The Six Sigma Way of Yoga

Business is driven by what we choose to measure, and most often the first things measured are the easiest and most obvious. Unfortunately, this doesn't always create the best results. When building cars, for example, the easiest thing to measure may be throughput: how many cars did we make this hour? Straightforward and easy to see. But what happens if those cars don't work?

Six Sigma is an approach to business invented by Motorola in the 1980s, which shifts focus from obvious measures like throughput, over to a new measure: errors. How many errors occurred, for every million opportunities that exist to make an error? A Six Sigma operation makes less than 3.4 errors for every million opportunities. This creates cars, televisions, and companies that work.

In yoga, we can all repeat the familiar mantra that it's what you can't see that counts the most. Yet what I see people most often measure is, predictably, what's easiest to measure: the poses. We can see them, we have some pictures of what they should look like, that person over there is doing them. So we're going to work hard until we can nail them. This approach might produce some poses. But it doesn't produce the best outcomes.

Another thing we all know: yoga can help us live calm, peaceful, capable, and happy lives. None of us would choose to practice frustration, force, and struggle in yoga. But when we hold up a picture of someone else's body, or a pose, as our key measure -- there is no way to control what we're actually producing. Struggle and frustration are likely.

We're all running our own lives. Choose the right measures, and we create great products. Choose the wrong ones, and we may find some unexpected clunkers. If given the choice to a) feel easy, calm, and happy, or b) feel tense, aggressive, and stressed, we'd easily choose the first! But if that's not our measure -- if what we measure is an exterior picture rather than an interior feeling - what we get is the second.

For goal-driven types, there's an important twist to understand here. When our focus turns to feeling easy and relaxed in yoga, rather than striving to achieve a certain picture, what we get is increasingly limitless capability to create any picture we want, both inside and out. The hardest poses become easy, no struggle needed. We achieve great capability. It's easy to understand that capable lives aren't created through tension and force.  We only need to put that understanding into what we practice, which is how we live.   

If you haven't already, it's time to change what you measure.

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Michael Taylor

Co-Founder Of Strala Yoga & Tai Chi Expert
Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.
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Michael Taylor

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