After the celebration of International Yoga Day a few weeks back, I thought it only fitting to cover the topic in this column. After all, it's no secret, we need to be fit to be at our best. It leads to better thinking, improves our ability to manage stress, and enhances our confidence. Unfortunately, as leaders, our personal fitness can be the first thing to go as the challenges of running the business overwhelm and consume our every moment. Don't let it happen to you.
When my time is limited, I like to do this yoga sequence and meditation routine. Not only does it help me to stay in shape, I tie each exercise to an aspect of my leadership responsibility. By thinking about exercise this way, I don't feel so guilty about making the time to do the workout.
The routine, with an associated meditation on leadership, is defined below. Before I outline the routine, please note that I like to perform the following Vinyasa Sequence at the start of each pose: Stand straight, shoulders back. Take a deep breath. Raise hands over head. Bend at the waist. Touch toes. Move to push-up position. While keeping arms in push-up position, lower upper legs to the floor. Move to pose. This Vinyasa Sequence is optional. But it provides a nice flow to the routine and it can be used to clear the mind as you move from one pose to the next.
It takes only about 15 to 20 minutes to do this routine.
Runner's Pose: Bend over with legs split and front leg bent at 90 degrees. With back leg straight, bring your hands to the inside of your front foot. Hold the pose for a minute or so. Perform Vinyasa and repeat on the other side. Think about where you want to bring your company as you hold each pose.
Horseshoe Pose: After Vinyasa Sequence, move to Runner's Pose. Raise back straight-up with arms extended straight over head. Hold for a minute. Perform Vinyasa and repeat on the other side. As you hold this pose, imagine your company's most perplexing challenges and envision what you will do to overcome them.
Twisting Prayer Pose: After Vinyasa Sequence, move to Runner's Pose again. From here, twist towards lunging leg and rest elbow from opposite arm on top if thigh. Place hands in prayer position and hold. Perform Vinyasa and repeat on the other side. Consider your staff as you hold this pose. Think about the characteristics that you would like them to possess. Ponder what can be done to develop those skills within your team.
Chair Pose: Following the Vinyasa Sequence, stand up straight with feet together and hands clasped in prayer position. Bend at knee to 90 degrees, so that thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold for a minute and ponder the technology and tools that you would like your business to implement and leverage in order to better compete. Rise back up and do your Vinyasa Sequence.
Warrior Three Pose: With feet together, raise hands straight over head. Bend at the waist. Lift right leg off the ground and hold it straight behind you. Your arms, spine, and right leg should now form a straight line parallel to the floor. As you perform this pose, think about your customers. What goods and services can you provide that will keep them coming back for more? Do your Vinyasa and shift your work to the other side.
Boat Pose: This is the last one in the sequence. So make it count. It's great for your core and it's a nice way to close out the meditation. Upon completing your last Vinyasa, rollover into sit position with legs flat on the floor. Lean back with arms straight over head. Keeping legs straight, raise both feet to eye level and hold. Now is a good time to think about nothing but your breathing. Continue to breathe and clear your mind.
This sequence of yoga poses is easy to do and will help you to improve your strength, balance, and flexibility. When you add to it some thoughtful meditation, you may be able to conjure up some great ideas to help your business become more flexible and strong, as well. Give it a try and let me know how you fare.