How Yoga Prepared Me to Run a Business

I recently commented to a fellow yogi/communications professional that I loved how she flowed her business and her yoga philosophy together so seamlessly. After journaling and reflecting on interviewing Necole Kane at Boss Women Who Brunch, I realized that I too blend my yoga practice into my business, but in different ways.

I have practiced yoga for more than six years, and I still consider myself a student of the practice. Much like I am learning every day as a business owner, from creating processes to client relations and building partnerships, I am learning more about my mental and physical capabilities on and off the mat, to be present in the room and continue growing as a teacher.

Be present

In your practice, if there one thing you’ll hear from a teacher, it’s to stay present. Our monkey minds often want to think about what happened before class and/or what is going to happen after class, instead of the moment we’re in currently. Physical and mental discomfort brought about from your practice can make you separate from the moment.

Stand in it.

I felt the same way about starting my business. It was challenging to say what I do at networking events and among friends who only knew me as an employee. So I didn’t. I checked out, and I’m sure I missed opportunities by not speaking up.

I had to give myself a reality check: you’re not serving anyone by remaining small.

Photo credit: TONL

Say that again, out loud, to yourself. I’ve never been a shy person, and if you know me IRL, you’re nodding in agreement. (Don’t nod too hard!) I had to learn how to be present in this new situation, smile, and say who I was. No hesitation, no pause, no downsizing. Whew, that made my heart race the first few times. But much like the feeling of peace that settles over you once you accept where you are in your yoga practice, good or bad, I began to find calm in saying my new normal. And it was reflected in the level of engagement I received from my conversations.

Practice and all is coming

I love this phrase, because it speaks to the need to remain consistent. Do the work, and all is coming. What is “all”? Well, that’s for you to decide. When I first began as a yoga student, consistency wasn’t so much of a challenge. I had a set work schedule and I looked at what I was paying for membership and said that I had to attend at least four classes a week to make it worthwhile. More often than not, I was able to hit that goal.

As life has gotten busier, it is harder to stick to a consistent practice. However, I know that when I regularly attend class, I’m a happier, more clear-minded woman. Plus, my skin looks great with a regular sweat session!

Now, as a business owner, I am tapping into the idea to inspire consistency in my business marketing and outreach, sharing my thought leadership through writing and networking, and learning. In  business, the “all” that I want to come is a stream of opportunities to do dope work, help others, and live the life that is for me, not pre-written by what is expected of me. That means by practicing  making genuine connections, seeking to help others, and writing, I become a better professional and have more to offer to clients, friends, mentors and mentees, and my industry.

Ahisma- Kindness to Self and Others

Yoga goes beyond the asana, or physical postures. The principles of behavior and attitudes laid out by Patanjali in the “Yoga Sutra” are life lessons we can all use to live better. If you want to learn more, start here with the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga: yamas (ethical restraints or abstentions) niyamas (lifestyle observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (bliss or enlightenment).

The first of the yamas is ahisma, or the principle of doing no harm in thought, speech, or action to all living things. Another interpretation of ahisma is kindness.

Flickr – Caro Wallis

I think many women will nod with me when I say that it is hard to be kind to ourselves. On the mat, I practice ahisma by not comparing myself to others in the room and, as a yoga teacher, I encourage people to work to their level and remind them that there is no perfection in yoga.

As a business owner, and as the executive director of the ColorComm Dallas, kindness is important to give to myself, my clients, my fellow volunteer leaders, and the women we are connecting with throughout the city. Kindness means that I don’t have to be “on” all the time, at every event. I can, and should, take time to be alone, or with friends, or with my husband. Kindness means that even though I’m in charge as executive director, I don’t have to be a “boss” of ColorComm Dallas; I get to listen and allow others to lead and shine for the work they do for the organization. Mostly, kindness means taking a breath and a break when I need to, and not beat myself up for it.

I’d love to hear from my fellow fitness folks out here doing it for themselves:

How has your fitness practice informed your business, and vice versa?

Drop a comment in this post!

Why I Need to Live Like a Rap Star

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

I fully admit to being inordinately amused by the exploits of most rappers, especially in the antics and lifestyle outlined in their lyrics. I figure if an artist is truly about their business, they’re likely are not doing all of the extra activities they list. There are only so many hours in the day.

So, in the spirit of my ratchet music appreciation, and thinking of the conversation I had with one of my coaches, Dawn, I’ve decided that incorporating some aspects of the rapper lifestyle may not be a bad thing.

Fake It Until You Make It

Going back to my earlier statement, rappers are some of the bombastic creative people in the nation. A local star who still lives at home with his mother, works the stock room at Best Buy and records in his third cousin’s basement will have you believe he was just signed to the most well-known label with a million-dollar advance and has the hottest chick the game on his arm at all times. To use an overused term, it’s “swag.” Applying this to me, I have to be more prepared to talk about my ambitions for freelance work. No one wants to hear the hem and haw of tentatively describing aspirations for excellence. Claim it, declare it, own it. Rappers have this spirit in spades, even the ones who record in their closets. Why not adopt that in your business?

Roll With a Supportive Crew

What performer do you know that goes on stage with less than one hype man? I’ll wait…Exactly. Having a passel means rappers are never alone, bored, hungry and without entertainment. And they always have a fall guy, who doesn’t want that! For my needs, my crew  consists of my sorority sisters, family, my career coaches, former supervisors and various social media accounts for inspiration, laughs and thought-provoking commentary. Since I tend to avoid any kind of legal snafus, I never have to ask any of them to take the rap for me, which I’m sure they appreciate. Instead, this assorted group provides me with feedback and guidance, as well as accountability to do even better than I think I can.

Make An Investment

As Jay-Z said years ago in a line that epitomizes the rap life mentality, “Money ain’t a thang.” Cars, jewelry, houses – but I mean, who really looks at the price tag (thanks for that one, Nicki Minaj). Since it’s all about appearances, and I don’t have to impress the masses, my investments are a bit different. For example, one of the first things I did upon realizing that I have to build my brand outside of any company affiliation was purchase business cards and rent a P.O. box. Though my initial reaction was “Why am I spending money when I don’t have any coming in?” I knew it was the right thing to do to show that I was serious about my aspirations. Now when I go to networking events, I have my own card to hand out. And should I need to receive payments or contracts, I can have them sent to a location that is independent of my home address. As I go even further down the road of independent ownership of my work, I know additional investments will be necessary, though likely not dipped in gold like a Jesus piece. Mentally, this is part of the process for which I have to prepare myself (and my bank account). Thankfully, my momma didn’t raise a fool when it comes to saving and spending wisely.

So, that’s how I plan to adopt a limited scope of the rap star lifestyle. How are you embracing your inner rock and roll star: what would you add to this list?

Also, just for fun: my 90s rap name is Smoove V Tha Magnificent Thief. I will take that, expect T-shirts soon!