Managing a Career Change: Takeaways from Yoga

I attended a 2-day Iyengar Yoga workshop several weeks ago. Although I have been going to yoga classes for several years, I’ve never been to a yoga workshop. I didn’t know what to expect, but I suspected the instructor would focus on individual posture corrections. Yet, her opening of the class caught me by surprise.

Teacher: “Why are you doing yoga?” (she is small, but she has a formidable presence with an authoritative voice. All of us are immediately intimidated by her.)

Student A: “Flexibility.”

Student B: “Improve my health, vitality, and energy.”

Student C: “Balance.”

Teacher: “These are not wrong, but they are only the benefits of doing yoga. You still have not answered why.” (Ok, what is she really looking for?)

Me: “I do yoga because I feel great after (she cut me off before I finished)….. the class.”

Teacher: “Ok, I am not asking you how you feel AFTER yoga. I am asking you how you feel while you are DOING it?”

Me: “I don’t enjoy it very much during yoga classes… Deep muscle stretches and doing postures correctly requires a lot of work. There is a lot of struggling and frustration. Not much fun.” (OK, too honest about how I feel.)

Teacher: “That defeats the purpose of yoga. [Tweet “You should do yoga for ‘JOY’, that is the purpose of yoga.”] It should give you joy and happiness while you are doing it, not afterward.” (Really? Joy, while I am doing yoga? That never happens.)

Me: “But it’s hard to enjoy it when I am pushing (Ok, she cut me off again)…..myself.”

Teacher: “See the word you are using “pushing”?! Yoga is not about pushing… The word takes all the joy out of Yoga. Don’t use that word.” (She is right. That word does suck the happiness out of the air.)

Teacher: “Yes, you need to make progress and focus on instructions (she avoids the word, ‘push.’). Once you follow the instruction and get to the place you want to be, you should enjoy it. Being in a posture is to enjoy it. If you enjoy the posture, you won’t be constantly focusing on when your instructor will say ‘stop’.” (We all laugh. That’s exactly what we are all thinking when we are in posture, is when we can get out of the posture. Very true!)

Wow! What a concept!

Being in a posture is to enjoy it. I focus so much on doing postures right and pushing (Ok, I use this word to illustrate my point) myself, I lose the sight of the joy of being calm and in that moment. The past three months have been incredibly stressful for me. I took on two consulting projects and many writing and speaking invitations, which required immediate attention.

At the same time, I have been brainstorming an online course/seminar business model with a friend, trying out and setting up various tools for my business and testing different platforms and technologies for promotions. Tedious tasks, trials-and-errors, long hours and endless follow-ups overwhelm me. I started to feel depressed and wondered if I made a mistake in leaving the corporate world. For anyone who is making a career change, this emotional swing is very typical. Heck, that emotional swing also applies to people who are in the daily grind of their regular jobs.

I decided to bring joy to my daily non-stop tasks…

When I was frustrated at talking to the support desk about setting up new accounting software, I thought of the joy I will have recording receipts and issuing invoices from my phone when I get this software set up. Now, I can record my expenses the minute I incur them! When I was coordinating speaker logistics and communications for one of my consulting projects, I thought of the joy of meeting them at the event. Of course, getting paid is a joy, too! When I was having writer’s block and the deadline was less than 5 hours away, I thought of the joy of taking a nap.

Rather than banging my head against a wall, I banged it against my pillow, I took a short nap. Yes, I did get up and write the blog post in time. If we look back at our lives, we, mysteriously, managed through the challenges we thought were difficult. Sooner or later, we will plow through them. Rather than getting stressed out or overwhelmed, why not enjoy it while we are going through it?

Find the glimmer of joy in everything you do. To be in a posture is to enjoy it.
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