As a wellness-focused entrepreneur, people ask me all the time why I decided to open a yoga business. My answer is simple: I was so inspired by how my yoga practice transformed me as a human being that I had to share it with the world! I knew that business was my platform to do this.
Five years into my entrepreneurial journey of creating a company with the mission “to inspire happy, healthy lives,” I’ve realized that who I am as a leader is a direct result of my yoga and meditation experience.
My business degree, of course, sparked an interest in business, my parents cultivated my interest in entrepreneurship and EO supports me in my leadership journey. But I believe what really makes me stand out as a leader is what I’ve learned on my yoga mat.
Here are some ways yoga and meditation guide me as an entrepreneur, leader and person:
Some of my greatest yoga teachings have transformed into the core values of my business, namely: practice gratitude. I experienced the power of gratitude through my yoga practice—being grateful for my ability to breathe and connect with myself—and the positive ripple effects of that gratitude.
This became so fundamental to me that I turned it into a core value of my business. Now I get to watch the power of gratitude within my organization. I see my team personally thank our guests, leave messages for one another on our “love board” and express gratitude to each other for support. Powerful stuff.
Through meditating almost every day, I am learning how to truly listen. And to care. The very nature of meditation teaches you how to tune in and listen to yourself. No easy feat in the era of the iPhone—why tune in when you can completely tune out? As leaders, we too often seek outside influences to form our opinions, make our decisions and validate our ideas.
What meditation has taught me is that everything I need to know is already inside of me, and it has given me the time and space to stop, breathe, contemplate, listen and just be.
Yoga and meditation teach me how to be in the moment, fully, rather than being elsewhere— thinking about an email, the next team meeting, my to-do action list, etc. If I’m not in the moment, I run the risk of ignoring an employee who has a great idea or pretending to care when a customer is talking.
Being mindful of how I show up as a leader and the needs of every guest who comes through my door is integral to the success of my business. We only have this moment.
Learning how to observe my thoughts, and watch my reaction to these thoughts, has been helpful in business. It makes me realize that sometimes they are just my thoughts, not the way things necessarily “are.” As entrepreneurs, we all make up stories in our heads about our businesses and employees. This helps me clear the head trash.
Ultimately, yoga has taught me that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Business, guests, team, myself, family, planet. We are all connected, and we are the reason for each other. This has opened my mind as a leader to better leverage, honor and be of service to my community.
I use these tools and lessons learned on the mat in business every day. They help me manage the chaos of being an entrepreneur: When someone says I can’t do it, when I think I can’t do it, when I’m continually interrupted, when hiring, when firing, when I’m uninspired, when I’m neglecting my team, when I’m neglecting my family, when we have a huge win, when I can’t sleep at night.
Yoga and meditation are who I am, and they’re practices that don’t stop on the mat. I believe in the power of yoga and meditation to inspire entrepreneurs and empower us to be present and compassionate leaders and human beings. Be open to the possibilities¦.
Christine Russell is the co-founder and CEO of 889 Yoga + Wellness Spa and a member of the Toronto chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
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