned fingers, I peered deeply into her eyes through the slowly evaporating fog of my glasses.

Men don’t sweat, I gently replied. We marinate.

I then proceeded to wring my shirt out on her foot. It was very gratifying, and I truly felt one step closer to samhadi (feeling one with the world). I was younger then.

Sweating is awesome. The physical practice of yoga is designed to purify the body through a series of folds, twists, stretches, and balances. As the body moves, the muscles and organs release toxins. One of the main escape routes for these toxins is through sweat. The more toxic the body, there better chance you’ll get your sweat on. If you’re a meat-eatin’/ beer-drinkin’/ cigar-chompin’ yogi, your body might have a little more to work out than others.

Combine the fact that you’re wringing out your insides with the accumulation of heat from other bodies in a poorly-ventilated room, throw in a dash of genetic predisposition, and we have a prime candidate for rapid perspiration. It often isn’t pretty, especially if you’re one of those glisteners.

Sweating is a double-edged sword. We want to sweat because we feel the benefit of the practice. We don’t want the sweat because we’re vain. We do want the sweat because it’s healthy. We don’t want the sweat because nobody likes carrying home a soaked yoga mat (sponge) or a sopping wet shirt clinging to body hair.

At least I think nobody does….

What To Do?

1) Don’t panic. You aren’t the first yogi to sweat profusely, you won’t be the last, and it’s safe to say you probably aren’t the worst. If you freak out, you’ll probably just sweat more. The most important thing to remember is that it is perfectly OK to sweat during yoga. Don’t let it stop you.

2) Wear proper clothing. The long/short here is to find what works for you. Light, loose-fitting clothing that allows the skin to breathe will be the best. If you go cotton, expect that cotton to soak up sweat. If you wear sports gear, that gear will become very smelly. Avoid business suits, denim jeans, wool anything, and polyester everything. If it’s appropriate, consider not wearing a shirt. There, I said it. You don’t have to be the first guy to run into the studio bare-chested and ready to kick asana. If you’re cool with it, give it a try.

3) Bring a towel. This is a no-brainer. Don’t assume the studio is going to provide one. If the teacher gives adjustments, bring a separate towel just for them. You feel less self-conscious about receiving and they’ll be more inclined to give.

4) Yogitoes! Purchasing my first Skidless yoga towel literally changed my life. Before, every class was a dangerous mix of Twister and Slip-n-Slide. Essentially, it’s a thin beach towel with silicone nubs on one side that grip into the yoga mat. What really got me was that it doesn’t really start working until it gets moist. Most people like to pre-wet theirs before class. I prime mine with a stern glare and lascivious smile.

5) Flip your mat over. Drat…yoga soup again! Wait for the right time, quietly step off of your mat, flip it over, and then drop back into the class. Don’t make a big deal about it. Just do it. There, isn’t that better? Your hands don’t hate you anymore.

6) Grab a yoga strap. It’s looking pretty grim. You’ve forgotten your towel. Your shirt is completely soaked through. The mat has already been flipped to no avail! Your hands are squirking around like two angry oil wrestlers. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Grab a yoga strap and lay it across the top of your mat, running a few inches parallel to the front edge. When in downward dog, place the base of your palms below the strap, and the knuckles above it. It ain’t fancy, but it will definitely save your sweaty asana.

7) Clean up after yourself! If you really want to be that guy, I suggest leaving a few puddles on the floor after class. Bonus points if you don’t hang or wipe down a borrowed mat. Soon enough, you’ll be getting noticed for all the wrong reasons. Proper studio etiquette prevails here. They don’t swim in your pool, so… don’t sweat… on their mat. Yeah.

8) Use your own equipment. The idea of rolling around in sweat can be a little unsettling—especially if it’s not yours. Using your own mat has many benefits, ranging from hygiene to function. Most loaner mats get slick after a few drops—go buy yourself a fancy non-slip magic carpet (see #4), and see how your practice benefits..

9) Keep practicing and eventually it won’t matter. So what if you sweat profusely? Big deal. Yoga isn’t about how you look; it’s about how you feel. These tips should help you feel a lot better once the heat rises and the sweat starts to fall. Whether your body eventually sweats less or you end up getting used to that perpetual shine, the most important thing to remember is to keep going. A little sweat can go a long way.

Stand-up paddleboard yoga in the Cook Islands

RELAX with a week-long retreat to the Cook Islands with prices starting at $1999, inclusive of flights, resort accommodation and a chance to do yoga on the water.

1 Retreat to Rarotonga

LOOKING for a holiday with a difference this winter?

Stand-up paddle-board yoga instructor Charlotte Piho is hosting three retreats in the Cook Islands over the coming months.

The week-long retreats will start on July 20, August 17 and September 7.

Prices start from $1999 a person, quad share, including flights from Sydney for bookings before June 30. The deal includes your stay at The Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa, daily breakfast and lunch, three dinners and airport transfers. Twin share rooms are available at an extra cost.Ph 1300 370 792 or see

2 Forte is luxury

A LUXURY resort will open at a restored fort in India this year.

Boutique Asian hotelier Alila Hotels and Resorts will open Alila Fort Bishangarh, about an hour from Jaipur in Rajasthan, and three hours from New Delhi.

The 230-year-old fort is perched on a granite hill with 2m-thick ancient walls that have openings for firearms and turrets.

Once restored, it will have 59 suites with large bay windows, day beds and footed bathtubs, a pool, two restaurants, a bar and cigar room and wine cellar.


3 Old-school sailing

THE tall ship Lord Nelson arrives in Australia this year on a round-the-world voyage. Trips are available between Fremantle, Hobart, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and New Zealand.

No sailing experience is needed.

Prices start at $1770 for eight days from Adelaide to Melbourne in August.

Ph 1800 331 582 or see

4 Join the club

JETSTAR has launched its Club Jetstar membership program offering exclusive sales and discounts, with flights from $1.

It costs $39 to join, plus an annual fee of $39.99 after the first year. Jetstar chief commercial officer David Koczkar says more offers will be introduced as the program grows. The club is in addition to the airline’s JetMail weekly email offers.


5 Christmas comes early

SEVERAL Blue Mountains hotels are offering packages to celebrate Christmas in the colder months.

Mountain Heritage Hotel and Spa Retreat at Katoomba has a Saturday night package, from June 30-July 28, priced from $299 a person that includes pre-dinner drinks, five-course dinner, Christmas songs and a cabaret show. Two-night packages are also available.

Redleaf Resort at Blackheath and Fairmont Resort at Leura are also offering packages.


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Help Promote The Smithsonian’s Yoga Art Exhibit

Yoga lovers – Yoga: the Art of Transformation is coming this Fall to the Smithsonian! Read on to learn how you can help promote this unique event ….

From a Smithsonian Press Release:“The Art of Transformation,” on view through Jan. 26, 2014, explores yoga’s philosophies and its goals of transforming body and consciousness, its importance within multiple religious and secular arenas, and the varied roles that yogis played in society, from sages to spies.

To support the exhibition, the museum is launching the Smithsonian’s first major crowdfunding campaign May 29. “Together We’re One” will run through July 1, raising funds for exhibition production, Web content, catalog printing and free public programs for adults and families. Beginning late May, supporters can learn more, donate and download campaign materials—including e-cards and desktop and smartphone backgrounds—at or by contacting

Check out more art from Yoga:The Art of Transformation.