Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies the unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world, and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in well-being. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.
— said Mr. Narendra Modi in the UN General Assembly and proposed that the 21st of June be celebrated as the International Yoga Day. By doing so, he intended to improve global wellbeing.
While the physical and mental benefits of Yoga are well documented, today on the occasion of the 4th International Yoga Day, I want to bring about the aspects of career wellbeing that Yoga can teach you.
So, here are some of the most practical and powerful lessons you can learn from Yoga –
#1-Begin with an intention
Yoga is all about living intentionally.
Every session of Yoga starts and ends with intention. For every session, a good facilitator will start by asking you to pause and set an intention for the practice. You would struggle in the beginning, but over time; you will get clear about your intentions of doing the practice.
The same needs to be done with our careers too.
As a career coach I have a common question to ask everyone–Where ever you are in your career, are you because of the choice you made?
If you pause and reflect on this, the answer is largely a NO. Neither did you choose your first job, nor did you work with your current organization because you wanted to. It was the organization that chose you!
Today is a wonderful day to pause and think–where are you heading? Is this what you really, really want? If not, then set your intentions before moving forward.
#2-Come to terms with your limitations
When you begin the practice of Yoga, it will not be easy. Even the simple poses will seem to be difficult when you are just starting off. After the first session, you may have pain in various parts of your body.
The key to being able to master the practice is to understand your limitations and work on them. You need to be aware of the way your body responds. Then give a slight push every time until you have been able to do it.
At the workplace too, you need to be aware of your own limitations. You need to know what is that you can do, and what you cannot. Take the lead in the things you are comfortable doing, to begin with. Then push yourself a bit every time to learn and master the things you cannot.
Also, before you work on any project, first think of the limitations a.k.a. the constraints. Then work on it, keeping these constraints in mind. That way you will do the right and not the perfect!
#3-Strive for self-improvement than trying to beat others
Taking a step ahead to attempt a deeper understanding of point # 2; it also reveals that Yoga is not about competition. It is natural to see others and think ‘if s/he can, why can’t I’ and wanting to do more. You push yourself beyond what you can do. And then the next day take a day off. A day becomes two and you don’t feel like doing it and eventually give it up altogether.
To get the best out of Yoga, it is crucial to focus on yourself. Listen to your body. Talk to your mind. And strive to be better than your own self instead of trying to beat others.
When you compete in the workplace, the scenario is more or less the same. However healthy be the competition, it will turn nasty at some point in time. Eventually, you will achieve nothing. Competition to me seems to be analogous to wrestling with a pig–it is you who gets dirty and the pig enjoys it! So there is no point competing. Like Yoga, strive for self-improvement than trying to beat others even at the workplace. And see the world around you change!
#4-Self-Awareness is the virtue that makes brilliant things happen
Yoga helps to achieve a state of awareness that gives clarity and sharpness of mind, and calmness and joy. Yoga is all about awareness. The regular practice of Yoga helps you be cognizant of yourself–your body, your mind, and your soul. You get into a state of bliss by the virtue of being self-aware.
Usually, when you are unhappy with your career, you look outside. You hunt for greener pastures to graze on. Where does it lead you? When you have landed into a so-called greener pasture, in no time you realize that it isn’t as green as it seemed to be from a distance. If you are not happy doing what you are doing, it is best to focus inward. Ask yourself–why are you unhappy? What will make you happy? When you focus inward, you will get the right answers to the questions that are bothering you. And when you have the right answers, it binds you to make the right decisions for yourself!
#5-Often, it always pays to be quiet and listen!
Unless you are doing the practice of Yoga on your own, you are listening to the instructions. The practice of Yoga thus makes you a better listener. Anne Lamott, an American novelist and non-fiction writer once said, “Rule 1: When all else fails, follow instructions.”
If you are someone who loves to talk more than listen–pause and reflect–what has it helped you achieve? If you are someone who goes to the office to finish your work and come back (and not bothered about what is happening around you)–pause and reflect–what has it helped you achieve? In both cases, the answer mostly is bound to be–nothing! So, stop racing your mind to think of what you want to say next. Instead, focus on the person and listen. It always pays (and speeds up your career) to be quiet and listen.
#6-Fall in love with what you do
Things may look difficult when you begin, but to appreciate all the benefits of Yoga, you need to love it. It has to be your everyday regime, and that needs a lot of passion and drive to do it.
Similarly, to make the most out of your career, you need to be loving it. Whatever you do at the workplace, you will do it for a major part of your life and for 5 or more days a week. So be passionate. It will fuel you up and help you get the desired growth.
Also, on a different note, if you don’t want to love what you do, do what you love!
#7-‘Instant results’ is an oxymoron
You can master Yoga with practice. It takes the right intention, effort, and commitment to do so.
In the era of social media, today we get instant likes. So the expectation is that the same happens in actual life too. But the reality is far from that. Like Yoga, career also takes the right intention, planning, and effort in the right direction. There are no shortcuts. Thus, expecting instant results is insanity.
#8-Ask and the world would be ready to help
When you are trying hard, but not able to get there; don’t sweat. Instead, ask for help and people will be more than glad to help when approached.
At the workplace too, it is pointless to waste your time trying to figure things all by yourself. Ask and you notice that the world would be eager to help. If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go together.
#9-Be mindful to focus on the impact
Every yoga session usually ends with Shavasana to do away with the tiredness caused by other asanas. The other intent is also to promote calmness of the mind, so you become more mindful and have a better focus.
It is normal to focus on the efforts in your career. But if efforts could give the desired career growth, the workers on the streets would have been the CEOs earning hefty salaries. You need to realize that it is not the efforts you take but the impact you create because of the effort that matters. So it is imperative to calm your mind. Be mindful to focus on the impact you are creating to get ahead.
I wish you grand career breakthroughs on the occasion of the International Yoga Day!