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Why Are World Leaders Adopting Yoga?

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

The journey of every business is a journey of learning how to be a great leader. Leaders inspire their entire company and show each employee how much is possible. If you’re an insightful leader, you can get more out of yourself and your team every day.

Good leaders always lead by example. When the actions of leaders are in alignment with what they say, they become people that inspire others to want to follow them, and Yoga as a practice has many leadership lessons to teach.

"Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being," as said our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

People used to think that Yoga was for hippies, or only for very flexible 20 something young men and women. However, as a businesswoman in her early 30’s, Yoga has been a foundational part of my life for 2+ years. My experience with Yoga began at the very start of my entrepreneurial journey.

When I made the decision to launch my people development firm and moved on from my comfortable, corporate career of 13 plus years, I knew that it would be a challenging journey ahead. However, what was to come was way beyond my wildest imagination. Working 14 plus hours day after day, in a high-pressure & "stress is normal" environment, I knew I needed to allocate time for self-care.

So, I decided to work out at least 4 days a week in order to feel strong and keep stress at bay. One day I chose what appeared to me as the ‘easy option’ and walked into my first Yoga class. While I wouldn’t say that I loved it (that took a while) but it quickly became something that I depended on for my wellbeing and enjoyed.

Fast forward today, Yoga has become an essential part of my life and is an important component in my journey to personal excellence, leadership lessons, balancing my business, and other social responsibilities. I have experienced massive benefits from adopting Yoga into my lifestyle and realised how significantly it has helped improve my performance.

Leaders across the globe today are adopting and promoting Yoga for the same reasons and here are some of the top lessons we can learn from this ancient Indian practice of physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. 

1. Focus

Focus drives everything, what we focus on, what we put our attention on really determines how we feel about that particular day or our life in general. One of the core benefits of yoga is gaining tremendous focus. Practicing the different yoga postures has a calming influence on the body and the mind. Every pose, from beginner to more advanced, requires your full attention and focus.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a strong believer in yoga. Trudeau likely gets a lot of his yoga guidance from his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who is a hatha yoga instructor. 

A picture of Trudeau balancing on his wrists on a conference table (in what is known as a peacock pose) shows the phenomenal health benefits of practicing yoga.

2. Determination

Not every yoga posture is easy to learn. It takes determination and steady practice to master both beginner’s poses and become an expert at more advanced postures.

Leaders don’t shy away from challenges. They tackle them every day with determination. As a leader, you have the power to create breakthroughs. Great leaders always lead by example. They maintain a clear focus on goals and possess undefeatable determination to create a vision, set goals, and guide others to achievement.

Former UN Secretary, General Ban Ki-moon was a big supporter of establishing International Yoga Day. He has participated in yoga events at the United Nations with his wife, Yoo Soon-taek.

3. Challenges You Every Day

Learning and growing as a leader, requires being comfortable with change. Leaders never stop growing and developing. They have the capacity to keep themselves from falling into a comfort zone and they are life long students.

Former British PM David Cameron and his wife Samantha, have been supporters of Yoga for years. Yoga has also helped in treating the Camerons’ late son Ivan who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Yoga challenges us to overcome our perceived physical and mental boundaries. Consider the scorpion pose, known to be one of the most challenging yoga poses. It resembles the position of a scorpion ready to strike, with your body resting on both forearms and your legs mimicking the scorpion’s tail. This advanced pose that I am yet to master, requires enormous core strength, flexibility, and mental discipline. 

Practicing different yoga postures over the years has taught me to constantly challenge myself, not only in my morning practice but also at work. Yoga has given me the mental strength to successfully manage the challenges of entrepreneurship while staying creative, innovative & focused.

I recommend incorporating yoga into your company culture and employees’ lives as it can improve their mental and physical health. The practice of yoga can help reduce workplace stress and also significantly increase employee productivity and performance.

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