If you’re reading this, you already know that yoga is more than just the postures. So much of the essence of this 5,000 year old practice lies in the philosophy.
But have you considered how the philosophies of yoga could impact how you run your yoga business?
Now that’s a thought…!
In yoga philosophy, there are tenets called yamas. The yamas are behaviors involving our interactions with other people and the world. If we take this concept and apply it to our yoga business, we’re able to impact all of the interactions we have with our clients, employees, etc. in a positive way!
In this post, I’ll be sharing what each of the yamas are and how to use them to influence your business.
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Ahimsa is the first yama and it refers to nonviolence. When it comes to nonviolence, it’s not just the absence of causing harm. It’s about actively doing everything you can to not cause harm. There are many ways to cause harm and violence in your business– you only need to look around you at the destructive work of many corporations to see the evidence of this.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work with ahimsa in your business:
- How can I do the most good and the least harm in my business?
- What does it look like to actively make the world a better place through my work?
- What behaviors or habits of mine are actually harmful to my business? To others?
Some tangible ways to embody ahimsa in the way you run your business:
- Being actively inclusive and anti-racist, anti-transphobic, gender equity promoter, etc.
- Sourcing your products ethically — ensure that everyone in your supply chain, if you have one, is respected and paid a fair wage for their work
- Standing up for what’s right when the studio or center you work at does something you feel is unethical, even if no one else agrees with you
With satya, the second yama, we are charged with truthfulness. This yama asks us to be completely honest about who we are, about what our work is, about who we’re here to serve. Think of this as radical honesty.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work with satya in your business:
- Where am I not being honest with myself about what I need and where I want to go in my business?
- Where am I hiding parts of myself so that I don’t have to show up fully?
- Where am I not being honest with my students, clients, and customers in this work?
In your business, this could display itself as:
- No scammy or scare tactics in your marketing (Click here for a 101 guide to marketing that feels good)
- Being up front about who you can help and who you can’t– refer potential clients, customers, and students to others in your field who can help them if you’re not the right person for their needs!
- Being honest about your credentials and experience
- Not showing a polished, highlights-only version of yourself on social media — sharing the messy stuff, too
Asteya, the third yama, means non-stealing. Most likely, you’re not actively stealing (I hope you’re not!). But if we take asteya a little deeper, we can see that the main reason we might steal is if we are dissatisfied with what we have. In this way, asteya invites us to connect with gratitude.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work with astetya in your business:
- What am I taking for granted?
- Am I spending more time focusing on what’s next than I am being present with where I am now?
- Where am I getting trapped into feeling scarcity, lack, and competition?
- How am I stealing other people’s time and energy in a non-productive way?
Here are some tangible ways to embody asteya:
- Never stealing content or use other peoples content without citing sources
- Implementing a daily gratitude practice such as gratitude journaling
- Telling your clients, customers, and students how thankful you are for them
Bramacharya invites us into moderation. To me, this can manifest as creating more balance in your work. Remember, even if you love what you do, we all still need to take time off, to prioritize our self-care, to take time away from the screens and the studio to be with the ones we love. If you have workaholic tendencies, this one is especially for you!
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work with Bramacharya in your business:
- Where am I burning the candle at both ends?
- How is my identity and my feelings about work tied up in what I do?
- Who do I believe I will be if I’m not working all the time?
- Where do I need to stop clenching so tightly and let a little more flow come in?
In your business, embodying Brahmacharya could mean:
- Setting limits on your work screen time (such as no working on your computer before 10 am or after 6 pm)
- Setting boundaries around when you can be expected to answer emails and work-related texts
Aparigraha, the last of the yamas, is non-possessiveness or non-greed. I think this may be the most difficult one of all when it comes to business.
Aparigraha asks us to not clench too tightly to anything in our work: our students, our customers, the places we teach, our business identity. It asks us to be open to evolving at any time. It asks us to bring an element of deep trust into the work we do. If you trust that everything is happening for you and the path will take you where you need to be, there’s never a reason for greed and possessiveness!
(If you’d like to learn more about this yama, I love this article from Ekhart Yoga.)
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you work with Aparigraha in your business:
- What am I afraid might happen in my business?
- How does that fear manifest in the things I say yes to, the things I say no to, the ways I run my business?
- Where am I not trusting that I am taken care of?
In your business, embodying Aparigraha could mean:
- Taking a leap in a new direction that’s been calling you
- Not being afraid to rebrand or niche down
- Being able to ride out the flow of money ups and downs with ease
- Allowing clients and students to flow in and out your doors (literally or figuratively) without feeling attached
How do the yamas of yoga philosophy influence how you run your business?
Comment below and let us know! Want more advice on running a yoga business? Explore these articles from The Yoga Nomads:
- Why Failure is Necessary for Success in Your Yoga Business
- The Best Podcasts to Help You Grow Your Yoga Business
- How Mindfulness Can Impact Your Yoga Business