As mentioned in previous posts, we offer regular Serenity Sessions at Social Sugar, as a little perk for the team. They’re regular sessions in which we block out some time in the schedule – either at lunchtime or just after work – to do yoga with a local instructor.
While we started the sessions to foster wellbeing in-house, it’s become apparent, over the past six months, that there are so many ways in which the lessons you learn on the mat can be used in the board room.
Here’s our round-up of what we’ve learnt through months of down dog, cat cow and handstands (not really, but they’re on the wish list) that can be applied to business.
There’s gold in silence
One of our favourite parts of a yoga session is the savasana – the moments at the end of the practice where you’re lying on your mat, letting go of tension and trying to focus solely on the present. The goal at this time is to simply be silent, still and to remain in the moment.
To the uninformed observer, savasana may look like little more than lying down. However, it’s one of the hardest yoga poses to master.
When you start practicing savasana, thoughts try to re-enter your mind like a bettering ram when you’re meant to be merely focussing on your breath and your senses. It takes a good few sessions before you become comfortable with the inactivity of the pose and the reckless abandonment of all your deadlines and to-do lists.
Yet, this still and silent posture has been linked to all sorts of benefits from stress relief and depression respite to lower blood pressure and reduced fatigue.
Learning to embrace silence can be just as beneficial in businesses. With all its boardroom buzzwords and negotiating talk, the business world is a noisy one.
Yet bosses who embrace silence and let their employees and clients speak and lead the conversation have been shown to be more trusted, be better at conflict resolution and have higher levels of employee engagement than those who do not.
Let go of ego
The longer you practice yoga, the more likely you’ll be to hear about The Sutras of Patanjali. Written by Patanjali before 400 AD, this is a collection of 196 proverbs linked to the practice of yoga.
Through the pages of this text, Patanjali identifies five kelshas – poisons that stop a person being able to live the yogic life to its full.
In a nutshell, the kleshas are ignorance, ego, attachment to our desires, repulsion and fear.
During every Social Sugar Serenity session, our teacher reminds us that we need to leave our egos outside the mat. She tells us that we shouldn’t compare our abilities to that of the rest of our team and we shouldn’t expect too much of our own bodies – improvements comes in increments while you’re not noticing.
Letting go of ego is also good practice when it comes to business. Social Sugar operates as a team. Communications, feedback and constructive criticism go in both directions in our business – from the top down, the bottom up and from side to side. No one sees themselves as I. We see each other as us. Without ego in business, the best innovations
In the philosophy of yoga, you’ll find a concept called The Eight Limbs. Following the advice associated with these eight limbs can help yogis improve their practice.
One of the limbs is known as the Yamas and it includes a list of rules to live by if you want to become the best yogi you can be.
One of these yamas is known as Ahimsa. It means non-violence.
On the mat, ahimsa means being gentle on your body and not pushing it beyond its limits. Off the mat it means looking after your physical body, nourishing it with the right foods and giving it plenty of sleep and rest.
In business ahimsa can be applied to the ethics of the way you set up and do business. At Social Sugar we try to give back whenever we can. We team up with charities and involve ourselves in the community. The business world doesn’t have to be one for one. It can be all for all.