By Scott Eblin
If you'd wandered into one of my group coaching sessions after lunch yesterday, you would have seen 16 people stretching their hands toward the ceiling, taking three deep breaths in and out through their noses and bending from their waists and letting their heads hang loose for a minute or so. It just felt like the thing to do. We'd done a lot of brain work in the morning, had an in-depth discussion with a senior exec over lunch and were getting ready for more coaching and brain work in the afternoon. It was literally and figuratively a time to stretch some different muscles and take a deep breath to clear our heads. The group had a good time with it and one leader said one of his takeaways for the day was that he was going to introduce stretching into his team meetings.
The idea to call a stretch and breathing break came to me because I've been a regular at yoga class three or four times a week for the past three months. I don't want to bore you with the details or preach with the passion of the converted, but it's been a great all around experience. I've been a runner all my life and never thought I'd find any physical activity that I enjoyed more than that. It's been pretty amazing, though, to see what happens when you spend 90 minutes stretching, sweating and twisting in a 95 degree room with a bunch of other people on a regular basis. (It's not as extreme as it might sound.)
Since my compulsion is to look at most things from a leadership angle, here are a few lessons I've learned so far from the practice of yoga that seem to apply to the practice of leadership.
Every day is different and is its own day - One of the things that the yoga instructors like to say is that no two days on the mat are the same. True statement. Over the past two months, I've seen how my capabilities vary from one day to the next. That's teaching me to be less self-critical, more patient and to pay attention to what's working. In my own experience as a leader and in watching other leaders, those are three things worth cultivating. Leadership lesson learned? Every day is its own day. Yesterday is over.
Improvement comes incrementally, then suddenly - So, let me say right now, I have no expectations of being the next Rodney Yee. I don't think I was born with those kind of joints. Still, I'm enjoying the process of developing new skills and increased flexibility. One of the basic poses is called wheel where, while laying on your back, you sort of do an upside down push up. I worked on that for a month and half and just could not get my head and shoulders off the ground. Then one day, I tried it and, zoom, up I went. Big surprise. Last night, I did three wheels in a row and am working on extending the length of my hold. It's a process. Leadership lesson learned? Sometimes progress is hard to observe even if it's being made. If you give up too soon, you forgo the opportunity for sudden breakthroughs.
Breathing can focus you - The studio I go to is called Down Dog Yoga. They put a lot of emphasis on breathing there. By a lot, I mean for 90 minutes the instructor is saying, "Deep breath in... and deep breath out." Lately, I've been getting to class without a lot of time to spare because my schedule has been packed. Starting yoga (or a meeting for that matter) in a slightly frantic state isn't necessarily the best way to go. It's amazing to me, though, how quickly I tune in after five minutes or so of being told to breathe in and breathe out. Leadership lesson learned? If you want to show up more focused and present at your next meeting, take five minutes before you walk in to just breathe in and breathe out.
Invest in your team and the results will follow - I've dabbled in yoga a few other times at other places over the past couple of years. One of the reasons I've become a regular at Down Dog is that the instructors are consistently good. They're very well trained around the approach to yoga that the owner of the studio believes in. They each exhibit their own personality and lead the classes in their own way but there is a consistent framework that they all follow and a common language and approach that they've all been trained in. The leaders of the studio are clearly investing in building and sustaining a team of instructors who are good at what they do, like doing it and enjoy working with and supporting each other. Needless to say, all of that creates a great experience for the students. Leadership lesson learned? It's worth the time and effort to clarify your philosophy and approach and then invest in sharing that with your team.
By Scott Eblin
Wynne Paris is a world beat artist/producer and musician who has spent the last decade devoted to an emerging genre of spiritual music: Yoga music and Kirtan. Wynne’s artistic sound is derived from 20 years of musical adventures and spiritual experiences.
To read more about our dear friend, check out his website, http://wynneparis.com
Holiday Restorative with Cecelia Rice
Saturday December 11th
11:00 AM-1:00PM, $30.00
Cecelia invites you to set aside time and allow yourself the opportunity to linger quietly and receive the benefits from the practice of Restorative Yoga. You will be supported deeply in moments of stillness while propped with bolsters, blankets , blocks. Experience the soothing effects of balancing the physical body, calming the mind and rejuvenating your inner spirit. Mindful, gentle movement, breathing techniques and extended moments of stillness will balance the Holiday energies of giving and receiving.
Peace within is a gift to yourself and to share with the world.
Contact Cecelia with any questions or concerns at cmr.rice@gmail .com
According to the description, Phillip Askew, yoga instructor, and Lydia Walker, formerly of the School of American Ballet, presented “Variations On Surya Namaskara” as part the 2008 Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s fall show at the New York City Center Studio.
Hatha Yoga Teacher Training and Self-Study Program
Level I - 200 Hour
A unique, Yoga Alliance approved, 15 session
intensive created for exploring Yoga on and off the mat.
Virginia Beach, VA weekend program dates are as follows:
December 10,11, and 12, 2010
January 21, 22, 23 2011, February 25, 26, 27, April 1, 2, 3, May 13, 14, 15,
June17, 18, 19, July 22, 23, 24, September 2, 3, 4, October 7, 8, 9,
November 11, 12, 13 & December 9, 10, 11
All sessions will be held at Global HealingTherapies in Virginia Beach
Friday 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
This program is designed to serve students who want to learn the art of teaching and communicating yoga. It is also set up to serve those interested in the self-study aspect of the program to deepen their personal practice.
Anna's mission through this program is to meet her students
where they are in their experience, skill, and understanding helping each one take
Yoga into their lives and communities with skill and grace.
Originated by Anna in 2000, this program has evolved into a well-respected course that
draws serious students to her teaching. The study of the ethics provides a doorway into the
subtle, yet profound, transformation of old modes of thought, speech and action into more
desirable expressions that align more succinctly with the ideals held in mind and heart of the
participant as a Yoga practitioner. Change is inevitable. And change with ease and grace most desirable.
This program offers the kind of group and teacher support that invites this change along with the vast
amount of information provided to transform your personal practice on and off the mat.
The emphasis of this program is on the know-how for the body's proper alignment and modification of the postures for beginner students.
This involves the study of anatomy and postures so to gain awareness
and the ability to "see" misalignment and the need for propping and modification.
There is an equal emphasis on the ethics and personal transformation through the practice of
Yoga "off the mat." This is accomplished through lecture, written text, inquiry through techniques,
and group sharing. It is Anna's intention to provide a well rounded preview of all 8 limbs of the Yogic system, with particular focus on the first 4: Yama, Niyama, Asana and Pranayama.
However, further topics include the following:
* Asana Alignment and Modification: Assits and Adjustments
* The Ethics and your Spiritual Lifestyle
* Understanding The 8 Limbs
* Subtle and Experiential Anatomy: Chakras and Expanding Consciousness
* Communication skills
* Developing Breath Awareness in Preparation for Asana and Pranayama
* Emotional Awareness & Integration
* Basic philosophical concepts and their Life application
* Fundamentals to Preparing a Beginners Class
For more information and to contact Anna directly: