Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 23, 2011

Discipline Yourself for Success

Deni Roman

Deni Roman

What do yoga and leadership have in common? To be effective, both yoga and leadership require us to go on an inward journey of discovery. Both require self- observation and self-discipline and both can be aided by feedback from teachers or mentors.

People often take on leadership roles or begin practicing yoga with an outward focus. Yoga has many health benefits and is an important outlet for releasing stress, increasing energy, and maintaining flexibility.  The practice of yoga for the sake of health is the external practice of yoga.

This outward focus is also evident when we first become leaders. Our work typically involves leading or managing other people or projects. The focus is “out there”. We spend little time reflecting on who we are or how we show up.  

But, truth be told, you can’t be a good leader unless you know who you are:

  • your values
  •  how your past influences your actions today
  •  what triggers you
  •  what your purpose is
  •  what your strengths and weaknesses are etc. etc.

And you can’t be a good leader without realizing the impact that you have on both yourself and on others.

Becoming great at both yoga and leadership requires a turning inward and a letting go of fear. This is the fear of self discovery.

This past weekend I attended a three day Iyengar yoga retreat in Vancouver. I was apprehensive at first. Like many people who practice yoga I am used to classes that are sixty or ninety minutes long.

What would we do for three whole days?  Would I be up for the challenge?  

Our instructor, Deni Roman, has been teaching body, mind and spirit cultivation for over 30 yeas. She studies at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India.

Through-out the weekend we received precise instruction on yoga poses, breathing, and relaxation. It took a lot of discipline and concentration to hold some of the poses in the correct way. Sometimes it took discipline to stay in the pose when it became uncomfortable and concentration to focus on holding the poses correctly to prevent injuries.

Without this discipline and mindfulness I would not have received the full benefit of Deni’s instruction.

“The ultimate purpose of yoga is to train the mind, and this is accomplished by practicing attentively. Observing the details of alignment, breath and state of mind, we cultivate intelligence and discernment. These qualities are then available to help us in all aspects of living.” Deni Roman

Why don’t we approach our roles as leaders in the same way? All of us are leaders at some time during the day either at home, at work or elsewhere in our communities.

How would our homes, our workplaces and our communities benefit if we applied the discipline of yoga to our leadership responsibilities?

Here are some final words from Deni:

“Look at your practice and observe the balance of these four qualities. Is your yoga (leadership) ongoing, sincere and alert? Are you prepared to stay with it through the changing seasons over the passage of time? Through steady, dedicated and attentive practice, over a long period, yoga (leadership) fulfills its promise of bringing joy and freedom.”

Was I up for the challenge? Yes! With the help of Deni, her daughter Evan, and the other students at the retreat, I tested my limits and emerged from the weekend feeling stronger, more relaxed and with a whole new appreciation of who I am and what I am capable of.

Namaste, Lesley

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