How to find the golden mean between yoga and business

My work is related to management and I practice yoga including I made my first money when I was 10 years old, and I opened my first psychology book when I was 13. So in this life I was introduced to business before I was exposed to internal practices.

At the age of 28, I was the head of the representative office of a small international company, having worked my way up from department head to general director. I was the youngest and, apparently, the most ambitious employee in the company. Oh. At 29, as a hired director, I was building another company from scratch. I got a classical (western) management education, got an MBA. Now I’m still working in a managerial position in the top management of one of the Russian companies.

What is my point?

Because people management, politics, sales, business processes, projects, meetings, budgets, reports, regulations, business trips – this is an integral part of my life. I am writing these lines sitting on the sofa of my rented apartment in St. Petersburg, after a full working day, where I spend 50% of my time working on a rotational schedule. Tomorrow I get up at 5, take a morning yoga class, do some pranayama, and head to the office.

Sometimes I have enough energy and desire to practice concentration and pranayama, especially if it’s the first days of a business trip. Occasionally the OM mantra in the evening. At the end of the week the energy load is noticeably on your shoulders and the practice is not easy, you have to force yourself. Then recovery days and off we go again. The further along the path of self-development, the more noticeable is the contrast in the feeling of peace after the practice and after the office day.

Such a regimen seems hard, and it is, but praise the Gods that the work on the inner world has never stopped and the tricks of the mind become more and more visible. To find the golden mean, I strive not to separate yoga and social life. On the contrary, I try to bring reasonableness and adequacy into the daily work processes. Not separating life into yoga and work is the first step to the harmonious development of a beginner yogi in the social world. I consider office work as a manifestation of Karma yoga, i.e. service. I take responsibility for my duties, I try not to be attached to the results, I learn not to wait for praise or condemnation.

Another step to the golden mean between yoga and business is to work with energy and my mind throughout the day. Here are some practical observations on how yoga helps in social life and business.

Adequate questioning of one’s own thoughts and understanding the concept of Chitta Vritta Nirodhi allows one to look more soberly at the events going on around him. Inevitable difficulties in business begin to be perceived more calmly, as manifestation of karma, which should be lived by realizing their shortcomings and kleshas. With this perception of reality, there is no longer a need to look for causes in the outer world, but you begin to focus on your own kleshas. Problems begin to be viewed not only from a negative angle, but also as stepping stones for self-development.

Vanity and ego, like poison, poison the personality. Praise from superiors, ingratiation of subordinates, and success in projects are the perfect breeding ground for egoism. Egocentrism, in turn, locks a person in on himself, he becomes less sensitive to the events and people around him. Eventually his behavior becomes inadequate and ineffective to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. In contrast, the manifestation of altruism, as practiced by yogis, makes one more effective in daily tasks.

The desire to share knowledge with co-workers, to make work ultimately not dependent on you, to not be attached to the result is a manifestation of karma yoga, the yoga of service. From time to time an employee locks in work processes, making his or her role in the company indispensable. In the long run it leads to degradation of both the company and the person. So encouraging subordinates to hand out knowledge is a way to help them develop altruism, work through the manipura (even though they don’t know it) and generally make the company more efficient.

young handsome business man in black suit and tie practice yoga and relax at network server room while representing stres control concept

I have noticed that the chakra system aligns very well with the classic Maslow pyramid (motivating people according to their level of satisfaction of their needs) that managers are so fond of remembering. More precisely, Maslow’s pyramid can be perceived as a very simplified model of people’s needs, depending on their level of energy. This holistic perception of one’s peers allows one to build relationships more effectively, to understand a person’s strengths and weaknesses. In general, I was surprised to find exceptional similarities between classical Western tools for managing people in management and explanations of how energy exchange occurs in terms of yogic practice. For me, this was an argument confirming the truthfulness of the words of the ancient texts, as they are much more ancient and voluminous, and the modern concepts of psychology are only small and private interpretations of them.

Developing concentration through the practice of Pratyahara and Dharana allows you to focus your attention on the projects at hand, making your work more efficient and faster. An important skill!

A couple more observations.

The practice of Apirahraha in business allows you to focus more on those projects that can benefit the community by rejecting blatantly speculative ventures and dishonest deals (Asteya, Satya). Some Western companies, such as Toyota, focus on long-term solutions, even if they cause short-term financial damage (Tao of Toyota, Principle #1).

In all likelihood, the practicing yogi is the only one in the office who doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t drink, and doesn’t stay long at corporate functions. It’s good if this yogi is a boss who enjoys authority, otherwise a lot of stamina will be required in the face of peer pressure. On the other hand, for a yogi, such an environment is good practice in patience.

In general, doing business with an eye on Yama and Niyama makes for a more “eco-friendly” work environment. Nevertheless, no matter how conscious a business is, it still carries karmic consequences. So let’s talk about the difficulty of combining yoga and business.

Any sattvic state is heavily slabbed after active interaction in the society. Foreign thoughts, emotions, desires and various tamasic states appear. The more you progress along the path, the more the contrast becomes apparent. It happens so that you practice meditation and ascesis in Hatha Yoga in the morning and go to work elated, but at the end of the day you fall into a small swamp of energy. It takes willpower to get it together, process it, and move on.