The Balance Sheet

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE

by Lisa Stowe

Last October, I took a new position at work in a management role. In addition to the associated increase in responsibility on a day to day basis, I’ve also begun taking classes to help me develop my voice as a leader. I’m the first to admit that I can approach these types of courses with a bit of skepticism, and it was in this frame of mind that I was absentmindedly checking email at the outset of a recent training class. But I was quickly jolted out of my Blackberry daze when the lead instructor called us to “be present.”

Wait – what? Be present? I’m not in a yoga class, I’m at work!

It took me a minute to get over my befuddlement, connecting that a very yogic aphorism was being employed in a decidedly non-yogic setting. And then I began to welcome this interloper from my yoga world into my work world, slowing moving from “whoa” to “wow.” I turned off the Blackberry and stayed present in the classroom. The skeptic in me retreated, making space for a great learning experience. I surrendered to the role play, to the theoretical discussions of management, and added some new skills to my leadership toolkit.

As Patanjali reminds us in the very first sutra: “atha yoganushasanam” – now the teaching of yoga begins. Yoga is happening now. Be present. Be in the moment, not one moment ago or one moment ahead.

My practice started on a sticky mat and initially led to lean muscles and increased flexibility. But it does not, and should not, stay on the mat. The interlopers into my work and family are not invaders to be defended against, they are welcome additions. Because the interlopers are the point of the practice – while the physical elements are detoxifying and fulfilling, they are only the lead-in to the much more challenging mental and emotional elements of yoga.

As my practice evolves, I’ll continue to carve out space for yoga interlopers in my life, embracing them in my non-yoga worlds. I’ll try not to be shocked when mindfulness comes up outside of the studio. I’ll stand in tadasana on the subway. But I’d still be surprised if someone referenced my greater trochanter at the office.

Lisa Stowe is a yogi, economist and mom who is as graceful with her arm balances as she is analyzing financial markets and juggling two young children. THE BALANCE SHEET will offer her perspective on integrating and benefiting from a consistent yoga practice amidst the hectic reality of family, work, and home. 

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