How Yoga Can Help Your Professional Life

Lessons Learned from Yoga Promote Happiness & Success at Work.

Caryn Sullivan
Thrive Global



Yoga can be incredibly intimidating when you’re new. As a beginner, I remember being self-conscious about my appearance and would often wear dark layered clothing, thinking it would make me look thinner. Wanting to go unnoticed, I also feared that everyone would scoff at my stiff, inflexible body. So I separated myself from the room hoping nobody would notice me.

What I soon realized, however, is that nobody was looking at me. Instead, they were all looking within themselves. After a few sessions, I was pleased to learn that yoga is more of a practice focused on personal intentions, rather than a class to conquer or a place to judge others. After practicing yoga regularly for a few months and now on-and-off as my schedule allows, I can proudly say that it has helped boost my confidence and taught me lessons that help me thrive in my professional life.

Enjoy the Stillness and Set an Intension
I used to show up within minutes of the class starting. I squeezed myself in a back row, and like an old gymnastic lesson, I would spend a quick minute stretching my legs before class began. Now, I enjoy arriving early or staying late to lay completely still on my back. Instead of being bored by the stillness, I now accept the calm moments to connect with myself on a physical and mental level. Even a few minutes of this stillness helps clear my mind for the day.

As a professional, while I’ve always arrived early to meetings and events, I seldom sought a zen place before or afterwards. I do now … These moments clear my head. I set an intention or remind myself of a goal that I want to accomplish. These calming moments also allow my mind to feel fresh and open to creative or complex conversations. Afterwards, those few minutes help me process my thoughts more effectively.

Stop Watching the Clock and Be Present
I used to arrive at class and immediately wish it was over. Ninety minutes felt like an eternity. I would watch the clock hoping to receive the toxin release, flexibility and weight loss benefits while also conjuring up my to-do list. While I looked zen, my mind wrestled with several conversations. Now, I challenge myself to think less. I listen to the instructor, especially when he/she explains the detoxifying benefits of a single pose. I work on staying in the moment, imagining my body healing with every move.

In our professional lives, we’ve all been in long, mandatory meetings … imagine listening closely to what’s being said and not multi-tasking. Oftentimes we think about our next move in big meetings, our mind wanders and then we miss some of the points being communicated. Stop. Listen. Learn. While not every meeting will be inspirational, the energy received from the room and people will change. Likely, you will feel more motivated.

Take a Front Row Seat
My body is still inflexible and my poses are far from pretty, but it’s not about being the best. In order for me to set an intention to improve, I watch myself working on poses by situating myself in the front row. Watching closely in a mirror is powerful, especially if I’m kind to myself. My experience changed immensely when I took a front row seat. I now celebrate the small improvements because I see them. I may laugh, but never snarl at my less-than-perfect body performing these postures.

The lesson here is the same. Taking a front row seat in yoga reminded me to do the same in my professional life. While there are typically no mirrors in business meetings, sitting up front often forces us to be present. We see and connect with others more intently because they’re in our close line of site. Also, throwing myself into a new situation, a proverbial front seat, gets me out of my comfort zone and often times I have accomplished new feats.

Model from Others But Don’t Compare
Originally when I started, I watched others and judged myself for not being “good enough.” What I’ve found is that a little modeling goes a long way. Covertly checking my neighbor’s yoga move and then listening to instructor helped me learn the poses. Now, I’m on my own. I learned the moves. It’s up to me to focus on my yoga practice. Comparing or harshly critiquing myself doesn’t help me improve.

In my professional career, I’ve often compared myself to others and then judged myself. Yoga reminded me to find role models, take their instruction and put one foot in front of the other toward progression not perfection. Within time and without constant self-judgement, I’ve made progress. Progress led to more progress, which catapulted into success.

What lessons have you learned from your personal life activities that apply to your professional one?

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This post was inspired by one previously featured on



Caryn Sullivan
Thrive Global

Healthy lifestyle writer and motivational speaker who always finds time to smile. Seen on @HuffingtonPost, @DrOZ & @WTNH.