The Lessons I Learn from Yoga about Career Planning

Career Discovery, Career Enrichment, Mental Health, Physical Health, Presence
02/15/19 - Eden Waldon

The practice of yoga is dynamic. Yoga offers strength and lessons that can be adapted to many areas in our lives.  Yoga has become integrated into our culture as more than a physical practice. It also offers mental health benefits in connecting the mind and body.  

For those of you that are new to the practice or idea of yoga, you can start at any time and find a style that works for you! I personally practice two specific types of yoga. One more so for the mental and physical elements that it provides, and the other for meditative and spiritual experiences.

When engaged with yoga, I find myself becoming stronger as I flow with intention. But on the same account, I am gentle toward my limitations. I soften my expectations and express gratitude toward myself through the difficult poses, knowing that I can come to my mat to let my life unfold (literally!).

Yoga and Your Career

As I share with you the benefits of yoga, I will also guide you through some of my personal takeaways and how I incorporate yoga into career planning as a Career Specialist. I want to guide you through my own practice and essence of a yoga practice. All of which can help you find calmness and resolution with your career goals.

Here are some of the most powerful lessons I’ve taken from yoga (and you can too!):

1. Be intentional.

Yoga begins and ends with intentions. What is your intention, today?

That is a question I often ask myself, as I am often asked to set an intention every time I enter a yoga class. As I write this, my intention is to share my loving, sometimes gentle, and sometimes a bit intense (I’ve been known to take 2 classes a day!) practice of yoga with you. It’s the why behind the practice, and how these practices can be integrated with your career. Such as decision-making and transitioning, the job search and everything in between.

My practice offers balance among the physical, emotional and mental areas of my life. The depth of where yoga can transform thinking and physical limits in a certain amount of time is what continues to bring me back to the practice, to the present moment and to a space of gratitude.

Being intentional is incredibly important in our lives and careers.

Time can pass by so quickly when we just sit back and let life happen to us without taking an active and intentional role in shaping our career paths. When I work with clients who are lost in their path or struggling to land a job, the first thing I often do is take a pause to help them think through what they want their career to be about, to feel like and the impact they want to make. This makes the path forward much clearer.

If you’ve been caught up in the hustle and bustle, take a minute today to reflect and consider, “What impact do I want to make in my career?” and then start acting with intention.

2. Find your calm.

Allow yourself time away from your mental processing. Statistics show that on average we move through 48 thoughts per minute. Yoga fosters mindfulness, awareness to our thoughts with a focus on allowing those thoughts to pass and enter a state of mental calmness. Where in your life is there added stress? Not surprisingly, most people have stress around their careers. Whether that is related to the role itself, often due to lack of flexibility or work and life imbalance.

In order to help de-stress, where in your day can you find your sense of calm?

Now that we have some intention in our careers, what’s one word that brings you back to that clarity? When you are feeling stressed at work or overwhelmed by career decisions, you can find your calm by focusing on that word.

3. Engage with your breath, Pranayama.

I like to practice deep breathing. Why? It is intentional and integrates mindfulness. This is a process of deep inhalation followed by deep exhalation, sometimes pausing in between, eyes closed, allowing to feel the breath move to the belly, then to the lungs, within and out.

This has been the most powerful tool I have come to find.

What is powerful about the breath is that it can be practiced strengthening the mind! The breath opens spaces in our capacity to stretch a bit longer and allow our mind to stay focused on the current pose. What a great practice to integrate literally and figuratively.

Challenge yourself to take a pause throughout the day. Taking just 5 deep breaths throughout the day will help you keep focus and will re-energize you for your work.

4. Don’t be afraid of the challenge poses.

What is unique about yoga is that you have what can be a demanding physical practice. Especially if it is taught in a heated room. Most often you find yourself trying to keep pace with fellow yogis that surround you. I truly enjoy when I find myself in sync with the others next to me and can keep the “flow” and breath moving together. Holding each other accountable to follow and finish the flow as one.

What counters this is that yoga is very individualized.

Your body may need to lay flat on the mat while the class continues to move through poses. Challenge yourself but also know your limitations. Challenge yourself to try something new in your career. Think big and outside of the box to deliver a wild idea or create time to work on a project in your current role that would allow you to flex more creativity or ownership.

I challenge you to set aside any doubts and push yourself outside of your current comfort zone.

5. Radical Acceptance.

When I fall in yoga, I often laugh it off and try again. That makes it easier to transition into the next pose, or better yet into the gentle, loving “child’s pose” where you literally fold over yourself to ground in to the earth and let go. No judgment for falling or for not being able to move into a “challenge” pose. I may laugh to accept embarrassment, but when I think back to my most embarrassing stumbles in yoga, I have embraced self-acceptance of a good laugh and know nothing worth doing is ever easy!

What a great reminder that nothing always goes as planned.

Isn’t that true of our careers as well? Whether we are job-hunting or expanding our network, there may be some stumbles along the way. We may not hear back from a job we thought we had in the bag or became stuck in an industry that was not meant to be, whatever the case, we can accept what was and change what is.  

When you stumble, try not to dwell on it. Focus on the lesson you learned and how you’ll shift your approach for the future.

6. Tune in so you can clear the clutter.

What is the inner dialogue that keeps surfacing? We all have the inner voice telling us to do this or that. This continuous clutter that is difficult to turn off. When practicing yoga, most people choose to focus on the physical or meditative dynamic yoga offers. Circle back to the importance of finding your calm. You are essentially gifting yourself solace in the over-stimulated world we live in. Tuning in with your intention and breath, allowing thoughts to come and pass, offers awareness to your thoughts. This can help you gain further clarity as you focus on your breath and let the mental stress go.

Wherever you are right at this moment, yoga meets you exactly where you are.

If you are feeling intimidated by what’s happening around you, tune inward. Focus on your own strengths and let them guide your decisions and actions.

The purpose of sharing these yoga techniques is to also share the integration of holistic practices in your life. How do you define the core of your well-being? Is it having a defined career path, sense of purpose in your career and life? Everything is interconnected and complex.

Integration between yoga and your career can be the practice of finding what works in one area and spreading that to another area of your life. This chould be practicing calmness, breathing with intention, or acting with loving-kindness toward your next career transition. The focus yoga provides can access the core of who we are and how we want to show up in our career. Every aspect of ourselves can be integrated with these self-awareness techniques. Whether that is on the job, looking for a career direction, establishing goals to transition into a new career or finding upward movement in our current career.   

Cheers to finding your inner yogi, breath, calmness, and your purpose on and off the yoga mat.

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