Most people know yoga as ‘exercise’ for the body, but its exercise for the mind and spirit too. The term ‘asana’ which means ‘pose’ is only one of eight limbs of yoga. These eight limbs are described as ‘an ethical blueprint for living the good life’, and include values like honesty, speaking our truth, contentment, purity of mind and non-violence of action, words and thoughts.
In the midst of challenging world issues that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are attempting to fix, these are the values that are needed to create a more conscious form of capitalism.
There are three reasons why business needs yoga:
Stress is biggest killer of our time, the greatest cause of absenteeism from the workplace, it leads to depression and burnout and costs the European economy £77bn a year according to research. Stress takes a lot of energy, and yoga has the potential to help restore this energy, creating resilience and strength of mind and body. New yoga science is emerging which shows that yoga practice deactivates our flight or fight mode and reduces our stress hormone cortisol and helps battle anxiety. Corporates should ensure yoga is part of their wellbeing programmes. If gym membership is now a standard offer, why not yoga too to really invest in long term health of employees?
We need innovative thinking to solve the world’s problems – it’s clear our system isn’t delivering all we need to thrive as a society. The solutions of yesterday cannot solve the problems of today. And we’ve got some monster ones – again, just look at the UN SDGs. They give us a clear direction on the kind of society we want by 2030 and sets us on a purposeful path to achieve it. The 17 SDGs address topics such as reducing poverty, ending inequality, generating economic growth for all, protecting life on land and in water and so on. Business can and should solve these problems and are being requested to do so by stakeholders, citizens, governments and civil society. Perhaps some yoga and meditation can unlock this innovative thinking and develop mind clarity.
‘The Good Life’
We can all learn from the yogic yamas & niyamas which are essentially about having principles and values by which to live your life: honesty, compassion, not stealing (including ideas, words), and a really important one, contentment. These values help us define what is important in life. We seem to always be striving for more more more, goal planning, performance reviews, what’s next, what’s happening over here, having FOMO (Fear of missing out), wanting more stuff, measuring success financially….’constantly striving, never arriving’. Values like empathy, kindness, patience, and acceptance are underrated these days and we must restore them in the business world to transform it to one that’s serves not takes from society
I see yoga and meditation as a tool to create more enlightened businesses especially through leadership. Stress impacts not just our health but our cognition. Our business leaders are making important decisions every day and they need to be the right ones with a holistic perspective – not stressed out affected by tunnel vision. There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support this. Through regular practice of yoga, the whole of yoga; from the principles to the physical to the meditation, we can learn to alleviate stress, think in a different way and be better humans essentially. And therefore this lead us to a more compassionate, humane, conscious, and sustainable form of capitalism.
Author: Nicola Ruane
The full blog was first published on the Huffington Post