The many health benefits of yoga have been widely reported, but in recent years, professionals have begun to see the benefits to the mind, as well. Just a short yoga lesson once a week can teach a business leader the basics of meditation, which he can then take into his everyday office life.
If the thought of contorting your body into seemingly impossible poses terrifies you, practice basic yoga breathing exercises. While the stretches you’ll do in a yoga class can help with your physical fitness, you can get the mental benefits of yoga without investing in a yoga mat. Here are three ways the basic concepts of yoga can improve your leadership skills.
Relax Your Mind
If you tend to lose your cool when things spin out of control, yoga can help you maintain your professionalism. When you’re facing a deadline or you experience a conflict with one of your employees, take a minute to calm yourself. Through deep breathing, you’ll slow your heart rate and take the focus off of the stressor momentarily.
You don’t have to sit in a quiet room to clear your mind. Leave the office and go for a mindful walk, training your mind to pay attention to everything around you. You’ll distance yourself from the situation for a few minutes and return, fully refreshed and ready to take on whatever challenge you’re facing.
When a person experiences stress, the body prepares itself by releasing stress hormones in a natural “fight or flight” response. Over time, being in this state can take a toll on the mind and body, leading to health problems, insomnia, professional burnout, and more. Ideally, you’ll be able to remove the stressors from your life and enjoy a peaceful existence.
If you find you’re facing stress on a daily basis, consider enrolling in a yoga class that meets after work. You’ll put yourself on a schedule to get the relaxation you need. If a yoga class isn’t a possibility, learn to recognize when you need a timeout and find the relaxation technique that works best for you.
Helps with Focus
Once you’ve become comfortable with breathing for relaxation, you’ll automatically begin to practice deep breathing whenever you feel a stressful situation coming on. The mind is a powerful tool and you can accomplish a great deal by adopting a “mind over matter” mentality. Using breathing techniques, you can shut out all distractions and completely dedicate your attention to the task at hand. Even when you’re surrounded by chaos, the right mental state makes a big difference in a person’s ability to get things done.
A big part of yoga is mindfulness. With mindfulness, you train yourself to live one hundred percent in the present. In yoga and meditation, often this involves training your mind on one thing to the exclusion of all else. Thinking about your breath, the feel of your clothing against your skin, the breeze blowing over your face, or the feeling of the floor against your hand as you hold yourself in a yoga pose are all ways to take your mind off of other things. In time, you learn to put this to use in any situation in order to control your response to specific situations.
You wouldn’t think yoga is something that could have a broader effect on business performance, but it’s starting to play a bigger role than ever in office life. By learning proper yoga breathing techniques, you’ll learn to control your own mind, rather than allowing external forces to have power over you. This will make you a calmer, more centered leader and allow you to serve as a good example to the team you lead each day.