I lay in the heat-thickened room, my muscles easing and falling limp against the floor mat. Deep breaths of sauna-like air lightly sear the back of my throat. My lungs expand fully, leaving no room for tension, stress, or hunger pangs. The instructor enters the hot yoga room and the cool whip of wind from the door is a welcome relief. A few beads of sweat form on my forehead and tickle the bridge of my nose as they roll down. It is time to begin practice, and we each ground ourselves with our toes and heels together at the front of the mats.
Moving to the hypnotic flow of instruction and encouragement coming from the front of the room, my body twists, stretches, and expands beyond its normal capability. Each new position poses a new obstacle to overcome, challenging norms such as gravity, space, time, and energy, generating a new puzzle to solve.
At the same time that the instructor accepts us and our body’s limitations unconditionally, she quietly pushes us further with visual words. At once exhausted and alive, I can feel how badly my body needs these stretches due to all of the sitting it has endured. Yet as I move through the motions, sink into the postures, and stretch myself physically, my mind becomes oddly aware of the financial life lessons being learned in this room. A wide smile breaks open across my face, and as I slip into downward dog towards the end of the session I cannot help but want to whip out my laptop, sit some more, and write down all of the ways in which my yoga class can teach others about reaching their financial goals.
Yoga Lessons to Help You Reach Your Financial Goals
- Visualize Where You are Going: Some poses are so complicated or difficult that you spend years perfecting other poses just in preparation. It is helpful during these times to know where it is you are heading to. Perhaps your body will never make a “T” in dancer’s pose, but without knowing what the pose is supposed to look like, you will never make it there either. Visualize where you are going, then challenge yourself to move just one step closer.
- Intensify Efforts in Short Bursts: Endurance will typically win the race, but short bursts of intensified efforts will help you reach your financial goal faster. It will also give you small wins along the way so that you have the motivation to continue on. In the last few moments of your timed effort, stretch yourself further, expand yourself more, and give that extra oomph. By continually challenging yourself you will grow beyond what you could ever have before.
- Do Not Look at Your Neighbor in Envy: Our bodies are not cut from the same cloth; some people can beautifully balance themselves in tree pose but flounder in camel pose. Do not look around the yoga room while in position and be envious of where others are in their poses. Do not look at others’ finances or perceived financial states and become envious. We are all on our own paths, and we are all exactly where we were meant to be.
- Be Gentle to Yourself: After we reach the age of 10 or so it becomes completely odd to ever fall or lose one’s balance. In yoga, it is typical to wobble, shake, and yes, every now and then someone falls. Be gentle with yourself during these times and be forgiving. No matter what everyone else is doing, you get up and get back into the pose.
- Be Willing to Do What Others Will Not: There are poses where you will stand on your head, ones that will twist your legs into pretzels, and even one where you put your palms underneath your heels and hug your stomach to your thighs while stretching out your hamstrings. In the course of your day or week you will not likely ever encounter other people in these poses. This is one thing I love about yoga—a space to act younger than ourselves, to engage our bodies, and to tumble along (a rarity in adult world). Take note that when you are doing what others will not, you are probably headed in the right direction.
- When Stretched Too Thin, Center Yourself: Child’s pose is my all time favorite. It is what I turn to if I have overextended myself during practice, lost my breath, and need a few moments to re-center myself and gather more strength. Find your own “child’s pose”, and center yourself when you and your financial resources are stretched too thin. When you feel refreshed, come back to your journey towards your goal.
Any other yogis or yoginis out there? Have you ever gleaned financial lessons from your practice?