The evolution of man
The airy lightness felt from head to toe unfamiliar as I took each step. With it a state of calm clarity like the cool morning mist rising to reveal a gorgeous blue sky day.
Certainly not, I thought, something I’d felt before without the aide of a drink or a freshly smoked spliff — and yet unlike those foggy substance fuelled states this was clean, clear, and crisp.
How could this be? How could such simple movements and breathing accomplish this?
Six years and a lot of sweating later I found myself receiving thanks from others for facilitating their arrival to just such a state. This simple tool had become such a massive part of my life that I’d trained as a yoga teacher, and with that process an understanding of the resistance we all have towards our evolution revealed.
On the arrival of things new and different humans are skeptical. At first, results appear magical, as if there is some hidden mysticism at work, something we mustn’t trust. We excuse ourselves and say “that’s not for me”, or “I’m just not the kind of person who does (fill in the blank)”.
Yet there are those among us who remain curious. We quietly dig deeper, have a taste, because we must know for ourselves. When the results become real we want to share and may find ourselves met with challenge, questions, or criticism.
As I first shared my interest in yoga I found many of these things, particularly from male colleagues in The City. It was as if there was something about yoga that wasn’t manly enough for them. The smirk, or subtle chuckle of laughter, as their images of women in yoga pants or cross legged mystics chanting and Om’ing came to mind.
What these men failed to understand was the impact just a few hours a week of such an activity was doing for my life and career — how that calm clarity could set me up to walk in and nail that next sales pitch, close the deal, or present to the team; how that physical challenge on the yoga mat could flex and stretch the mind preparing it for challenges in life and work; and how this was just as readily available to them if they wanted it.
I saw this and took it further — in time I noticed that some of those smirks and snickers turned to questions and curiosity. Those classes where I was the only man in the room moved towards a more balanced male/female ratio. I could see that I wasn’t the only one in a suit who’d found the benefits of this practice.
And yet the skepticism still exists, the tipping point has not yet arrived.
Yoga is one of the ways we achieve a state of flow — and with that flow we can outperform in business and in life. The research on this is pouring in as people from artists to entrepreneurs and adventure sports enthusiasts leverage this impact to enhance their performance.
Personally I integrate lessons from the yoga mat to more quickly hack into flow state to have more fun tearing down the side of a mountain on my snowboard, as well as how to keep calm whilst packed into a rush hour train, stay cool in the midst of a 5 year old’s temper tantrum, or prepare for a business meeting.
Do your own field research into how this might help you — try a few classes and see what you think. Acknowledge that there are many different styles and teachers, so you’ll need to make a few attempts.
Going to one class and thinking you know what yoga is — is a mistake.
Don’t be put off by the physically fit men and women in the room — many of them have been at this for years. Trust that their journeys started out much as yours — with skepticism, curiosity, and a complete inability to touch their toes.
My two missions in life are to to help others see the value of a simple yoga practice and how integrating adventure sports activities to hack flow can help them outperform.
More on yoga: Crisp Yoga
More on flow: Adventure, Flow, Create