Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. It remains a popular activity among advocates who have been drawn to the many health benefits it brings. Doing yoga may help reduce stress, address anxiety, reduce the risk of depression, and improve moods. It also allows the body to limber up, increases immunity and pain tolerance, and helps with weight reduction.
These mental and physical benefits can lead you to a better life. Not only does it enhance self-confidence but yoga also helps you connect with, influence, and motivate others. Let’s examine the lesser-known but important benefits of doing yoga for potential leaders.
Yoga Towards Becoming a Better Leader
Whether you are a corporate executive or the chairperson of a non-profit organization, it matters a lot to adopt the mindset and acquire the skills of a leader. Leadership is not all about position. For leaders like Julia Keleher, it involves building relationships, embracing every obstacle as a learning experience, making critical decisions, and becoming an inspiration to others.
For this reason, yoga and leadership are perfect together because yoga teaches discipline, clear-mindedness, and communication. Let’s take a closer look at how yoga shapes you into an effective leader:
1. Yoga enhances your problem-solving skills
Because yoga promotes better well-being, it can help you attain greater clarity, allowing you to view an issue or problem from different angles. Stress keeps us from thinking clearly, so doing yoga helps us become more aware of how we respond to any situation, including a complex problem. More than that, yoga enhances brain performance by improving circulation. You know that yoga is at work when you feel relaxed and motivated at the end of every session.
2. Yoga motivates you to do better
Since it enhances your well-being, yoga encourages you to do your best. Whether it’s talking to a business partner or developing a new product or service, you will find it easier to concentrate on what matters most. Not only that but it also boosts your mood and eases your anxiety. Doing yoga elevates your mood so you are always ready to accept any challenge that comes your way. On top of that, you will always have the motivation to become a better version of yourself.
3. Yoga improves creative thinking
By itself, yoga can be a meditative process. During a session, you get to purge negative thoughts and concentrate more on how your body and mind. Yoga lets you block out your surroundings and focus on yourself as it enters a state of relaxation. During this time, new ideas will flow as your mind enters a semi-conscious state. When you are done, you will be surprised by the ideas that start to manifest in your head.
4. Yoga increases your productivity
The benefits of yoga to your physical and mental well-being will lead to greater productivity. Since it puts you in a state of rest, yoga helps you recharge so you are ready for anything that lies ahead. Your elevated mood coupled with greater clarity can help increase productivity levels. You will be able to achieve more without feeling exhausted at the end of each day.
Yoga can bring a lot more to the table. It’s just a matter of setting aside time, looking for a quiet space, and finding like-minded individuals who also believe in yoga’s power to transform ordinary people into powerful leaders.
Tips for Doing Yoga As a Leader
Do you want to make the most of yoga as a way to boost your leadership skills and mindset?
Anyone can get started on yoga, but applying the right steps can make all the difference in turning yoga into a daily ritual. To get started on this, here are a few tips you might want to check out:
1. Find a local yoga studio
For many beginners, visiting a yoga studio is a great way to learn the ropes. There, you can learn the basics from an experienced instructor. You also get to meet other people who are just as enthusiastic about yoga as you. From there, you can find fitness partners that can also turn into your closest friends.
It shouldn’t take you forever to find a yoga studio in your neighborhood. However, you still need to make sure that the studio has a good reputation and a comfortable atmosphere for doing yoga. Be sure to read the reviews and ask former students about their experiences.
2. Find DIY guides for doing yoga at home or in the office
If you’re too busy to visit a local studio, you can do yoga during your free time at home or the office. In case you are working permanently from home, consider watching video tutorials on YouTube or purchasing full online yoga courses. You just need to look for a space at home that’s wide enough so you can move freely.
If you’re working on-site, you can find time to do yoga before leaving home. There are DIY yoga guides you can download on your phone or PC. If you can, you can turn your office into a makeshift yoga studio.
3. Get the right equipment
There are no rules to what you should wear and use during a yoga session. However, comfort should be a priority since you could be doing complicated poses. You wouldn’t want to wear slacks or tight-fitting jeans that could hamper your movements. Instead, go for breathable and stretchable pants. For the top, look for one that follows your form. Sleeveless tops are ideal since they allow you to perform complicated stretches. Apart from that, they also allow you to cool down.
When it comes to equipment, you don’t need much other than a high-quality yoga mat. Depending on the type of yoga you are doing, you will need to find a mat that reduces slipping. You have options for reversible mats and mats with textured surfaces. Pick one you think you will be comfortable with.
Yoga Practices for Leaders Like You
Many people tend to think that yoga is a single activity. In reality, it is divided into different variations that serve different purposes. Before you get started, you should pick a yoga activity that suits your lifestyle and mindset as a leader. Here’s a list you can choose from.
1. Hatha Yoga
A beginner-friendly form of yoga, Hatha is slower-paced than any other variation. It also involves basic postures (or asanas) and helps you get started on mastering your breathing techniques. Hatha yoga could be your gateway towards faster-paced yoga variations since it improves your flexibility and introduces you to meditation. This makes hatha yoga a great way to learn stress management and develop better sleeping habits.
2. Yin Yoga
Like Hatha, yin yoga is also a slow-paced style of yoga that uses Chinese medicinal principles. It’s effective in alleviating pain and reducing stress, but yin yoga also has a spiritual component. Practicing yin yoga helps you attain a balance between your mind and body. It’s also meditative since it involves assuming poses for longer periods of up to two minutes. Physically, yin yoga engages muscle tissues and bones and improves circulation. If you are looking for peace of mind, yin yoga deserves a try.
3. Restorative Yoga
For high-achievers like yourself, you need a yoga style that restores the energy you have lost after a long and grinding day. This is the focus of restorative yoga which is designed specifically to help your mind and body relax. Allowing for longer asanas, restorative yoga promotes mind-body healing. It does so through long periods of rest. Described as more passive than other styles, restorative yoga involves using props like folded blankets to help you feel comfortable so you can focus on breathing and emptying your mind of negative thoughts.
4. Yang Yoga
While yin yoga concentrates on the tissues, yang yoga focuses on entire muscle groups. For this reason, this type of yoga is more active since it involves activities and poses that keep the blood pumping. While it’s possible to try out yang yoga as a beginner, practicing it will prove to be a challenge. That’s because yang yoga uses more dynamic rhythms coupled with long, complex poses. It takes time to master these poses, but it’s worth it. Yang yoga increases your stamina and helps you release physical and mental tension.
5. Vinyasa Yoga
If you want to advance from basic postures, then vinyasa yoga should be the next stage in your journey. Keep in mind that this style of yoga is fast-paced. You will need to transition to other forms quickly to create a seamless flow of movement. This type of yoga is too fluid and dynamic for beginners, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. Consider your entry into vinyasa yoga as a test of your readiness to face risks. Just be prepared for an energetic and rhythm-based yoga experience that’s sure to keep your blood pumping!
6. Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini is described as energy stored at the base of the spine. When released, kundalini triggers a heightened sense of awareness of the self. Doing it right helps you overcome your ego and make wiser decisions. If you’re a leader that values self-awareness as essential to your success, practicing kundalini yoga would be ideal for you. However, it can be too intense as it involves fast-paced transitions with moments of chanting and meditation. Once you get past that, you can attain what is described as an “awakening” of all your chakra centers.
7. Jivamukti Yoga
A more modern form of yoga, Jivamukti is more of a lifestyle than an activity. Adherents practice vinyasa movements and adopt an ethical and spiritual lifestyle based on Hindu principles. Developed in the early 1980s, Jivamukti promotes veganism, animal rights, and environmental protection. If you are active in these causes, then Jivamukti could be the best form of yoga for you.
8. Ashtanga Yoga
As another form of fast-paced yoga, ashtanga involves a series of movements and asanas executed rapidly. Described as a variation of Hatha, ashtanga is structured into six different levels, each having a set of postures that must be performed in order. Like other athletic types of yoga styles, ashtanga helps reduce stress and improves your focus. It also offers other benefits for better physical fitness. For one, ashtanga can help you lose weight and increase your endurance.
9. Iyengar Yoga
When it comes to improving your immune system and developing a calmer mind, then Iyengar yoga could be ideal for you. On top of relieving pain, this style also helps you achieve balance in your posture. That’s because Iyengar focuses on precision and pace. It involves assuming longer poses without going beyond the body’s limitations. Some asanas require the use of props like chairs to ensure the precision of the poses. Movements are structured and it might take some time before you can master some of them. Nonetheless, Iyengar yoga can serve as an effective training ground for developing patience as a leader.
10. Karma Yoga
Many people don’t realize that yoga is far from being just a fitness activity. It is also a way of living and a set of principles that must be followed to master your mind and body. Apart from doing exercises, reciting chants, and practicing meditation, yoga is also about doing the right thing. As a core tenet of Hindu spirituality, karma yoga involves controlling your actions and preventing your ego from dictating your decisions in life. As a leader, actions speak volumes of your personality and leadership style. When you choose the path of selfishness, you are setting yourself up for failure. On the other hand, showing selfless kindness to others (especially to those working for you) helps you become a better person.
Yoga can help you become a better leader, but the process won’t take overnight. Incorporating yoga into the professional and personal areas of your life can bring out the best in you. Use this guide as you blaze your way to the top.