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.”
In my experience, the same rings true with our finances. Managing money is more about managing ourselves. If we take that into consideration, than there are many lessons we learn and practice on the yoga mat that we can also apply to our finances and overall lives.
Here are 5 key lessons from the yoga mat that anyone can apply to their finances:
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 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.
In a yoga class it can be very tempting to compare yourself to others, 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 or what others may have that you don't have. 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.
This is perhaps the most important task of 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 on how to safely build the pose from the ground up and center out.
With our finances, it’s a case of understanding your values and aligning your purpose with ethics and intentions in order to achieve wealth. Until we have a solid foundation, you will have trouble navigating your finances with a clear and level mind.
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 calming 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.
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. 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.