International Yoga Day: How Yoga can help cope with the stress of entrepreneurship
Chronic stress and the lack of work-life balance can lead to serious physical and mental ill-health. Practising mindfulness, compassion and Yoga can help achieve a balance.
Not many know the meaning of the word Yog. It means union, specifically that of the mind and the body. We’re often accustomed to looking at the mind-body bond as a feeble one, which is where we go wrong. Entrepreneurship comes with its own set of challenges and the skills needed to be a great entrepreneur begin with the self. Balance and the art of unlearning things are two of many keys to a successful work-life harmony.
As we move ahead, I will address the many challenges of entrepreneurship, modern-day life and co-operation and how these can be solved through Yoga. I speak from personal experience when I say that Yoga can help solve these challenges and create a better working environment for everyone involved.
Let’s address the first challenge that everyone faces, whether it’s entrepreneurs, office goers, students… STRESS. It’s there in everyone’s lives. And in small quantities, stress allows us to grow, be better than what we were yesterday, and allows us to explore the boundaries of our abilities. But that is not the case with chronic stress. Chronic stress is the fallacy that we have to be alert 24/7. This is a common side effect of blurring the lines between our personal and professional lives. Yoga helps us break this chain. It helps us break the vicious cycle of stress, lack of sleep, hormonal imbalance, mood changes, and more stress. Yoga allows the conscious mind to break the patterns of thought and relax willingly as we perform asanas or meditation.
We’ve spoken about the mind, but the mind-body connection we spoke about is so strong that the mind’s stress changes the breathing patterns, which becomes an immediate physical reaction. And this causes several other challenges in the long run. Since Yoga acknowledges the fact that the mind and the body are so deeply connected, the practice allows for both to relax together and hence can prove to be a powerful practice in the modern-day world.
Not to mention several other benefits that one can gain from the practice. Undoing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, managing lifestyle disorders like Hypertension, Diabetes, PCOS and others are possible with consistent practice of Yoga. More than this, Yoga allows for accepting the present as is. It may sound a little philosophical at this point, but when one begins to practise, this feeling arises again and again. You will find that a daily dose of mindfulness does a lot of good for you. Just like the mind influences the body, so does the body influence the mind.
Feeling healthier, being pain-free and in a good physical state can put you in a great mental state as well. Ever experienced how good sleep can make you have a great day or how a scrumptious meal makes you feel happier than you were feeling when you were hungry? It’s just like that. Relentless work days can put our bodies through a lot of wear and tear. It's the effort we take to care for our bodies that defines how well we manage our future stressors.
Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge that biologically, stress affects us differently. Men and women react differently to stressors in the environment. In fact, our physical, mental, emotional and social wellness can also define how differently two people of the same gender or even the same family react to everyday stressors.
The beauty of Yoga is, that it can be done by all. Age, gender, religion, physical capacity are all secondary factors. A recent Mckinsey report says that following the past two years of the pandemic, women are more significantly burned out than men.
PCOS as a condition is rampant in the world and is only worsened by a sedentary lifestyle along with a stressful lifestyle. (Long hours, lack of sleep, lack of activity) Yoga can help relieve these symptoms. Yoga promotes relaxation, hormonal balance, better sleep and in turn can alleviate the painful effects of PCOS. Likewise, men face challenges with heart health, diabetes and hypertension. It might sound simplistic to reduce these challenges to mere words in a sentence but these can alter the body and mind of an individual to a massive extent.
And finally, how we treat one another can be defined by our Yoga practice as well.
Yoga can do several things to the brain. It develops memory, learning, cognition and gives you the opportunity to be more creative and allows for a more in-depth understanding of your own self. It makes us higher functioning human beings and we are better able to manage day-to-day physical and mental demands. It rids us of aches, pains, and general weakness, and increases productivity, patience and perseverance. It substantially reduces the chances of mental illness, emotional imbalance and outbursts. All of these make us better individuals than we were before we started yoga.
The biggest gift I have ever received through my Yoga practice is the gift of compassion. Sensing our own challenges becomes easier with time. But sensing another’s challenges becomes easier too. We become capable of extrapolating our own experiences with someone else’s life. We come out of meditative experiences feeling empathetic toward someone facing a challenging situation or feeling grateful towards someone who is doing well in life.
Better humans make a better world. If there’s one thing that you take away from this article, I would like it to be this:
Your mind and body are more connected to each other than you imagine. Think of your mind as a sail and your body as the ship. Neither can survive without each other and both control each other. Yoga has proven to be the one thing that tends to both. Whether you choose to do it is your own personal choice, but carving out time for yourself to Move the body, Breathe mindfully and connect with the self should become non-negotiable KPIs for founders.
Edited by Diya Koshy George
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)