What Yoga Taught Me About Financial Serenity

I’ve been a yoga buff off and on for approximately 30 years. I love the convergence of mindful practice and physical exercise. I love the challenge of contorting into the cobra, downward dog, and warrior poses, twisting a little deeper each time. I didn’t love it, though, when my instructor said “Now come into Sirsasana.” That’s the headstand pose, in case you didn’t know.If you do it right it can give you an amazing energy boost. If you do it wrong you can seriously injure yourself.To say that trying a headstand made me nervous is an understatement; my whole serene state of mind collapsed into sheer panic. I just couldn’t conceive of the idea of my head on the ground and my feet in the air. I felt like I was going to lose my balance, topple over, and end up flat on my face.It’s a lot like what happens when you fear taking action with your money , imagining that one false move you might turn your life upside down.I could have just sat in lotus pose and waited it out while the rest of the class went into headstands, of course. But I had a nagging feeling that I was the problem; my mental approach, my self-imposed limitations. I couldn’t just sit and watch while those around me boosted themselves upside down and glimpsed the world from another perspective.So here’s what I did:I met with the teacher in a series of private sessions to help me gain a better understanding of the technique and what was required of my body and mind. She asked me why I was resisting.Did I have any medical issues or other physical constraints?No. Nothing was stopping me except my own fear.So she demonstrated, and explained the moves from the beginning setup to the proper exit. She broke the posture down into small, understandable movements that I could imitate as she went along.Fast forward to the other night, in class. Time for the headstand. I kind of hyperventilated at the thought. But then I brought to mind all I’d learned about position, approach, strategy, mental framework and oh yes, breathing.I cupped my hands, lay my forearms flat on the mat and put the top of my head into my hands. I walked my feet forward, swung one leg up and then the other until my body stood like a human exclamation mark. The excitement and flush I felt was a combination of elation and blood moving “south.” I was thrilled at my accomplishment.On my drive home, I thought about the journey; the fear, dread, resistance and finally determination, action and execution. And I thought of clients who have come into my office with similar feelings of dread.Related: 5 Steps to Work Your Way Out of Money Problems

To master the pose, I did just what I tell my clients to do to gain mastery of their finances:

  • I recognized the problem (my mental block and fear).
  • I sought professional guidance
  • I practiced
  • I acted, despite my fear and reticence
  • I found success
  • Think of your money life. There might be areas in which you feel less secure and more fearful. My yoga teacher reminds us in every class that each student’s skill levels and goals are unique. The same goes for personal finance; everyone’s goals, desires, dreams and challenges are theirs alone.
  • Consider the financial landscape you need to navigate; understand the scope of the issues.
  • Ask yourself whether your lack of action to this point is fear, mistrust, fatigue, or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whatever it is, acknowledge where you are and why. It’s okay. We’re human.
  • If you’re not a pro, find a professional who “gets” you. That means they’re willing to ask you the hard questions and listen to your concerns.
  • Create a plan that will take you step-by-step through the issues.
  • Act on the steps necessary to accomplish your goals. E.g. maybe you need to get your wills and documents prepared or devise a plan to pay off your debts. There are steps to take; what’s stopping you?
  • Acknowledge and celebrate your actions.
  • As you start to recognize what’s been holding you back, you can set out on a path for yourself. Take it one step at a time. Feet forward, one leg up—and before you know it you’ll be doing your own financial headstands.