When you think of what makes people better leaders, yoga and meditation are probably not the first things that come to mind. These solitary, calm, and spiritual practices are all about inner reflection and relaxation—not about relating with others. However, before you can be an effective leader, you have to be in touch with your own mind, which is something that both yoga and meditation can help you achieve. There are lots of reasons to take up yoga and meditation for personal reasons, but it can be a great tool for enhancing your leadership abilities, whether you supervise just a few people, or you’re the CEO. Let’s take a look at why you can help your leadership blossom by using these tools.
Reduced Stress = Greater Effectiveness
As a leader, you know that your team isn’t at peak productivity when they’re feeling stressed out. The same goes for you. If you’re feeling the pressure, then you may not be reacting appropriately to different work situations, and your whole team’s performance can suffer. Yoga and meditation are excellent stress-busters, helping you feel calmer, more relaxed, and more centered when practiced regularly. Because stress can have a major negative impact on your mood, practicing yoga, meditation, or both can help you to be kind and empathetic with everyone around you.
You’ll Learn the Different Ways to Practice—and Work
In yoga, most instructors give options rather than straight directives. They guide the practice, but there are so many variations and modifications that can be made based on each student’s needs. This is an important lesson in leadership as well as in life—that very little in this world is one-size-fits all. Each employee you manage has a different personality, capacity, and needs. Just as a yoga teacher must ensure that everyone in the class is given the opportunity to go through their own practice, you must be flexible in leadership to ensure that everyone’s talents are leveraged properly, and that you’re not making team members resentful or upset regularly. Meditation is also a self-guided practice, and there are lots of “right” ways to achieve a relaxed and clear state of mind.
Opens Up Your Thinking
Stuck in a rut? Try meditating or getting a massage before you head into the office in the morning. It’s easy to lose your creativity when you’re mired in the day to day management tasks you’re responsible for. The quiet, focused time you will enjoy during yoga or meditation can help you open up your thinking, come up with new creative ideas, and even hone your focus. We live in such a loud world that creative ideas often get pushed out by louder, more insistent thoughts that are focused on daily tasks. Make quiet space for these important ideas by leveraging the calming power of yoga or meditation.
There are health benefits to regular yoga practice, both physical and mental. You’ll likely feel calmer, more relaxed, and able to handle stressors if you do yoga regularly, and you’ll also increase your flexibility and strength. Yoga poses can target muscles all over the body in one practice, and you’ll gradually be able to increase your range of motion and ability to hold poses over time. As long as you’re guided by an experienced teacher and listen to your body, yoga is gentle and should not cause injury.
When and How to Practice
You don’t have to be an athlete to get the most out of yoga, and you don’t have to be an introvert to gain benefit from meditation. There are classes for every level, and both men and women attend yoga classes on a regular basis. If you’re not sure where to start with meditation, you can try with a few minutes at home, or see if there are any guided meditation sessions offered near you.
The best time of day for yoga and meditation is—whatever works for you! For many busy people, mornings are usually easiest, and set a great tone for the day. If you’re not a morning person, however, you might want to wind down at the end of the day with your practice. Try a few different times and see what feels best.
Enjoy the Journey
As a leader, it’s important not to stagnate or become complacent. The wonderful thing about yoga and meditation is that these practices are never finished. There is always more to do along the journey. New poses, new discoveries, and constant personal growth. Using these philosophies in your professional life will help remind you that there’s no winning or losing, no final end goal—it’s about maintaining effort and continuing to grow in leadership —and in life.