in Improvement & Development, Leading the Self

8 Life Lessons From Yoga Workshop

My first introduction to ‘Yoga’ was during my school. In physical education classes, Yoga was taught purely in form of complex physical postures. A few years back, I got in touch again by joining a Yoga workshop and gained a new level of awareness about it. This month, I again enrolled for an advanced workshop conducted by a renowned spiritual teacher and a Yogi. It has been quite an experience, both physically and mentally.

Here are a few lessons I learned from the workshop that can be applied to our life/work to excel:

The light is within. This light within us is a motive force (a software) that enables everything within and through us. This light shines brightly when we seek it, know ourselves, are actualized with our strengths and put them into action. Only then, we make a difference. We constantly look for things outside us, but we first need to peep inside ourselves and seek a higher purpose. People who excel at anything are ones who know what they stand for.

This moment is powerful. Through definite breathing and concentration practices, Yoga taught me to be in the moment. We often end up thinking too much about the past or worry about the future. This steals the beauty of present moment from us. When you eat, be with your food. When you work, be with your work. Mind has a tendency to wander and we need to deliberately practice concentration in whatever we do. This is even more important in a world where distractions are almost endless.

Discipline is a pre-requisite for greatness. Everyday, after the workshop, we are asked to perform Yoga and Pranayama regularly. Yoga is about persistent practice. Whatever we decide to do, we need to do it everyday. Religiously. Regularly. Systematically. Thoughtfully. Discipline beats resistance we encounter while attempting difficult stuff.

Pain makes us stronger. The first time you do any asana/posture, pain is inevitable. It is the same pain (or our perception thereof) that breeds resistance and we try to escape from that pain. In Yoga, persistent practice makes us stronger, flexible and healthy. It makes us resilient, both physically and mentally. I’ve learned that all worthwhile initiatives will have some pain associated with them. We need to ignore short-term pain to achieve long-term benefits.

Change (and improvement) is organic. A lot of people start Yoga (or gym) and expect immediate difference (at one point, I did that too). All meaningful change is organic and happens over a time with persistent effort and constant re-alignment.

Subtle is powerful. When we look at the flame of a candle, there is a gross light (flame itself) and a subtle light (the soft light surrounding the flame). Subtle is what makes it beautiful and powerful at the same time. In Yoga, our postures and breathing is gross, but its effects are subtle. Our body is gross while mind and soul are subtle. In world of management, subtle are our emotions, feelings and intuition. A leader who taps the subtle becomes powerful. Love, patience, honesty and forgiveness are subtle emotions, but powerful ones too. The magic is inside.

Letting go is a sign of strength. We often think that one who lets go is weak. Letting go requires us to detach, which is actually difficult. In Yoga, the act of exhalation is an act of letting the toxic go. In business as in life, we need to learn how to let go and forgive, so that we can break the chains, be free and grow.

Eat. Pray. Work. Love. In one of the sessions, our teacher asked us to recite the following words: “Eat half, Double the intake of water, exercise three times more, laugh four times more (remain happy), work five times more and pray ten times more”. It is a simple, yet very powerful advice for health and happiness.

These are simple lessons and we already know the importance of persistence, practice and discipline in our lives. The tough part is to actually execute, do and deliver. My practice of yoga is a way for me to build these essential traits and see the difference in other parts of my work/life. I am open to learn. How about you?

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Also Check Out: The ASTD Management Development Handbook by Lisa Haneberg where I’ve contributed a chapter on building a quality oriented culture.

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  1. There is one universal school of thought that calls for the same level of practice that a champion olympic Athelete undergoes to attain and contnue to maintain excellence of leadership . The Champion has to continue with even higher level of rigor anecuse it is certain that next time the vd new techniques after having one the event, bar is certainly going to go up. So does a leader, becuse each future challenge is certain to demand innovative and demanding solutions.
    Our ancinet sages, and even [historically accepted] kings were also known to undergo a quite a rigorous regimen of training. One technique used was that of ‘Yoga’.
    Thus, Yoga, too, has great relevance for building the mental equanimity required in a ‘leader’, apart from helping build a healthy physique.
    Indeed a very opportune article for bot the young persons who would be graduating to postions of leadership responsibility as well as for the senior leaders who have to maintain increasingly higher standards of leadership practice.

  2. I think this is a great analogy. I have been practicing yoga for 8 years. It has brought a positive stillness to my life. I stand straighter and taller. The effects it has had on my body and mind grow as I improve with practice. Great post!

    • Thanks Cheri, for sharing your experience with Yoga. Yoga, by definition means union – of mind, body and soul. We were also told that Yoga is nothing but the most natural way of living our lives.


  3. It is always fun & learn to read your blog.
    I like the following
    1. The light is within.
    (My spiritual master always says that GOD is in you, no need to find it outside)
    2. This moment is powerful. (Live in present)
    3. Pain makes us stronger.
    4. Subtle is powerful.

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