What 365 days of yoga taught me about business (no jokes about balance, I promise)
In January 2018, I committed to my all-time favorite yoga teacher’s 30-day “journey.” I’m pretty sure I like her and not just her adorable dog and I don’t just press play on her videos hoping to see his beefy butt, but that’s beside the point.
Every day that month, I dutifully rolled out my gross mat in all its peeling, faded glory and set up my handy yoga blocks within arm’s reach. (Once upon a time, I was actually flexible – in my joints and my thinking, HA! – but those days are long gone. Sure, sure, I can still touch my toes, but I’ll be damned if I can get into a yogic squat…although I’m convinced anatomy plays a major role in my shortcomings here…)
And it was fine. In all fairness, I’d done these 30 days of yoga journeys or challenges or whatever you wanna call them a few times. Okay, I’ve done them every year for about four years since I decided yoga was something I did. Don’t ask me what went in to that decision. Not because I have a weird answer but because I generally don’t know. One day, I became a yogi, that’s all.
Anycrap, after the 30 days were up, I thought, “Well, why not keep going?”
I’d been doing some form of yoga almost daily for a year, maybe two, at that point, and somewhere during that time period I came across the idea of 365 days of yoga. Or #365daysofyoga, in social media speak.
So in February I continued to roll out my disgusting blue mat (the one that’s permanently rolled on the end, which I think means I’m either rolling it wrong or it’s time to chuck it in the recycling bin. Yeah, one of my habits. I like to recycle, and I’m convinced a lot of things should go in the recycling bin. I’m also convinced my friendly neighborhood recycling facility workers would hate me if they met me.).
I’m not about to turn this into some philosophical thing about how I found Dharma (of Dharma and Greg fame…okay, lame yoga joke, but I still laughed) or became so zen I wouldn’t kill all the fruit flies buzzing around my bananas. And it’s not about six-pack abs or buns of steel or reclaiming my long-lost flexibility.
Because no one wants to hear that. Or at least…I don’t wanna hear that.
But it is about something I wasn’t expecting: business lessons learned while anticipating the savasana at the end of every flow. Without further ado, here’s what 365 days of yoga taught me about business. (I’ve resisted any balance cracks thus far, and I promise I will uphold that promise through the remainder of this post…)
Some days you won’t want to show up, but you put your big girl expensive yoga pants on anyway.
I can’t pinpoint the exact day that it happened, but somewhere along the yearlong journey, holy shit balls, doing even five minutes of yoga was painless. Like, it was the last thing I wanted to do…right up there with spending $500 a month on health insurance.
And, yeah, yeah, that tired cliché everyone says about how much better you feel after doing the thing you’re avoiding (especially a workout) is true. But actually getting there is hard as hell.
I have no magic tricks or cure-alls for actually showing up (aside from happy thoughts of feeling better and more accomplished after the fact). All I know is I did it, even on the days I was sick, I was exhausted, I was pissed off and hating life and every chirping bird outside my window.
Running your business is kind of the same. There are days when I’d much rather stay in bed and read all day and not face the world. There are days I wish my computer would spontaneously combust. There are days when I can’t handle one more bullshit online business success story (“All I do is post on social media 12 times a day, and I make seven figures!”).
But the thing about running a business is that you have to RUN it. You have to show up – in some form or another – and DO THE THING. No matter how shitty it feels in the moment.
Surprising lesson? Those are sometimes the days when you kick serious ass and remember why you put those fancy AF yoga pants on in the first place.
Some days you have to follow your gut and do a different flow.
While I just professed that some days you have to just do the damn thing already, there’s also something to be said for allowing yourself flexibility. (Not a balance joke, therefore, it’s allowed.)
In the beginning of my half-baked journey, I was following a monthly calendar. The nice thing about that is I didn’t waste 30 minutes deciding what flow I was going to do that day. The bad thing about that…some days, I didn’t have time (or motivation) to do an hour-long vinyasa flow.
Sometimes, all I wanted was a little bit of a stretch to work out the kinks in my always kinky (not that way) neck. Sometimes, the schedule was all, “Hey, let’s do lots of goddess pose and things to make your thighs burn more than that time you attempted barre class!” and I was all, “Dude, I ran yesterday. Let’s not with working the legs to exhaustion, mmmkay.”
In those moments, I realized the thing I needed to make it through 365 days was listening to myself and my tired body – not blindly following what was being prescribed by someone else entirely apart from my situation.
Sure, rocking out crow pose is cool and everything. But so is lying in corpse pose and just existing for a while. And, yeah, posting on social media can be a boon for some people (the ones who don’t dread it like they dreaded that one class in high school in which they had literally no friends and spent the entire 90 minutes hoping the teacher wouldn’t declare it a group project day…and for those whose people hang out on social media), but so can spending the day knocking out blog posts and emails to your list.
You have to feel in to what’s right that day. You have to pay attention to your energy. There’s no point feeling assed out after a 45-minute sweaty flow to the point where you don’t do anything else for the rest of the day. Just like there’s no point fixating on that one dreaded task and procrastinating all day and accomplishing fuck all.
Some days, it’s all about doing what feels good and being a-okay with that decision.
You might not notice change happening day to day, but all of a sudden, one day, your heels touch the mat in down dog.
There were many days when I questioned just what exactly I thought I was doing. I felt like I wasn’t getting any stronger, any leaner, any limber-er. Actually, I felt like I was regressing sometimes.
But then, suddenly, magically, seemingly out of left field and right in my blind spot, I was doing the thing that had eluded me for so long…straightening my leg in pyramid, getting my leg up to my thigh in tree, flying in crow for even just 3 seconds, feeling my heels ever so softly kiss the mat in down dog.
Instead of wondering when that even happened or what I did differently to deserve such yogic accomplishment, I played it off: “Yeah, I’m a full-fledged yogi now, motherfucker.” (Although, most yogis – the ones decked out in all-white and doing that ooommm thing – would argue that the mere fact I’m celebrating my yoga feats with curse words kicks me right out of the clan on my lycra-clad tushie.)
I’m usually pretty guilty of overanalyzing things. I want to know exactly what happened when (if I can pinpoint it to the exact millisecond that’s obviously preferable) and how I can replicate said thing.
But on this journey I chalked it up to…the journey. I somehow accepted that it was all part of the ride. It was impossible to know at what precise moment my muscles and tendons and joints decided it was time to give in to all my bending and twisting and reaching and stretching.
And – funny thing – the more I just went with the flow (and you thought because I wasn’t going to make balance jokes I would have no material…so wrong, my friend), the more things just happened on their own.
I was playing a role by showing up, but things were happening behind the scenes. Just like in business.
I might not always know what caused A to be successful while B flopped on its flabby ass (although I guess the people who are really into analysis and statistics and all that cause and effect stuff might have a better idea), but I do know that there are things going on, things I’m not seeing, seeds and foundations being planted, that are all building up and growing upon each other that are making shit happen.
Some days you might have to change your schedule and be okay with that.
I’m fairly OCD. I’m not one for too much spontaneity, and when my schedule gets thrown off, I get a little out of whack. (To be fair, when I follow a schedule closely, I get pretty anxious and OCD about that, too…)
Which means I like to do yoga in the morning. It’s part of my morning routine…if I had one of those. It’s not because I like to start my day off with a hefty dose of calm or movement, although I suppose that’s nice. It’s really just because that’s the best place I found to fit it in. Otherwise, it feels like an interruption. (How un-yoga of me, right?)
Yet there are days when a morning yoga session just isn’t going to happen. Usually on Sundays when I want to be lazy. And also on mornings when I wake up after actually having slept for a few hours and I feel sluggish. Oh, and also on days when back-to-back-to-back meetings start at 9 a.m. and I don’t have time for yoga, breakfast, and a shower unless I wake up two hours earlier and that damn well ain’t gonna happen.
Some days, it’s in my control; some days, it’s really not.
And that’s okay. Not every day is the same (Jesus H. Christ, how fucking boring would that be?!?). There are days where everything will go according to plan and run on schedule, and there are days when the plan and the schedule have to be rearranged and massaged and shoved into some semblance of order (square-peg-round-hole style) so I feel even a tiny bit productive.
So…you might say 365 day of yoga taught me to flow with life. (Even I hate myself for that one…)
Daily yoga is another to-do.
I didn’t think this when I first started this whole hair-brained yoga distraction (I’m fairly convinced that’s what it was, except I’m not really sure what it was a distraction from, although I’m pretty sure it has something to do with what I’m getting ready to say…), but daily yoga is a task. A chore. Just another thing to do. At least for me.
And adding to-dos to my to-do list makes me anxious. When I start making a list or setting goals or trying to do anything, honestly, I become just a tiny bit, ummm, obsessed with crossing things off the list and achieving the goals.
I mean, I can barely read a book for pleasure anymore. Despite how much I used to love reading, there’s a part of my lizard/monkey brain that sees it as something I have to do. Oh, you got a book from the library? You HAVE to read that. And the faster you do it, the better.
After a while, daily yoga became another to-do, something I just had to cross off my list. Which, in my opinion, kind of defeated the purpose. Yoga is supposed to be good for anxiety and stress and all that mental health jazz, but what happens when the very thing that’s supposed to be good for you starts becoming not-so-healthy? When it starts to become an obsession, when you feel worse about yourself if you don’t do it, when you feel so stressed out about doing this stress-relieving thing that you find yourself in some sort of weird Groundhog Day loop (sans Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell…and Punxsutawney Phil.)?
I’m still digesting this one and figuring out how to make it make sense for my business. But I’ve learned that adding things to my to-do list makes me a bit batty. I have to find the happy medium where I can outline the things I need to do and want to do without becoming so focused on them that I use my ability to achieve them (or not) as markers of my self-worth.
365 days is a looooong time.
In the grand scheme of life, a year really isn’t that long when we’re living to the ripe ol’ age of 90. But 365 days is still sort of a long time.
And a lot can happen – yoga wise and business wise – in that span of time. I went from chaturanga to face plant then back again a few times. I went from busting out wheel like it ain’t no thang to being in pain (not the hurt-so-good kind) holding pigeon.
I also went from running one business to another and making shit tons of progress in my new business in just one year (less than, if you wanna get technical about it). I booked clients. I made connections. I had opportunities. I pushed myself. I did things I didn’t think I’d do (and things I don’t care to do (or attempt) again – ahem, bird of paradise, it’s not happening.)
But I realized, just a few weeks ago in the spirit of transparency, that 365 days is a lot of days. What was important to me at the beginning of the year wasn’t so important at the end. (Uhhh, that’s my fancy way of saying I unofficially made it to about day 347 before it didn’t become a goal anymore. I knew I could do it – and, if you count meditations and corpse pose, I totally DID do it – but it wasn’t uber important to me anymore.)
And it didn’t feel like a waste. It felt like something I had to take on. Something that I learned from. And something I could let go. That wouldn’t have happened in just a few weeks. I had to give it enough time to understand this self-imposed challenge (or struggle…) just wasn’t worth it for me.
I guess what I’m saying, if I’m trying to sum this up but still not be all motivational poster, is that you have to give things a chance. You have to give them time to work. And you have to give yourself time to make a decision. Some decisions don’t take a whole year, but, damn, your values and what really matters will become super clear sooner or later.
One of the things I got clear on is that doing fancy yoga poses isn’t that important to me. I’m never going to be that girl standing in the middle of a crosswalk in NYC casually striking a handstand. (Is that even safe?!)
But what does matter is this business I’m building and the connections I’m making and the community I hope to create. I’d love for you to be part of it and join in all the swear-y, not-so-wholesome, but oh-so-fun times. I’ll welcome you into the next 365 days (and beyond) with open, still toned from strength training arms.
It’ll be fun, I promise. And this time I don’t promise I won’t make any balance jokes.