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How practicing yoga is like running a creative business

(painting by Jennifer Lee)

NOTE: This first appeared as a guest post on Way of the Happy Woman.

As a creative entrepreneur and life coach, I’m always integrating my many passions to better support me on my path.  Two of my passions, yoga and creativity, serve as cornerstones for helping me bring more authenticity and awareness into my work.  In my yoga teacher training, It’s Yoga founder Larry Schultz shared, “Ashtanga is a science of sequencing poses using bandhas, breath and movement to create change.”  Besides describing the practice of yoga, Larry’s philosophy also resonated with me as a meaningful way to approach running a creative business (and living my life, for that matter).

As I grow my business I’m stringing together a series of small steps to create positive change.  Bandhas, breath and movement help me consciously flow through the entrepreneurial world with more intention and ease.

How can these yogic elements help you off the mat and in your business?

  • The bandhas are specific energy locks in the body.  Engaging your bandhas connects you to your core strength and keeps you stable so you can stretch and move safely.   The other week, I injured myself by overextended in a backbend without fully engaging my bandhas.  I strained myself moving into a vulnerable position because I neglected to stay connected to my core.  In business, bandhas are your core mission.  What are you taking a stand for in your work?  What will ground you as you challenge yourself to move beyond what you think you’re capable of?  When I lose sight of my mission or compromise my core, I find myself overextended and overwhelmed.  Aligning to my mission keeps me strongly rooted in what matters most to me and to my business.
  • The breath connects mind, body and spirit.  Larry would say, “Breath is food for the spirit.”  Pranayama, or exercising breath control, helps you stay present and focused.  When the mind wanders in yoga, you bring your attention back to your breath.  Off the mat, many of us juggle so many balls that we can get distracted from our mission or disconnected from ourselves.  If breath is food for the spirit, how are you feeding your spirit in your business?  How do you stay inspired and connected to your own innate creativity?  What keeps you present and focused?  For me, inspiration and breath show up by giving myself plenty of white space to develop new ideas, to reflect on what’s working or not working and to practice self-care.  What will breathe new life into your business today?
  • In Ashtanga yoga, poses are linked together through fluid movement accompanied by breath and engaging the bandhas.  The vinyasa practice can be quite rigorous and yet it has a graceful flow as one asana leads to the next.  Being in business can be demanding.  There’s a lot to get done and usually with limited resources.  In the midst of these challenges, how do you maintain a graceful flow in your business?  What actions can you take to connect the mini-milestones that make up your business plan?  If you find yourself stagnant or stuck, what can you shift to move forward?  What helps me move forward is identifying small steps and taking them one at a time.  I have the big picture in mind, but I know it’s the culmination of taking all those small steps that will help me manifest my vision.

Yoga philosophy offers many insights into bringing more conscious intention and ease into your creative business and your life.  Trust that the ancient wisdom of integrating the bandhas, breathe and movement can help you access core strength, focus and flow.  And from there, you can create powerful, positive change on and off the mat.


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  • Brigette September 9, 2010, 3:54 am

    Jen, I absolutely love this post. Like you, I enjoy linking the motions of yoga to life. Unlike you, I am in a transitional period in my career – wanting to exit a medium sized corporate company and branch out on my own. I have so many ideas but am stuck not knowing which one to start with or how to get them from idea stage to pitch & implementation stages. …Then I end up throwing my hands up in the air and doubting that I’ll actually make the efforts lucrative – which keeps me stuck as well.
    Jennifer you sound like you’ve travelled through many developments yourself. Have you expereinced similar things before? Do you have any advice or pointers on how to transition this period?
    Thanks for your words

    Brigette, Melbourne Australia

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