Yoga + Money might seem like a strange combination to most people, but to me it makes complete sense. Time spent on the yoga mat is a perfect way for us to connect and build our self-awareness. According to T.K.V Desikachar, one of the world’s foremost teachers of yoga “The success of yoga does not lie in the ability to perform the postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships”.
And in my experience the same rings true with our finances. Managing money well is more about managing ourselves well and to that extent there are many lessons that we learn and practice on the yoga mat that we can also apply to our finances, and our broader lives for that matter.
Here are 5 key lessons from the yoga mat that anyone can apply to their finances:
Set a Sankalpa
In yoga it’s common to set an intention at the beginning of a practice. The purpose of setting an intention is to connect your mind to your body so our intentions and actions are in alignment.
An intention can be a word or short phrase that represents a value you'd like to bring into your practice or life and examples could be “balance”, “focus”, “compassion”, “gratitude” or “control”. By being aware of what you are seeking from your practice, you can then use this awareness to see best direct your energy and align your actions in order to achieve it. When it comes to our finances, if you can get clear on what it is you need to manifest then you can direct your energy and actions in order to actually create and achieve it.
Keep your Focus on your Mat
In a yoga class it can be very tempting to compare yourself to others in the class wearing their beautiful yoga gear and performing the perfect headstand. But there is no competition in yoga. Yoga is a personal, self-development practice so our focus should remain entirely on our own mat at all times. When it comes to your wealth it can also be tempting to focus on what you are lacking of what others may have that you don't and this can create feelings of jealousy or unhappiness. Rather than competition, you can look towards others as a source of inspiration for your own journey and in your own yoga and wealth practices.
Build a Solid Foundation
This is perhaps the most important task in any yoga pose. Only when we create a solid foundation are we able to rise and expand. Our foundation provides us with strength and stability from which to build, stretch and expand. In order to sustain any type of growth, evolution or success, whether it’s a new financial or personal goal or your yoga practice, you first need a solid foundation from which to build. On the yoga mat, this foundation comes from a strong and purposeful connection and the knowledge to safely build the pose from the ground up and centre out. With our finances, it’s a case of understanding your values and knowledge, aligning your purpose ethics and intentions with wealth and money in order to stretch and expand from in order to build wealth.
Find your Drishti
The term ‘drishti’ refers to the yoga practice of finding a point of focus to rest your gaze and provide you with a sense of stability. Your drishti can help you to maintain balance in a difficult or challenging pose as it provides a point on which to concentrate and remain steady and in alignment. When you are faced with many distractions, this technique is useful for stilling the mind in order to focus on one specific thing – that which you are trying to achieve. Off the yoga mat and in the world of personal finance your drishti can provide you with a focus and way of keeping on track to meeting your goals when distractions, excuses and bad habits come into play.
Play to Your Edge
A large part of the skill in yoga lies in sensing just how far to move into a stretch. If you don't go far enough, there is no challenge, intensity or stretch and on the flip side, by going too far you increase the possibility of both physical pain and injury. There is a point somewhere in between these two places that is referred to as your “edge” and it is in this place that we find balance. We have intensity without pain, use without abuse and strength with ease.
When it comes to our finances, we all have income and spending, borrowing and investing edges. You can learn to “play the edge” when you are aware of where these edges are and can remain comfortably in this space, with awareness.
It is often said that yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice and I think the same can be said about our finances. What is good in theory is only good in practice and it is only with sustained practice that we will see results.