Most of us have heard that yoga is good for us, and that it even has some amazing benefits for people experiencing disease and pain – but what about yoga and leadership?
This is an exciting new area of study, with early indications backing up what many have already suspected: regular yoga can enhance our leadership practice!
So what is yoga?
Yoga is a form of mind/body exercise, which combines physical postures with elements of mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques.
Originating in India about three thousand years ago, the word ‘Yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit ‘Yuj’, which means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’. It’s a way of uniting body, mind and soul, and over the last five decades has become incredibly popular here in the west.
As a form of physical exercise, yoga helps to improve balance and flexibility as well as building core muscle strength, ideal for reducing the aches and pains that often accompany growing older.
The Benefits of Yoga
Studies have also shown that yoga is great for:
reducing chronic pain;
minimising depression, anxiety and stress;
boosting the immune system;
and fighting against lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and substance abuse.
These days, yoga is often utilised as a complementary therapy for those with serious health conditions such as cancer, as it has been shown to promote healing, increase energy, decrease adverse treatment effects, and enhance quality of life.
Yoga and Leadership: New Possibilities
But in addition to supporting mental health and wellbeing, it seems yoga may have much to offer those in leadership as well.
Concepts associated with authentic leadership – such as self-awareness, being present, compassion, and managing stress – are central to both yoga and leadership education.
While research into yoga and leadership is very much in its infancy, there are many conclusions that may be drawn from existing studies. For example, we know that regular yoga practice helps with improving sleep and energy levels. While a great benefit for any human being, how much more so for those in leadership!
Build Your Brain Power!
Yoga has a positive effect on the structure and/or function of various areas of the brain and its networks – and who doesn’t want to be a more ‘switched on’ leader? The positive effects on cognitive function include:
better concentration and focus;
greater speed and accuracy of working memory;
improved ability to learn and retain new information;
enhanced problem solving;
and better information recall.
As leaders, we frequently find ourselves in different situations where we need to be able to focus and be intentional – and yoga prepares us for that.
There are so many great benefits of yoga for anybody in a position of leadership – and by extension, to their organisation, employees, family, and society as a whole.
So do I, as an executive leadership coach, include yoga into my daily routine? You bet I do! And if you haven’t embraced yoga as part of your leadership practice, I encourage you to give it a try and discover the many benefits for yourself!
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Sources (viewed 24.02.21):