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What My Yoga Practice Has Taught Me About Business

06/26/2016 03:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2016

This may sound a little surprising, but yoga and business have a lot in common. Yoga teaches us about depth and focus. But as I've yoga can also provide valuable lessons about how to successfully run a business. And not just in regards to emotional IQ. Here are some of the top lessons that I've brought to how I do business from my practice.

Make Self-Care a Priority
Running a prosperous business is impossible if you feel down or exhausted. Similarly, a bad mood isn't good either. If you want your business to thrive, you need to thrive. Yoga teaches you to care for yourself because it is a practice that you do for 'yourself'. You may have noticed that a lot of times you don't feel like doing yoga, but when you do it, you're invariably happy you made that choice. When running a business, always remember to take care of yourself because if you don't then your business will suffer as well.

Don't Look at Everyone as your Competition
Everyone in your yoga class has their own yoga practice. There is no point is looking at what others are doing because every pose they do is to bring peace to their mind, not yours. Just because one finds peace in a certain place in a given pose doesn't mean that you will too. Business is the same; don't try to do something your competitor is doing. You should do things that make you happy because that is the true path to success!

Set a Certain Goal or Intention
In yoga, we set an intention for our practice. And obviously a business cannot be established without having an intention. Think about your mission, how you want your customers to feel, and what you'd like to accomplish. Have clear answers to all these questions and make sure to communicate that with your partners, clients and the world using social media, as that's a true message that will resonate.

Find Balance
In yoga, it is important to find balance between challenges, play and restoration. The same goes for business. All work and no play will not get you anywhere as after a while you will start hating your own business. Obviously, this is the last thing you want to feel where a business is concerned. Don't forget to give your employees flexibility in this same way, as happy and well balanced employees produce better results.

Trust your Gut when it comes to Making Decisions
In yoga, you make your own decisions by going with your gut feeling with each pose and the stress you decide to put your body under for each. You should do the same in business as your body is the best advisor when it comes to making decisions. Not sure about whether you should get into a contract with that client? Listen to your body and figure out what it is telling you to do. The answer is often crystal clear with a little silence.

Take a Deep Breath
One of the most important aspects of a yoga practice is your breathing habits. As Apple recently acknowledged with the addition of the Breathe app, even they are promoting deep breathing. In business, pretty big decisions can be made in less time than it takes to take a deep breath. One of the things I consistently have to learn the hard way is to take a deep breath, or even a few hours, to make a decision. Trust your gut, yes. But that isn't to say that you shouldn't think through each issue that arises as thoroughly as required.

Be Real
Being phony and yoga are incompatible. Yoga demands you to be as real as you can be, and that lesson is very important for business. If you aren't authentic in the business world, people will eventually notice that and that will reduce your ability to impart change, making you less effective and negatively impacting your business.

Be Patient
Patience is a virtue. We hear all the things about patience and try to be mindful and not rush around in life. But it's more challenging than you might think. Most can't do a tripod or side crow in their first yoga class. Daily meditations and practice help to keep you mindful and keep your expectations in check. Because matching expectations and needs with timing are the key to properly planning the future of your businesses.

Innovate the Things
Innovation is necessary in todays changing business climate. Yoga is about training your body to consistently do the poses that have been handed down to us through history. But it's also about coming up with new techniques to help you get grounded. This might be throwing a little changeup into a Sun Salutation or it might be introducing a new option or feature for customers that surprises and delights existing customers and makes it easier to source new customers.

Push Your Limits
You need patience, but you also need to push your limits where appropriate. In yoga, this means stretching a certain muscle just a little bit more each session, getting better at a pose, getting straighter, deepening a stance. In business, this means going after a slightly larger customer, creating stretch goals, and striving to always be better.

Empathize with Others
Leadership in yoga is instructing. And when you're instructing it's important to look around the room and be cognizant of where each person is at in their practice, and inspire your students to keep getting better. Provide gentle reminders to stay within limits, not constantly look around and push harder because the person next to you is better at a certain pose than others, and be willing to change out the plan based on the students in the room. In business, a critical aspect of leadership is to look around your organization and push the boundaries, but not so far that you instill a sense of fear or overwhelm those around you.

And here's a bonus lesson! Keep going. Perseverance. Patience is one thing, but the ability to keep going, week after week and year after year, to inspire consistently rather than in fits and spurts, and survive the lulls that invariably come over time, that is perseverance. And that is what keeps you going through the good times and the bad.

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