May 23rd, 2014
How Embracing Yoga Helped My Career
Boom. There I was, slamming into it like a brick wall – the career slump. My career slump caught me completely off guard as I am very early on into my career, working in a field that is actually related to what I studied in college and feeling comfortable and secure at work. Why I was feeling so down and so frustrated all of the sudden, I wasn’t 100% certain, but I knew I had to do something to combat it… Enter yoga. Now, I used to do a bit of yoga in college and every once in a while I would make it to a vinyasa class taught at my local gym, but I hadn’t put my feet on the mat in a long time. When someone close to me recommended I go back, I found a studio close to my work, planned out a weekly schedule for myself & gave it a shot.
Honestly, it felt good at first – really good – and the more I went, the better I felt. The personal and professional stressors weighing me down felt a little lighter as I attended each session. I can honestly and thankfully say that yoga helped my career. Here are three things I’ve learned amidst the sun salutations, vinyasa flows and viparita karanis:
1. Just breathe.
The number one way yoga helped my career was by teaching me how to breathe. You may be wondering what I mean by that, as breathing is technically an involuntary thing that our bodies just do, but in yoga, ujjayi breaths – or ocean breaths for non-yogis out there – are vital. These deep breaths in and out of the nose not only calm the body, but they calm the mind. On days where I would sit at my desk and start to feel the stress rise in my chest, I would simply breathe in deep and let it out. It was my personal way to check myself before I had a meltdown, thus allowing me to keep my cool instead of letting frustration rear its ugly head.
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2. Be grateful.
Yoga is a very grateful practice helping individuals pursue a grateful heart. Grateful hearts can affect self-worth, health, coping skills and overall happiness in positive ways and there are studies to prove it. As I practiced more, I started to think about what I was truly grateful for and why. Even though a last-minute assignment may hit a nerve with me from time to time, I think about how grateful I am for my job, the opportunities I’ve been given in life and the people who helped me get here. Taking a moment out of my day to think about what I am grateful for really helps me set the tone for the rest of my day and positively influences how I would handle or respond to anything that came across my desk.
3. Keep going & keep growing.
Yoga helped my career by consistently reminding me to just keep going and stop comparing myself to the other guy. I know that sounds extremely cliché, but I’m speaking from experience here! As mentioned before, I’ve been going to yoga on and off for a few years now, and at almost every class, there was always a super yogi there – you know the ones who are essentially just human pretzels? – making the difficult moves look like a cakewalk. Crow? No problem. Tripod headstand? Easy peasy. Bird of Paradise? Just say the word & they’re there. I sat there, in the absolute smallest expression of these poses only wishing that I could be half as bendy as Auntie Anne in the front row… Which was exactly my problem.
One of my yoga instructors stressed to us that just because the person on the mat next to us had something down pat didn’t mean anything. Yoga is your practice, and while the person next to you can motivate you to continue, they should not be the point of envy; they should instead the point of inspiration. Now when I look at my coworkers, I do not look at them with envious eyes. Instead, many of them are now my sources of inspiration and motivate me to continue to learn, grow and become a better professional.
While yoga may not be an activity for you, I hope my story about how yoga helped my career is helpful for yours, too. While the career slump is never easy to deal with, it is absolutely possible to overcome.
…Oh, and as for that crow pose – I finally nailed it.