You don’t have to be able to do a headstand or salute the sun every day to appreciate the benefits of yoga. Now, this isn’t to say that everyone needs to start a daily practice, but it can be helpful to recognise that we can learn a lot from this ancient discipline.
When you practice yoga, you are not only studying the asanas (postures), but you are also honing valuable life skills, such as flexibility, balance and mindfulness. This Thursday, 21st June marks International Yoga Day and is a time to reflect on how yoga is to be lived, not just performed. What you learn on the yoga mat can be applied to several contexts — including your financial situation.
With this in mind, here are 7 tips to help you to achieve a more zen state of mind when it comes to your financial affairs.
1. Set your intentions
Yogis study yoga not just to master a posture, but to use the posture to understand and transform themselves.
Before starting a sequence, many yogis take a moment to connect their minds to their bodies and set an intention — such as ‘relax’, ‘persevere’, ‘accept’ — that they would like to bring into their practice (and life). Doing this brings awareness to what you are seeking, and helps you to direct your energy towards aligning your actions with what you want to achieve. When it comes to your financial situation, being clear of your intentions can help you to commit to achieving what is important to you.
There is no competition in yoga, so it’s important to keep your focus on your own practice and self-development. To do this, it can help to find a focal point on which to rest your gaze in order to gain more stability. As in yoga, find your focal point in your financial life, as this will help you to remain steadfast even during the most challenging times. When you are faced with fears or conflicting options, focus on what you are trying to achieve so that you can stay on track to meeting your goals.
2. Be prepared
In a yoga class, there tends to be a build-up towards the more difficult postures, which come towards the end of a session. Otherwise your body may not be able to do them properly without injury. Firstly, you need to warm up your muscles, and open your hips or stretch your hamstrings, to be prepared for the final, more challenging poses in a sequence. Preparation is an important part of the flow and helps you to progress.
The same applies to your finances. Once you have decided on your long-term financial goals, you can be prepared and work towards them over time.
3. Find your balance
When you assume a posture, you need to find your balance — and this may not always be where you would expect it. For example, rather than centring yourself over your whole foot, it can help to rather shift your balance over your toes or your heel. How you find your balance can subtly change a posture and your attitude towards it.
Balance is also key when it comes to approaching your wealth portfolio. What small changes can you make to readdress your state of affairs and make your financial situation easier to maintain? Don’t be afraid to adjust something to find a better balance, or change any habits that are making you uncomfortable.
4. Be flexible
If you practice yoga regularly, you are likely to become more flexible — both physically and mentally. Saying you are not flexible enough for yoga is like saying you are too dirty to take a bath, and many yogis believe that it is often not the body that is stiff, but the mind.
Increasing flexibility can help to improve your life and your financial situation greatly, as circumstances change and obligations arise, so it’s important to be flexible. If you can adapt your spending habits for the sake of your financial future, you stand to be much more comfortable in the long run. Being financially flexible on even small things, such as how many coffees you buy each week or how many times you eat at a restaurant, can have a notable impact on your overall budget. Work on your flexibility and strength, and you’ll learn to bend so you don’t break.
5. Find your edge
Yoga is a balance of holding on and letting go; control and surrender. During a yoga practice, you are faced with deciding when to push yourself further and when to accept you are at your limit. The pose begins when you want to get out of it, and it’s often a question of breathing through any discomfort to the extent that your body allows. A large part of the process is working out how far you are able to move into a stretch — if you don’t go far enough, you may not progress, but if you go too far without listening to your body, you could end up causing yourself injury. There is a point between these two places where you can find that balance, and that is known as your ‘edge’. The edge is where challenge and acceptance go hand in hand.
From a financial point of view, it’s a matter of finding a balance between your income and expenditure, and how much you spend and save, so that you can strengthen your situation without hurting yourself. Find your edge and push yourself to your limits comfortably.
6. Take care of yourself
Yoga is not just about self-improvement, it’s also about self-acceptance. It is important to release anything that does not serve you and look after yourself so that you can live a healthy and happy life.
By taking care of your financial well-being, you can avoid the stress of being in debt, and ensure you have enough saved for your retirement. A bit of self-care now can help you in the long run.
7. Be mindful
Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment and living in the now. In yoga, holding a posture, or paying attention to how your body moves through a sequence, can help you to remain present.
Mindfulness is a question of self-mastery. The moment your mind turns elsewhere, it’s easy to fall off balance. And focusing your mind can help with your finances too — be that committing to a budget or saving for a goal.
Practice yoga on your finances as often as possible. And don’t forget to breathe...