Yes! Yoga and leadership do go together!
In 2016, after practicing yoga for more than 10 years, I wanted to deepen both my knowledge and practice. A yoga studio near me was offering yoga teacher training and I decided to sign up. I participated in 200 hours of training over a six month period and in 2017 I received my certification. I then went on to teach yoga classes in my spare time, while I worked in my corporate america job.
Fast forward to 2019, I have since taught more than 250 hours of yoga classes and taken an additional 30 hours of training.
As I reflect back on this experience, there are many personal and leadership lessons that I learned.
1) Yes, you can. But, it might take 200 hours
My dad is a tennis pro. He has been playing tennis for about 20 years and competes with others in his own age group. A few years ago, I decided to take tennis lessons. I figured if my dad played really well, maybe there was some innate skill that ran in the family. I quickly learned that I was wrong! I had no natural skills and was terrible. I had signed up for six sessions, but only attended two and gave up. I was not interested enough in the game to really apply myself.
If I had stuck with it, and attended 200 hours of training like I did for yoga instruction, I have no doubt that I would be at least a below- average player today.
The uber-popular singer Beyonce recently released a documentary called Homecoming, about her concert tour experiences. In this film viewers learn that she spent more than six months practicing both her singing and dancing, to be be able to perform at her desired level for a two hour concert. Wow. That is commitment!
In our personal and professional lives, we often have a desire to reach a goal or learn a new skill. We take some action, or do a bit of training, but after a short time, we give up. Why? Because change is hard. Reaching stretch goals is hard. It is easier to drive around in our comfort zone and stick to our routines.
If you really want to achieve something new, you can. But, you have to commit to the marathon, not the sprint. There are no quick fixes. It also helps if you are passionate about this new thing. What could you do after 200 hours of practice?
2) Continuous learning energizes and inspires. Happy brain, happy life
A few years ago, one of my peers gave his notice. The company had planned to backfill his position from the outside, but I asked my boss if I could take on his organization instead. His team worked hand in hand with my existing team, and there were many benefits of creating a single, unified team. Although I had no experience in his area, I convinced my boss that I could learn and ultimately the consolidation was approved.
As early as day two, I realized that I had stopped learning things in my old job. It had become a bit routine and predictable. With this new team, I was learning new things every day, and felt energized and inspired. My brain was happy. My leadership effectiveness improved.
I had similar feelings when I attended yoga teacher training. Did you know there are eight limbs of yoga? Did you know that yoga not only influences our physical body, but also our energetic body? Do you know that there are many ways we can breathe, beyond just a basic inhale and exhale? After I attended 200 hours of yoga training, I realized how much more there was to learn. That is why many yoga teachers (including me) go on to get their 500 hour certification.
Are you making your brain happy? Continuous learning will energize and inspire you. Continuous learning will make you a better leader.
3) Shared experiences create community
One of the best new employee orientations I ever experienced was when I worked for monster.com – the jobs website. It was very well planned and organized- from the design of the room, to the instructors, to the swag (tons… tee shirts, books, pens, mugs etc), to the agenda.
I spent one week in this orientation with about ten other employees all across the company and something interesting happened. Even though we had vastly different roles, from sales to service to IT, we became a new employee community. This bond lasted well after orientation.
The same thing happened in my yoga teacher training. There were 16 of us with vastly different backgrounds, who went through the 200 hour experience together. Although we graduated two years ago, 10 of the 16 students continue to stay in touch and have formed a yoga teacher bond. We share ideas, we refer each other to teaching opportunities and we get together as friends.
Employees stay at companies because of the people they work with, not because of the company itself. As leaders, I believe we can bring our teams closer together by creating shared experiences. These could be work related or they could be just for fun.
How can you improve employee morale and retention, by encouraging shared experiences?
There were many other lessons beyond just three that came from my yoga teacher experience. Stay tuned… maybe there will be a part two!
© 2019, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.