When it comes to stress management, there is still a centuries-old tradition I haven’t mentioned yet: Yoga. As we continue our conversation about how to feng shui your business and bring more joy into your life and work, I wanted to remind you of the amazing healing powers of yoga.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years, and has become quite popular in North America over the past decade or so. It’s no surprise to me that it’s so popular however, yoga is incredibly effective as a relaxation and stress management technique.
"Doing even just a few minutes of yoga each day really can make a huge difference in your energy."
Doing even just a few minutes of yoga each day can make a huge difference in your energy. If you have been working on something and feel stuck, or if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, stepping away from the desk for even five minutes and doing something as simple as bending forward and letting your head hang heavy, or lying with your legs up the wall, all while breathing deeply, can dramatically shift your energy.
There are many different styles of yoga as well, which makes it really accessible to all types of people. You can enjoy an active yoga practice, like Ashtanga yoga, when you want to pump it up and feel energized. My Ashtanga days are behind me now, but I used to enjoy that style of yoga. If Ashtanga’s not your thing, you might enjoy restorative yoga when your feel your body needs a rest.
"Restorative yoga is such a wonderful gift to give yourself, and greatly helps reduce stress and provide relaxation."
In restorative yoga, you are invited into a posture that is already fairly easeful, and then supported by pillows, blankets and bolsters in order to allow your body to really sink into the pose. Restorative yoga is such a wonderful gift to give yourself, and greatly helps reduce stress and provide relaxation. While you are in the poses, you breathe deeply, the mind calms, and the body is allowed to have a supported stretch.
Another wonderful style of yoga is yin yoga. We’ve talked about the yin-yang balance in this series, and yin yoga is really about receiving. Yin yoga, like restorative, invites us to hold postures for a long time. However, unlike restorative yoga, you are not supported by props. All the same, letting our bodies stretch and relax for several minutes in a pose truly rejuvenates and restores us. This gives us the passion and energy we have for our businesses, and gives us that good kickstart we need to keep going.
What makes yoga such an effective form of stress management is the combination of movement and breath, especially the deep breathing that is encouraged in the practice. Even if you don’t have time to do yoga, just taking three deep breaths before you sit down at the desk, or before you have to communicate with someone, or anytime, can be so relaxing in and of itself. As Laura Gisborne says, oxygen is a great drug! So keep breathing and using that oxygen, knowing all is well.
"As Laura Gisborne says, oxygen is a great drug! So keep breathing and using that oxygen, knowing all is well."
Yoga is actually a means of keeping the body healthy and flexible so that we can sit in meditation. I meditate daily, in the style of kriya yoga, and it helps me so immensely I can’t go a day without it. Just to have some time in the day to find that peace and calm within is truly so nourishing.
Whether you do vigorous yoga, relaxing yoga, work with breathing practices or start a daily meditation, I encourage you to take advantage of these modalities as tools to help you manage your stress.
Where in the world are you reading from today? Are you in the Middle East? Japan? Australia? North Carolina? What season is it there? What beautiful things are happening right outside your window that you might not be noticing because you’re working so hard lately? Where can you find a little wiggle room in your day to fit in a walking meditation?
My husband and I live in Northern California on an organic farm, and every spring we are blessed with the most beautiful buds blooming outside our windows on our apricot trees. While viewing them from inside is a blessing, nothing beats walking underneath those bright flowers in the warm sun and the fresh air. My German Shepard Belle (or “beauty” in French) certainly agrees with me! Every day she comes to sit beside me as I work on my business, waiting patiently for me to take her on the path around our property. We’ve been around it so many times I know exactly how long the walk will take us: one hour and fifteen minutes.
But lately I have been pretty busy with my business, and as much as I would love to take my darling girl on those daily walks, I simply haven’t been able to find the time to do so.
I know you can burn a lot of calories by going to the gym (good news if you love to eat like I do!) but there are so many benefits to walking. There’s something about getting out into nature that’s very, very peaceful. Consider it more than just walking. Consider it a walking meditation.
When I take this regular stroll with Belle, all of the sudden all of these ideas flood into my head—and not just about my business although that is one of the biggest areas of my life, but also about my family and other things. These walking meditations are about balancing out my life, about giving back to myself, about giving back to my family, and to allow the things that I love into my life like quilting and fun and creativity to easily flow into my life. For you, walking meditation might bring you something completely different. It might help you clear your head about your romantic relationship or the price you charge for your work or the fight you’ve been in with your sister.
I want to invite you to, when you’re stuck in your business or you’re burned out because you’ve been sitting all day at your computer, take a walk. Leave your iPhone and ear buds at home and tune in with nature instead. Pay attention to the color of the sky, the breeze as it blows your hair off your face, the electric green of the moss on the trees, the oranges and yellows on the flowers blossoming.
You don’t have to adhere to the hour and fifteen minutes that Belle and I do. Fit in as much of a walking meditation as you can, whether that’s twenty minutes here and there or you go for two hours straight. As with everything I write here on the GaijinWorks International Business Coaching blog, I want you to take what resonates with you and apply it to your own life. It might be that you aren’t interested in going to live in another country like I did when I went to Qatar or that you don’t revel in project management applications as much as I do. That’s all perfectly okay as long as you pay attention to the parts that do speak to you and your intuition and then use those parts in your life.
Have a happy spring and enjoy those walking meditations. Did you get an idea or two for your business? I bet you did! Write me in the comments below.