How I Ended Up Upside-Down on a Mexican Beach

downward dog yoga matFor the past month or so — to solidify my West Coast hippie cred — I’ve been going to a yoga class at my gym.

I’ve done yoga a few times over the years, and always liked how I felt afterwards, even if it was uncomfortable during. (And that’s pretty much a guarantee.)

Since the class was included in my gym membership, I figured I’d join in and see how it went.

And the more classes I attend, the more I can relate yoga to starting a business.

Funny story:

The class schedule was labeled “Yoga Max” which I thought was probably too extreme for an inflexible newbie like me. Then I noticed it was followed by “Zumba Christine” and “Pilates Karen.” Ahh yes, Max is the instructor.

1. It’s Not a Workout; It’s “Practice”

Yoga is probably among the least efficient forms of exercise. I guarantee there are far faster ways to burn calories, get in shape, build muscle, and lose weight — if those are your goals.

In fact, my Fitness Minimalism podcast guest Pat Flynn would probably tell me to get off my mat and pick up a kettlebell!

But the workout is secondary. It’s taking an hour out of your day to be conscious about your breathing and your movement and your muscles.

It’s about the practice; the process.

One thing I talk a lot about is the “experimenter’s mindset” when it comes to entrepreneurship. Adopting this mentality gives yourself permission to take risks and permission to fail.

If you can think about each day in your business or in your side hustle as just another practice, you’ll hone your skills and make meaningful progress — without the pressure of a “big game” situation.

2. It’s an Individual “Sport” — but Better in a Group

In yoga, you’re not competing against anyone; there are no winners or losers. If it can be called a sport at all, it’s an individual one.

Yet it’s almost always done in a group setting.

Everyone there has their own ideas of what they want to get out of the class. But there’s a camaraderie in the group; a mutual understanding of what you’re collectively going through.

There’s some unspoken consensus of support. Plus, being in a group pushes you to hold a difficult pose longer than you otherwise might.

I look to my classmates for guidance and clues to see if I’m on the right track. As I’m often not, I use their silent visual feedback to correct course.

Starting a business is similar. The entrepreneur’s path can be a lonely road, especially when just starting out. But by surrounding yourself with like-minded peers, either in a formal mastermind group or in an informal network of colleagues, you can tap into the collective wisdom of dozens of mentors.

Ultimately your business (like your yoga) will only go as far as you take it, but your network can support your journey along the way.

3. It’s Hard Work!

I’m always amazed by how hard I’m breathing and how hot I get from essentially standing in one place.

It’s uncomfortable. Meanwhile, some impossibly flexible person is cheerily reminding you to, “Just breathe!”

Even if there are faster ways to burn calories, yoga will definitely get your heart rate up and your muscles sore.

In starting your side hustle and working on your biz, don’t take the “work” part lightly. Even if it seems like you’re standing still and not making much progress, you’re putting in your time and you’re getting stronger because of it.

Especially at the beginning, other people might not appreciate or understand the effort. That’s because — from a distance — yoga and business might both look calm and peaceful. But up close and personal there’s a lot of burning, shaking, and sweating going on :)

Ignore those who discount your efforts and hustle on.

4. You Can Do More Than You Think

My favorite moments in yoga are when I’m thinking to myself, “How the heck did I get here?”

On a trip to Mexico a few years ago, Bryn and I did a beach yoga class put on by the hotel. Sounds very zen, right?

But somehow, near the end of the class, we ended up in full headstands in the sand!

I was like, “Look at me, I’m really doing it!”

I bring this up because it was an incremental sequence of movements and positions that got me there. Had the instructor started off the class by saying, “OK, now get in a headstand,” we all would have laughed.

It would have been ludicrous for her to even suggest it.

But by taking the baby steps, we all were able to do more than we ever thought we could.

I think the same is true in business. If you start small and just aim to make a little progress everyday, your efforts really begin to add up and you might surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.

A few weeks ago on The Side Hustle Show, Bjork Ostrom shared his “1% Infinity” mentality. He explained the power of making compounding incremental improvements each day, rather than shooting for some big scary unrealistic goal right out of the gate.

5. It Feels Great

Even though the class is a sweaty, shaking, sometimes awkward struggle, I feel great afterwards. I figure that feeling is what keeps people coming back.

It’s an hour of conscious, deliberate movements no one can take away from you. An hour of pushing yourself; it’s a weird mix of calming and invigorating.

Similarly, working on your side hustle is super rewarding. Even if you aren’t sure if you’re doing it right, and even if you’re not seeing any immediate income results, you know you’re investing your time and energy in your business.

That investment, however small, is one that no one else is going to make for you. And that should feel great.

Namaste.

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