8 Lessons My Yoga Practice Has Taught Me About Running A Business
Any yogi will tell you that yoga is not just about what happens on your mat, but about what you take away from it. While starting a business might not have the same physical challenges as yoga, I’ve found there to be several mental mantras that parallel perfectly with starting a business.
These are pretty juicy so let’s dive right in.
- Showing Up Is The Hardest Part
I’m tempted to say this is actually the single biggest challenge, and possibly the biggest reason why most businesses aren’t successful, or for that matter, ever even started.
When it comes to yoga, one excuse that we often tell ourselves is that “if we just had more time we’d be able to go”. Sometimes life gets in the way. You get busy or you can’t find the time. Or your alarm goes off in the morning and you have to pull yourself out of bed. Whatever the mental or physical roadblock is that’s standing in between you and your mat. However, once you make it there you’ve already won the biggest battle.
The same is true when it comes to starting a business. In the beginning, sometimes there’s no money. Quite literally you have to show up and put in the hours for no immediate reward, and that can be a tough pill to swallow. Or you could be taking on any project that comes your way even if the client is less than ideal and doesn’t value you. Whatever it is that’s creating a mental or physical roadblock between you and your dream. Sometimes just finding the strength to open up your computer, or if you’re working another job, waking up extra early or staying up extra late to make the time, is the real battle. But if you show up and keep showing up, you will see the results.
- Root To Rise
In yoga, almost every pose starts in the feet. In your foundation. There are days when you come to your mat and you’re fearless. You try something new. You nail that bind, fly that inversion, or float in that handstand. Your foundation is strong. You are grounded. And then there are the days when you can’t even balance on your own 2 feet.
Regardless of how you’re feeling that day, almost every challenge comes back to your foundation. The same is true for business. The trick is knowing when it’s time to take a risk and try something new, or when it’s time to ground down and examine your foundation for cracks.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Both on your yoga mat and in business, if you’re not asking for help, you’re not growing.
As women especially, we’re programmed to be the caretakers and not the cared for. This instinct can often work against us when it comes to starting businesses as well. We don’t want to have to be taken care of, but the truth, especially as first-time business owners, is that we need all the help we can get.
- No Excuses
Everyone has their shit. You can make excuses for yourself or you can work it out.
In yoga, it’s easy to compare someone else’s strength to your weakness. Sally over there just did every freaking arm balance in the book, and you can barely do one chaturanga, but that doesn’t mean Sally is better than you. You can make up the excuse that you’re not good at arm balances, or that your not strong like Sally, or you can know that arm balances are not your greatest strength and focus on your own strengths.
As a business owner, you can make excuses for your weaknesses, and tell yourself you’ll never be successful, or as good as your competition. Or you can recognize those weaknesses within yourself and your business, and work to build a team that’s made up of many strengths. Luckily when it comes to business you don’t have to always rely on yourself, you can hire help or outsource your biggest weaknesses.
One of my favorite concepts in both yoga and business is to approach things with an open and radiant heart. A radiant heart is one that is open to new opportunities and lets its light shine out.
I saw a quote the other day that I believe to best explain this concept of a radiant heart.
“The only things we can control is our attitude and our effort”.
In my experience, what you put out into the universe, the universe will give back to you tenfold. Come from a place of abundance and it’s what you shall receive. Put out an attitude of scarcity, and ‘woah is me’ and that’s what you will have.
In business, and in yoga, you can approach each new challenge with a radiant heart, open to new opportunities and new chances for growth. Or you can be closed off and negative, but your attitude and your effort are always up to you.
Your body is different every day. That’s why yoga is a daily practice. For best results keep showing up.
If every day was successful and easy we’d all be bored to tears. The challenges we face, or overcoming them rather, are what give us fulfillment.
Show up every day, and watch yourself grow.
The power is in persistence.
- Take It To Your Edge.
Challenge yourself every day. Whatever that looks like for you. This may be different than your neighbor in class or your competitors in business.
Focus on your practice and your business. Comparison is a sure fire way to fail.
Let’s go back to Sally, the arm balance queen. If we compare our practice to hers, we’re on a one-way train to insecurity town. However, if we focus on our own practice and taking our self to our own edge every day, we’re soon to be arm balance queens ourselves, or even better, the queens of something else. Something that is authentically true to ourselves.
- Make Time* To Celebrate And To Rest
Any yogi will tell you how important that final rest, that savasana is. It’s the time that you set aside to thank yourself for the hard work you’ve done.
Similarly, any great business owner will tell you the importance of thanking and appreciating their employees. That gratification is what we work for, so celebrate each victory. Let yourself feel proud, accomplished, and strong when you’ve reached a goal or made it to the end of class. Letting that victory and that good feeling sink into your body so that the next time you’re faced with a challenge you can remember that feeling of victory that you’re chasing. If you don’t make time to celebrate your wins, you’re going to burn out, and you’re going to forget why you’re even doing it in the first place.
*Notice I said, “make time”. Don’t answer emails after 5 o’clock or go out for celebratory lunch or happy hour with your team, whatever it looks like for you, but make it a priority.