For entrepreneurs and anyone working towards success, the busy life of anyone in business leaves little time for other necessary activities like taking care of yourself and exercising. Many define success as simply happiness and good health, which, when you get past everything monetary, is so true. That’s why yoga is perfect for forward thinking business types.
Now, most people typically know yoga as an exercise targeted mostly at women. While there is a stigma for men in yoga, the real facts are that it’s a great exercise for all genders and great health is worth far more than tight yoga pants and pride. While it only takes one to two hours a day, practicing yoga is relaxing, clarifying, intense and productive.
Yoga is a workout that is both physical and philosophical, training muscles and the mind in the most efficient way possible while also promoting core values that are useful in the world of entrepreneurs and business. With the multi-billion dollar yoga industry being more commercialized than ever, nobody has an excuse not to even just give it a try. We gathered a list of ten ways yoga can teach you to be a healthier entrepreneur and a better person.
Okay, so guys doing yoga isn’t exactly the norm, but once they swallow their masculine pride they really can get a great workout from it, even if they’re a bodybuilder. In a Huffington Post blog, certified personal trainer, health coach and yoga instructor Quentin Vennie explains that yoga enhances, “the aesthetic of your physique, while increasing your range of motion and flexibility… it actually enables you to lift heavier weights.” Holding the poses in yoga lasts longer than traditional exercises which “causes your muscles to have isometric contractions which increases your overall muscular endurance.” So, unless you are going for some “meathead entrepreneur” look, yoga is a great way to lose some fat, tone up muscle all over the body, and increase your stamina.
Whether it’s the calming stretches or the fact that you are off your devices for an hour a day, practicing yoga is proven to lower stress levels. According to a 2010 Boston University study, a few months of yoga increases gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels in the brain which are crucial to preventing depression and anxiety. If other startups are getting bought up for billions of dollars all around you, just do some yoga.
Bikram Yoga, the form of yoga you practice in a 105°F room for 90 minutes, promotes flexibility all over the body. A recent Colorado State University study found that Bikram yoga increases flexibility in the shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings as well as increases deadlift strength when tested against the control group. Because of the calming and introspective teachings of yoga, responding to changing markets and challenging situations in business may become easier as you grow more mentally flexible than life’s variables.
Practicing yoga for only 20 minutes a day can improve cognitive function, working memory, and focus. A University of Illinois study found that participants performed significantly better on brain function tests after a 20 minute yoga session than after 20 minutes of a vigorous aerobic exercise. This makes yoga a perfect morning exercise to get you going early.
A key point in yoga is finding balance, physically but also within ourselves. In yoga, you work towards achieving stillness by balancing a stable pose in the easiest way possible. In business, we seek the balance between growth and profit in the most efficient or cost effective way possible. In practicing yoga, we can learn to be sensitive to all opposing forces in any scenario through practice and testing. Over time, you become open minded to finding the easiest or newest ways to solve problems and find real balance.
Because one of the core facets of yoga is mental and physical concentration, both women and men stand to learn a few things about control, especially when it comes to sex. While we know now that sex improves cognitive function, a Harvard study published in the The Journal of Sexual Medicine explained how yoga boosted general sexual satisfaction for women. For men, learning to concentrate and maintain control of the body during sex can lead to better performance in the bedroom.
No, not your eyesight, but your vision in business. The goals of a successful entrepreneur require a master plan or an ultimate vision. Stanton Kawer, the CEO of Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide spoke to Forbes about how the practices of yoga helped him clarify the business goals he wanted to set for his company. “My teacher always says that my practice “should never be a blur.” That is also true for the daily activity of a CEO. We can only realize our vision if we pay attention to our intentions.” Sometimes it takes a self-reflecting activity like yoga to really learn what you want and need in business in order to achieve it through solid planning.
While yoga itself helps to get rid of stress, the breathing exercises can help you find relaxation throughout the day and beyond the studio. Scott Rodwin, founder of Radiance Yoga, explained to Men’s Fitness that breathing exercises, called pranayama, have been developed over thousands of years to help calm and focus the mind through each yoga pose. Finding that happy place during long days in the office cooped up at a desk might save your life one day.
In the same way that a business shark sets their eyes on a goal and never looks away from it, yoga teaches the same discipline and concentration. Stanton Kawer told Forbes, “It requires self-discipline and focus. We are surrounded by other sweaty, heavy-breathing and sometimes falling students. Yet we cannot lose our drishti, our gazing point, because yoga, like business, will render us unstable if we are distracted.” Yoga teaches that working towards real success takes real discipline.
At the end of each session of yoga, the teacher, with hands together and head bowed, usually says “namaste,” to which the students reply the same way. It’s what the word means that can teach you a humbling respect. It’s a word that means more than “thank you.” Saying it means you acknowledge everything that is good and valuable in the person you say it to. While it follows along respect and compassion, acknowledging those you work with in the same way can speak mountains about your character. Whether you work under or over them, bringing positivity and praise into business settings can only help you.