By Sarah Dasher
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for a few years, and have become one of those annoying people that suggests a regular practice to everyone I know. I started doing yoga while working at my first full-time, real writing gig. I was doing something that I loved, but unfortunately at a place that didn’t have a nurturing work culture. I was highly stressed, unorganized, and sleep deprived, and if anything at work went even slightly wrong I would torture myself about it for days. I would come home and agonize over every little thing I had done at work that day, which meant that I wasn’t leaving much space in my life for my life. Then I started doing yoga online—just 30 minutes—every day, and that changed everything.
It was a pretty immediate change, too: I started becoming more aware of my body and mind, which led to me respecting myself more. This meant that I made better decisions for myself and that I was better able to act mindfully in other areas of my life. It’s just like that cliché of putting your oxygen mask on before helping someone else with theirs: if you’re struggling just to breath, you can’t be of any use to anyone else.
Hopefully, if you run your own business, then you have created a space for yourself at work that you can be happy in. However, surely we can all feel at times like we are taking on more than we can handle, and business owners especially can have a hard time separating work from their personal lives.
HERE ARE 5 wAYS tHAT YOGA CAN HELP YOU COPE WITH STRESS AND BE HAPPIER AT WORK:
1. It teaches you to recognize stress and deal with it. Breathing exercises, or pranayama, are incredibly effective at calming the impact of stress on our minds and bodies. This is especially beneficial at work because when you are stressed, studies show that you make more mistakes. Even worse, when you’re stressed, you can easily spread that stress to your employees, who will make more mistakes themselves.
Check out this breathing exercise that helps clear the mind and calm the body.
Yoga helps us deal with stress through breath work, but also through difficult poses: when we hold an asana for longer than is comfortable, it retrains our minds not to reject and immediately try to change something stressful or uncomfortable. This makes us less reactionary in our lives, making us more clear-headed and more compassionate.
2. It trains you to be in the moment. Yoga and meditation teach you to fully be in the moment that you are in, which makes it easier to see things as they really are. So if something doesn’t go the way you want it, it’s easier to recognize the actual impact of that incident, rather than making it the end of the world. That way, you can react appropriately, fix it, and move on more quickly.
3. It trains you to focus on one thing at a time. Being in the moment also means you’re not finding other things to think about when you should be concentrating on the task at hand. Meditation especially helps with this. Focusing means you can give your all to one thing at a time, do it well, and then move on to the next thing, giving each task the attention it deserves instead of trying to do everything at once.
4. It teaches you to be more compassionate. Yoga teaches us that we are all connected through the same life force, and that basically we are all just striving for happiness. Knowing that makes it a lot easier to collaborate with those you find difficult to work with, which we all have to do at some point or another. It also makes it easier to forgive ourselves and others for making mistakes, which again, helps us fix problems and move on instead of letting them fester. Check out this piece for more on why being compassionate leads to a stronger workplace.
5. It helps separate work and home. Hopefully you like what you do and who you do it with. Loving your job and being dedicated to the work you do is a great thing. But there is this other thing that’s important too, and some of us can forget sometimes how important it is. It’s called home.
Home, and the people who are in it, is the reason we work in exchange for money, not just out of passion. If you can’t leave your work at the door on your way out, and are constantly worrying about the next steps, then you aren’t enjoying all those things that your salary helps support (your house, your family, your hobbies).
A yoga practice that trains you to be focused, clear headed, and compassionate will also help you live more fully and be more present at home, which ultimately will make you happier and healthier in other aspects of your life, including at work.