Great leaders have a high degree of self-awareness and emotional intelligence; they also have a growth mindset. The leaders of the future also need a strong nervous system. All these qualities can be cultivated through the study and practice of yoga.
Yoga Develops Self-Awareness
Yoga is not exercise it is psychology and yoga creates self-awareness.
Approximately 1700 years ago, Patanjali’s yoga Sutra states:
‘The purpose of yoga is to still the patterning of the mind. When the mind settles into stillness then the true self is revealed.’
Yoga teaches how to master our minds and tune into our bodies. We become aware of what’s going on in our minds and how that affects our body. We learn how to observe our thoughts. We use the breath to control our emotions and feelings. This kind of self-awareness helps us evaluate our strengths and opportunities for personal growth and transformation.
Yoga Develops Emotional Intelligence
Yoga teaches us to step away from judgment and connect with the wisdom of the heart. Yogic philosophy teaches that to show more compassion, understanding and forgiveness towards yourself will mean that you can offer the same to others.
Yoga teaches us to be more responsive to others, take for example the namaste at the end of class, which can be translated as ‘the highest in me bows to the highest in you. ‘ This helps us to relate to others and to be aware of how to put others at ease.
Yoga is a practice where we are working on attentiveness, becoming more open, fair and responsive, all qualities of high emotional intelligence.
Yoga Develops a Growth Mindset
Thousands of years ago, yoga taught that we can change our mindset. Today it’s called positive neuroplasticity.
Through asana, breathwork and meditation yoga can reduces the fluctuations of the mind and negative thought patterns. We can create the positive traits needed to be a great leader.
There is a term in yoga ‘bhavana’ a beneficial attitude that is continuously cultivated despite tendencies to the contrary. In other words, we are continually working on repetitions cultivating the best ‘states’ in mind and body until they become our ‘traits’.
As we develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and a growth mindset through yoga we also ground our nervous system, this is important in an increasingly neurotic world. Yoga is a continual, life long practice, just like great leadership.