A lot of what we learn in yoga can be applied off the mat, including in business.
Someone who starts yoga feels better with time. They develop more energy, and they reduce stress. On the other hand, entrepreneurs usually start with an exciting idea, but in a year they end up overwhelmed, overworked, under-paid, and out of alignment with themselves.
I've experienced it myself in the first year of building my wellness coaching practice. I was working around the clock coaching women on how to live a healthy life free of digestive issues and how to establish better relationships with their bodies, while I suffered from emotional eating, constant bloating, and sitting at the computer all day.
My business was making money, but I was stretched so thin that all I wanted was to escape to an island with no Internet connection. Fortunately, I stepped back and re-evaluated my priorities and attitudes.
Slowly I started applying my core principles of yoga practice to my business. It took time to let go of the old beliefs about what business should be like. Today I finally feel in love, free, feminine, and happy in my business, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three years.
Here are some yogic principles I apply to build my coaching business that leaves me feeling happy, aligned, and fulfilled:
1. Set an intention.
In yoga, we often set an intention for our practice. Why not set an intention for a business? What do you want your customers to feel or understand? What's your mission? Your WHY? Get clear on these answers and clearly communicate them to your partners, co-workers, clients and the world through social media and your online presence. My mission/intention is to support women in re-connecting to their bodies and living free of digestive issues. What is yours?
2. Respect your uniqueness.
Every good yoga teacher respects the unique needs of each student. (Your Warrior One will look different from mine, for example.) In business, there are very few approaches that deserve to be copied 100%. Success of others can be used as an inspiration, sure, but your way will always be unique and different. Celebrate it!
3. Make self-care a priority.
It's impossible to build a prosperous business when you're depleted. A bad mood won't help, either. Business thrives when you thrive. When you feel inspired, energetic, and nourished, business ideas come easy. Your clients feel your energy. Good energy is irresistible and attractive. I have a secret motto: Fill your vessel first, before filling others'.
Sometimes we don’t feel like doing yoga, but once we do it, we're happy we did. Same goes for self-care. Carve out time every day to take care of your mind and body. Move, get outside, eat healthy, or spend time with friends. This will help you stay productive and energized in your business.
4. When making decisions, trust your gut.
In yoga the teacher guides, but you decide how far to go in any pose, how to breathe, and whether to proceed with a certain asana or to skip it. In business, your body is your best advisor when it comes to making big decisions. Not sure if someone is the right partner? Listen to your body: What does it say? Does it feel light, easy, and expanded, or is there contraction and heaviness? The more you listen to your body, the more you will be able to understand its language and its advice. Our body has a deep innate wisdom; heed it.
5. Find balance between challenge, play, and restoration.
A good yoga class has a bit of all three. It is fun and challenging, but also restorative. In my business, play is non-negotiable. I choose projects that are challenging, but also ones where I can incorporate some fun and play. All work and no play will make you hate your business in a year or two. This is the last thing you want to feel when things just start picking up!
6. Don't think of others as your competition.
Everyone has their own path. Everyone in a yoga class has their own yoga practice. We are not here to compare, we're here to move on our own path and do our own practice. Make friends, create a community, and celebrate each other. Don’t compare, envy, or try to copy. You might hurt your neck trying to observe everyone in a yoga class. You might miss on doing your best work if all you do is research your business competition.