How to Use Yoga to Find Career Happiness

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Kathryn Budig, practiced yoga instructor and contributor to many yoga magazines, recently talked with life coach and friend Christine Hassler about how her yoga practice has melded together seamlessly with her life. In the Quarterlife Upgrade interview, the two relate to Gen Y through their personal stories and struggles.

I have taken what I learned from the interview and paired it with the 10 Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga. Yamas and Niyamas are instructions for dealing with ourselves and our surroundings. Yamas are the attitudes we have toward things and people outside of ourselves. Niyamas refer to how we relate to ourselves inwardly. I find that Kathryn’s words of wisdom concerning career and life happiness reflect these “wise characteristics” well.

Yama Ahisma: Non-injury

Niyama Ishvarapranidhana: Celebration of the spiritual  

Christine and Kathryn talked a lot about jealousy and how it can be difficult to push this feeling aside. Kathryn remembers when she was in the running for a particular job. At the time she was sure her career depended on getting this job, that it would “make or break her.” When it was offered to another person, she spent a good deal of time “Facebook stalking and sending negative energy her way.”

Of course, none of this did her any good and in fact inhibited her by wasting a good deal of her time and energy. It took a while, but eventually she came to see how her jealousy was dragging her down. She also matured into the realization that if you don’t get a job it’s because that job is not for you. Don’t give up and let yourself wallow. Keep going and something else will come your way.

It’s hard not to be jealous of those in our fields who are succeeding (even if we like the person) but what we have to do is switch that perspective. Instead, be inspired by them, happy for them, and keep working on yourself so that you can be at the top of your game.

Yama Satya: Truthfulness

Niyama Shaucha: Purity

Kathryn made the point that in order to get hired you need to stand out, but that doesn’t mean you should do things just to stand out. Rather, you should step back and take a real look at yourself. What is there about yourself that you love and want to amplify? That is where your focus should go. Yes, you want people to recognize you, but you need them to recognize you for you, not the “persona” you’ve created. These created personas are something that really aggravate Christine Hassler (and she has seen quite a few).

All the while, you can work on bettering yourself so that you can put your best foot forward. Kathryn refers jokingly to yoga as “a gateway drug” because although you may start it as a physical practice, it will have other effects on you. You will begin to react better to situations, your diet will change, and you will feel less dragged down by petty things. This is a purification your mind and body.

Yama Asteya: Non-stealing

Niyama Santosa: Contentment

Kathryn talks about how it is great to be inspired by people and to strive to accomplish the same amount that they have and more, but what you don’t want to do is find yourself trying to be them. She recalls when she was starting out people would say “you’re going to be the next so-and-so” (comparing her to well-known yoga instructors). She was always flattered by the comparison, but she knew that they were wrong. No, she was not going to be the next whoever. She was going to be herself. She reminds us that we should learn and be inspired by others, but not try to be them or take what they have. We should strive to run our paths parallel to theirs, to excel in our own practices and career endeavors.

Yama Brahmacharya: Sense control

Niyama Tapas: Disciplined use of energy

This yama actually refers to abstinence, particularly sexual abstinence, but it can also refer to using that energy and pushing it towards something else. Kathryn refers to herself as 50% couch potato and 50% “I’m gonna take over the world!” She has an unbridled energy when it comes to something she is passionate about. Find what wakes you up in the morning, makes you want to move, and work towards that.

Yama Aparigraha: Neutralizing the desire to acquire and hoard wealth

Niyama Svadhyaya: Self-study

Kathryn mentions focusing on something you are passionate about rather than anything else. She understands that it can be difficult to define your passions at first. She suggests that “if you don’t know what makes your heart beat faster, then discover what makes your heart break and work against that.” For Kathryn, that heart break was brought on by animal abuse. She’s created Poses for Paws, an organization that helps abused animals and animal shelters. Yes, she needs to make a living, but she also spends a good deal of her time hosting yoga sessions in which half of the proceeds go towards her charity. Her desire to help animals greatly outweighs her desire for money.

Gen Y-ers seem to be doing well with this yama whether they practice yoga or not. In a recent New York Times article, “No Six-Figure Pay, but Making a Difference,” a young man named Brentt Baltimore (along with others in his generation) turned down a high-paying job to work at a venture capital firm in Detroit. This detachment from money and strong desire to work for something you care about fits perfectly within the structures of this yama and niyama.

You don’t have to practice yoga to take some tips from this post. As Kathryn Budig puts it, “there’s no blueprint for success.” Don’t be afraid to look inward to find happiness. Maybe you’re not getting enough out of a job or the job search because you haven’t allowed yourself to. There was a quote from the interview that I thought displayed a great attitude towards yoga as well as career exploration. While talking about yoga as a practice both women agree that “it’s not about getting better at the postures, but rather reacting better to the postures.” Understanding that something may not be easy, but it is possible to accomplish, is a great first step to finding career happiness.

Homework Time! If you haven’t already, try out some yoga. See if it changes your attitude towards your current career or job search. If you’re a seasoned yogi, take the time to learn more about the non-physical practice. Or, if you’re really not into yoga, think about how you can relate other exercises or non-work hobbies to your job or job search.

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