I’ve been practicing yoga for more than 10 years, and find it valuable for many reasons beyond fitness. For starters, the practice of yoga is analogous to financial planning. Read on for three common yoga concepts that double as great financial advice.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
There is a word in the yogic vernacular called “Ahimsa,” or nonviolence. Literally, sure, don’t be violent. But there are other ways to practice Ahimsa, such as being compassionate toward yourself and others and refraining from hurtful self-talk. This includes stuff like, “I am just an idiot when it comes to finances; I would have no idea where to start,” and “I will never have money anyway, so what’s the point in trying to create a plan?”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “First, do no harm?” Follow Ahimsa and apply that mantra to your finances as well. Pinpoint areas where you are harming your own growth and seek to turn them around. For example, if you are saving to take a big trip but find yourself getting sucked into Bloomingdales and eroding your savings account, think less about how you “should” stop shopping, and more about how you can support your life goals. It’s more about self-care than going on a financial diet.
2. Find Balance
“Chaturanga” is a fairly common pose for yogis (and for those who haven’t practiced yoga, think about lowering oneself about halfway to the ground from a plank position). If you’ve been practicing for a while, you know that you can lift a hand, a foot, maybe both off the ground in this pose and stay stable. Why? There’s still a proper distribution of weight among the points touching the floor. Think of your financial portfolio the same way: You want to be diversified enough that if one point is taken away (e.g., the real estate market takes a nosedive or the stock market experiences severe volatility), your entire portfolio doesn’t topple to the ground.
3. All Hail the Gurus
“Guru” is a funny term, because it doesn’t necessarily mean a person who sits in front of you and makes you feel spiritual. Guru also can be translated to mean weight or heaviness. You can be your own guru, finding your inner compass to guide you intuitively through your practice.
As in yoga, you should be a full participant in your financial life. Delegating your power entirely to someone who you deem to be more knowledgeable than you can be dangerous. I can remember once being in a yoga class with a teacher who called everyone “love” and insisted that I was more flexible than I was, mashing my face into my kneecaps in an assisted forward fold. The next day I was on crutches with a torn hamstring.
This can be true of financial gurus, too: There is no one-size-fits-all methodology, and sometimes you can be pushed beyond your true limits. Pay attention to your gut. If someone is advising you to do something beyond your comfort zone, understand why and speak up. It’s said that yoga begins with a question, and questions should be welcomed in any relationship you have with a financial advisor or planner.
Yoga is a useful instrument in understanding how personal finance works. The next time you shy away from participating fully in your financial life, think of your practice on the mat and how it applies to other facets of your life. Remember, the first step is simply showing up!
Emily Boothroyd is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.