January 6, 2014

4 Things Yoga Taught Me about Being a CEO. ~ Ingrid Sanders

I’ve always been passionate about yoga.

I’ve been practicing for over 15 years and was recently certified as a Jivamukti instructor.

There are many examples of yoga as metaphor, but when I started my company popexpert last year, I was almost surprised to discover the many ways my practice mirrored my skills as a businesswoman.

Being a first-time entrepreneur is a journey, much like being a yoga student. I’m starting to understand that yoga philosophy can literally be applied to anything, and my practice has undoubtedly shaped my business skills, particularly in these four key ways:

 1) Be Flexible.

Yoga teaches us to let go of tension and rigidity within the body, to stretch our muscles and move a little bit deeper into each pose.

Similarly, as an entrepreneur, I have learned the importance of being flexible and going with the flow. Plans change, schedules get delayed, appointments fall through. Sometimes, my vision manifests differently than I expected. It is not always easy to alter my views or bend like tress in the wind when new challenges arise, but practicing mental flexibility can allow your business to stretch and grow in ways you never imagined.

 2) Each Day Is New.

In my yoga practice, my body changes during the days, weeks, and months. Some days I walk into class and feel energized and alive—time passes quickly, I’m confident, I’m strong. Other days, I feel exhausted. I can’t wait for the class to end; I want to curl up in Savasana.

In this same way, each day as an entrepreneur I begin anew.

Many days I am full of ideas and inspiration, but there are still days when I feel like I’ve hit a wall and can’t possibly keep going. It’s impossible to avoid these bad days entirely, but it is possible to manage them.

Even if I don’t feel great at the end of a yoga class, I remember that I still showed up, that time spent on my mat is never wasted and that I didn’t quit even when the poses felt heavy and difficult.

Being an entrepreneur means a lot of ups and downs but I keep showing up and doing my best—whatever ‘my best’ is on that particular day.

 3) Rest Is Important!

At the end of every yoga class, we rest in Savasana. Taking that time, as many teachers have taught me, is essential. It’s as important as the more difficult poses. It gives the body a moment to let all the work sink in.

Being my own boss, it’s easy to run myself into the ground—there’s always more to be done!

But I have to take time to reflect, relax, and take care of myself. Without this time, stress and negative energy can take over, causing me to lose focus.

Resting and reflecting is how I stay grounded and keep my priorities straight. I’m not going to make a great company if I’m not constantly being my best!

 4) Improvement Doesn’t Happen Overnight.

When I was a beginner yogi, I immediately wanted to try advanced poses because they looked so beautiful and amazing. It was hard for me to accept that I wasn’t ready when I watched other people in my classes move into these postures with ease.

I finally learned to accept that improvement doesn’t happen overnight.

Eventually I got there and now I’m a certified Jivamukti instructor, but it was a journey.

As an entrepreneur, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that my business should be growing faster. I can get frustrated and anxious—never good for running a company!

It’s important to step back and remember that improving a business takes time and a lot of hard work. Just like yoga, progress can often be slow, but progress is still progress.

Success doesn’t happen by magic, it happens when we work hard, stay committed, and don’t let anything discourage us!


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Assistant Editor: Terri Tremblett/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Joel Nilsson/Wikimedia Commons


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Ingrid Sanders