How to be a better leader… with yoga.
Now more than ever, managers are held accountable by their employees and clients to be transparent, relatable and focused at all times. We should know, it’s what we expect of our managers here at digital agency ITR8.
So how to deal with this pressure on a daily basis?
We asked our Community Manager and resident yoga teacher Stephanie Cusack how yoga can benefit managers, decision-makers and anyone leading a team, big or small. If you like what you read, keep an eye out for our pre-work yoga and breakfast events, designed to bring more mindfulness into the workplace.
1. Yoga helps you make better decisions.
When you link breath and movement in vinyasa yoga, you dive into a state of moving meditation. This state of heightened awareness calms the ‘chatter’ in your brain and allows you to tune into your instincts. You learn to strip away the superfluous and focus on what’s important, which is crucial when making decisions for your company. A manager who is focused and decisive will inspire more confidence in their employees than one who can’t make up their mind.
2. Yoga helps to re-wire bad habits.
Those who have been to yoga know that it’s not just sitting around and chanting ‘ommm’. Some of yoga poses, called asanas, can bring up a range of thoughts and emotions that may test your willpower to stay in the room! Interestingly, your reactions on the yoga mat tend to reflect how you react to other difficult situations in life. Learning to re-wire these patterns in the yoga room can in turn improve your coping mechanisms for stressful scenarios at work.
3. Yoga gives you small challenges to overcome.
There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off a to-do list. So whether it’s making it to a morning class or attempting an arm balance for the first time, the self-confidence you’ll feel from overcoming these obstacles will help you to face the bigger challenges of your day. It also sets a good example for your employees, that you can dedicate time in a busy schedule towards your own physical and mental wellbeing.
4. Yoga helps you relate to people.
Despite what you might see on Instagram, yoga is not about the crazy handstands. This ancient practice has been around for thousands of years, helping us to connect with our true essence— who we are behind all the titles, roles and responsibilities. When we say ‘namaste’, it’s recognising that the light — the essence — within us is all the same. As a manager, the more you can empathise with your employees, the more they’ll feel valued as a person, the less they’re likely to seek fulfilment elsewhere.
5. Yoga teaches you to be ok with failure.
One of the yogic teachings ‘ahimsa’ translates from Sanskrit as non-violence, but is also taught as a reminder to be kind, and to go easy on yourself. At work, it’s about letting go of perfectionism and accepting that mistakes are an essential part of learning. Encouraging this in your company culture, your team will be more willing to take risks without fear of failure. At ITR8, we have a pretty simple philosophy on risk-taking: if at first you don’t succeed, iterate, iterate again.
6. Yoga each day keeps the chiropractor away.
As much as we all dream of a perfectly ergonomic office, the reality is most of us spend the day hunched over a laptop. To counteract all the sitting, yoga not only provides full range movement, but also increases core strength and flexibility. Chest-opening poses and backbends are important to avoid the ‘hunchback’ so commonly seen in office workers. Also, more core strength = less back problems = more freedom to enjoy socialising/playing with the kids/doing the things you love.
7. Yoga helps you sleep better at night.
Find yourself counting sheep? Stress is often a huge factor preventing people from switching off at night. In my yoga classes, I incorporate restorative poses and breathing techniques that help shift your body into the parasympathetic nervous system — the state of rest and digest. By knowing the right methods to reduce stress in your body, you’re more prepared for a restful night’s sleep, no matter what kind of day you’ve had at the office.
8. Yoga teaches you to be here and now.
When you’re present in the moment, things just flow. In vinyasa yoga, you are constantly focused on your breath, mind and body moving together. The yoga high people rave about is that feeling of being completely present in the moment. How does this translate to work? Studies now show that multi-tasking is a myth. The more you can focus your energy on one task at a time, the more you’ll realise you’re producing better quality work, fostering better quality relationships with employees and attracting the right clients.