9 Ways that Yoga WILL Help you be a Better Leader
There is a lot of myth busting that is required when it comes to Yoga. Some think it’s for hippies or only for very-flexible 20-something young girls. Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you (why would it?) that this thing – this exercise, practise …or whatever you’d like to call your time ‘on the mat’ can help you in so many ways, not least being a better business woman or man, and frankly – a better Leader.
Yoga as an exercise was first introduced into the US in the 1940’s when an Indian Swami taught a bunch of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe a few poses. Gaining serious momentum in the early 2000’s, it has now spread around the world and a much larger portion of the population, male and female incorporate some sort of Yoga exercise into their weekly schedule, enjoying the tremendous physical and mental benefits that come with it.
My own experience with Yoga has been an unexpected yet interesting one. I was living in London, very focused on travel, driving a busy social life AND career, working in a high pressured, stress-is-normal type of job. I didn’t love the gym, but I knew I needed to at least try to be fit and keep myself healthy. And a few hours in the gym were a necessity to start to offset some of the many hours at the pub, so off to gym I would go. I most probably chose what appeared to me as the ‘easy option’ when I opted to try a Yoga class and while I wouldn’t say that I loved it (took a while for that) it quickly became something that I depended on and enjoyed. Now, it is an essential part of balancing out business, leadership and people management challenges, family and relationships…. Well basically all the stress and stuff we deal with in our busy daily lives.
But what is the link to Business and Leadership and how might it be a good investment of your time? Here is a list of the ways that Yoga can help you be a better Leader.
- Yoga will remind you to be humble. You are good at what you do and probably operating at a high level of Unconscious Competence. In every single Yoga class, you will be faced with (at least) one position that you find challenging, as well as those you find easier. Yoga will remind you what it’s like to be a beginner again.
- Yoga will make you feel and look a bit silly. Yoga will put you back outside your comfort zone, unlike in the workplace where there may not be many things that ‘catch you by surprise’ any more. Yoga will remind you to laugh at yourself, when you have no idea what you are doing, and will remind you what it’s maybe like for someone on their first day in a new job.
- Yoga will remind you what you already know – that everyone is different. In Yoga you everyone faces physical differences (bones + muscle make-up) plus a different exercise history. Fit, injured, small, large, flexible, inflexible – all which will challenge and limit your physical capabilities and mental belief systems. This will change the way you look at your team and the next time someone doesn’t do something you want, you may become interested to know a bit more about what they are ‘bringing with them into the room’.
- Yoga will remind you that everyone receives information differently. In a Yoga class everyone in the room hears the same instructions from the same person, but people still end up facing different directions and different version of the position. At first you might find yourself annoyed but after a while you’ll get to know the teacher, and you will know what they mean, even when he/she is having a bad day. Then you might start to wonder how much of this is about you and how much is about them, and maybe you’ll ponder how well you explain your own instructions and whether everyone is ‘facing the right way’.
- Yoga will show you how a group of people can come together regularly, but still aren’t a team. In Yoga, a group of people gather together for a common purpose, exchange pleasantries, but operate as individuals with different goals. Yoga will make you question what’s happening in your workplace and whether you have a team or a bunch of regular acquaintances.
- Yoga will make you more aware of yourself and your triggers. In a 60 minute class you’ll feel annoyed, frustrated, even angry but also satisfied, proud and pleased. After a while you’ll start to smile and understand the when and the why and you might top blaming the teacher ☺. And we all know that good self awareness is a big challenge to being a good leader.
- Yoga will remind you that no-one likes a show off. In every yoga class you’ll see one… someone who feels to you like they are showing off. And you’ll ponder the difference between being inspiring, leading by example and showing off.
- Yoga will hone your concentration skills and remind you how important it is to focus on one thing at a time. In yoga, you simply can’t try to do too many things at once because ultimately if you don’t concentrate – you fall over.
- Yoga will help you clear your thoughts and offer you clarity about what’s important. Concentrating on listening, doing and not falling over means that your subconscious ticks away ‘solving things’ which will leave you feeling more decisive and energetic. Great leaders make good decisions and have loads of energy. Even when they are sweating outside their comfort zone ☺