Back in 2011, I was about two years into my new life in New York City but still found myself to be stressed and not at peace with anything. To remedy this, I joined the Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan, not only for yoga classes, but also for the wide array of interesting classes they offered. One class stood out to me in particular, solely by the name: 'The Yoga of Personal Finance.'
That's enough to make you scratch your head -- how can fiance, something so stressful for a lot of people, have anything to do with yoga?
Yoga in its basic form is about finding peace: with physical self, with your spiritual self and with other people. The workout factor is merely a nice side effect. Applying peace to all other areas of your life can be done through yoga, and using a similar approach to money is also possible. Money is not something evil in this world that's here to corrupt us - money (like food and air) is an ENERGY that comes and goes in our lives. It is neither good nor bad: it simply is. Food can be 'good' and 'bad' but there isn't one type of money that is better than another.
Learning to see money as an energy is a big step, but doing so can make your life a whole lot easier. I'm always worried about money (weird I know given my profession) but using the practice of yoga in my financial planning has made all the difference. It takes practice (as with all that is yoga) but it can be done. Here are 5 steps to hopefully inspire you to get started.
1. Seek Balance
Everyone wants to have more money, but the more important question to ask yourself is 'why'? Why do you want to be richer than you are now? You may have enough money now to cover all of your bills and obligations, and this is truly balance, but what would more money do to your life? It will redirect your focus away from things that at one point were more important. More money will often throw people off-balance, so be aware of what kind of balance you are looking for.
2. Proper Preparation is Important
The more difficult yoga poses usually happen at the end of a normal class, why? Because at any point before that you wouldn't be ready. You can't just jump into your retirement or any kind of relaxation/vacation without proper preparation. You may not be saving now, but it is not too late to start. Getting some help/direction is also important, so be sure that you have a financial adviser who will help you to be prepared.
3. Be Flexible
It seems silly, but yes, like you must be flexible in understanding your physical limits, it is also important to be flexible when it comes to your financial habits. If you like to buy that Starbucks coffee every morning, understand that all of that money could potentially be put to better use. If you tell yourself to buy that Starbucks coffee once or twice a week instead of every day, you'd be a lot closer to achieving balance.
4. Self-Care is Worth the Effort
Doing yoga is great for your health and can brighten your feelings and mood. Just like you take care of your body, treating money like a health energy can also encourage you to take better care of your fiances. As Sarah Winfrey put it, "Learning self-care through yoga often helps people take better care of themselves financially. This can mean spending money on things — even little things — that make you feel good. A sweet smelling candle, a good book, or a cup of coffee can all be acts of self-care. It can also mean using more discretion about how you spend your money, so that you aren't always worrying about debt, overdraft fees, and how to pay the bills. Once people get started on a path to self-care, it often spills into their entire lives."
5. Mindfulness with Help You to Reach Your Goals
Keeping an open heart and an open mind is a much simpler and rewarding way to go through life. So keep that in mind in all that you do that's related to finance. Having a mastery over your own finances can bring you happiness and peace just as yoga can. Winfrey also noted that mindfulness is in an essence becoming a master of yourself: "Being mindful — and therefore a master of ourselves — can help us stick to a budget. It can help us save up for something we really want. It can help us get through a frugal season without taking on debt. And it can even help us buy Christmas presents, because it will help us focus on the recipient and what they want, rather on everything we might like to buy for them. In the end, being mindful will help us save more, invest better, and be happier with what we have."