What Bikram Yoga Taught Me About Business
I've been doing Bikram yoga since June 1st, 2018. There is a Bikram yoga studio where I live that I never once thought to go to. I needed something new to do so I went to their website and saw that they had a 21 day special so I signed up in I've been going ever since. I've watched many new people come into class, and a lot of the time they never come back. You have to be a certain kind of m̶a̶s̶o̶c̶h̶i̶s̶t̶ person to enjoy Bikram. Now I understand entirely why walking into a room that at best is 105° with at least 40% humidity is a little scary and you would never ever ever want to come back. But, like entrepreneurship, you have to be a special kind of m̶a̶s̶o̶c̶h̶i̶s̶t̶ person to do it.
Throughout my practice over the past eight months, here are a few lessons I've learned I can apply to my business.
When you pay attention to what other people are doing, you're going to fall over.
There is a balancing series where are you need to pay attention to what you're doing; otherwise, there is a good chance you are going to tip over. One of the instructors in the yin yoga classes likes to say that there are three teachers in the room. There's the instructor teaching in front of the room, there is yourself, and then there are all the students around you. It's very tempting to look around and see what other people are doing, especially if you're new to the practice. But, when you focus too much on what other people are doing, you may do something that does not benefit your own body, or you just might fall on over.
When you are in business for yourself and spend so much time looking at what other people are doing, you are not serving yourself. You end up being a copy of someone else's business, and that's not helping you, and it's not serving your customers. You need to keep your eyes on your own business and learn what's best for you so you can best support your customers. What someone else is doing may work for them, it may not work for you.
Listen to the instructor. They're there for a reason.
It is very tempting to think that you know what's best for you, but the sequence was made like this for a reason. If you've never been to a Bikram yoga class, it is very different from your typical vinyasa flow class. It's the exact same routine every single class, and you start to go through the motions of it because you know what's coming next. If you get too stuck in your ways, you're not going to grow, and you're not you're not going to get better and could end up hurting yourself. It is important to listen to instructors because they are there to guide you.
Look for mentors in business. They don't even have to know you exist. Take yourself to the library and read books by people you admire. Listen to podcasts and learn from the best. Hang out with people who are better at business than you are. They went through the training. They've done the hard work, and they're there to help you be better in your own business.
The instructions may not include you, but it’s ok. Keep trying.
Along with that exact same routine that happens every class, there is a dialogue that goes along with it that every single instructor will say no matter what studio you go to. There are things mentioned during the dialogue that does not apply to me. There's a lot of talk of touching your actual forehead to your actual knee, and I'm thinking that my actual 38DDD boobs are in the actual way preventing that from happening. You have to keep your toes and heels touching during a lot of positions. I have a thing called leg length discrepancy where one of my legs is shorter than the other, and that's just not going to happen for me. I am a plus size girl, and when they say you should be able to see your ribs in the mirror, I'm thinking I've never seen my ribs ever. It can be very discouraging to hear the words said, but I know that the system wasn't created with someone like me in mind, but it's not going to stop me from practicing and getting better.
When there are numerous articles stating that venture capitalists won't invest in startups created by non-white people, it can be disheartening starting a business in a world built to cater to white men. As a Black woman working for herself, it can feel like I am struggling to catch up, like this game wasn't made for me to play. But I keep going, and I keep trying.
Stop doing the most. Seriously.
Instructors say that the only thing you're required to do is breathing, everything else is optional. Sometimes people ignore that part. I do it too. There are times I want to lie down, but I keep pushing myself. I tell myself that once I get through the next pose, I can lie down, and usually, I end up getting through the whole class without taking a break. But when people push themselves to do a position their body is not ready to do is when they need to take a step back. Doing less is okay. No one's going to judge you.
When it comes to business, it definitely feels like you we have to do all things right now or else you're not successful. We try to do so much because we look at social media and we think we should be doing more and more and more because everyone else is doing all the things. The person next to me may be able to do positions that I can't. I'm different from them. Pushing myself so hard isn't going to help me in any way. It's going to take me years of practice to be able to do certain positions. It took me two months to be able to grab my left foot in standing bow pulling pose, but now that is a position that I can do (somewhat) easily when my body is allowing me to do it. Having patience with your body is okay. Having patience with your business is okay. Forcing yourself to do something that you're not capable of doing at this moment isn't serving you, and that's not serving your business.
The most delightful part of the class is Shavasana when we get to lie down. Some people still like to do the most during our sacred resting time. The instructors continually say just rest and to not move. Instead, we have people stretching and doing extra poses, and I'm sitting there like "dude, just lay down, bro." Take this time for yourself. You deserve it.
With business, sometimes you need to take a break and walk away. You need to let your brain recharge so you can come back ready to be creative and think of new ways to grow your business and career. You can't always be working so hard because you're not going to build. Your business isn't going to get better. Rest and relaxation are critical for you to be able to show up and be your best.
Have you tried Bikram before? Let me know in the comments if your workout practice ever helped you out in your business.