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Unlock Your Business Potential

: The Yoga-Project Management Fusion. Want to start your own business? A fusion of yoga and project management offers budding entrepreneurs the tools they need for business success - By Catherine Dowling 

Reading time: 5 minutes

Yoga and Project Management, distant stars rarely mentioned in the same breath. But when these two fields align with a shared purpose—creating an ethical, sustainable business—they make surprisingly effective partners.

Yoga trainer Victoria Sky and Project Management trainer Rachael Milne have been merging their disciplines for some time, specializing in support for women entrepreneurs. Rachael explains the connection, “Yoga is an internal journey to stillness. It’s about unlocking potential, getting past the inner blocks. Project management is about making things happen out in the world. It gives a woman the tools to make her business vision a reality.”

Victoria and Rachael say budding entrepreneurs need these three skill sets:

The ability to visualize what your successful business will look like and the role it will play in the world.
Confidence to stay the course through obstacles and setbacks.
Practical skills that turn vision into reality: planning, marketing, leadership, interpersonal communication to name just a few.
A seamless, spiritually rooted combination of yoga and project management addresses all three.

Skill 1: Be a Yogi Visionary

Forming a business is a creative process. Creativity flourishes when the mind falls silent. The concentration required by a daily sequence of asanas takes us into the stillness of the present moment. When we’re fully in the present, the stage is set for the creative process to begin.

Breathwork is the next step. “Guided breathing relieves stress,” Victoria explains. “and oxygenates the body and brain.” Conscious breathing increases activity in the older, pre-verbal parts of the brain where our dreams can take shape unencumbered by doubts.

When Victoria is working with clients on retreats, she guides breathers through a visualization of the business they want to create. Their business vision emerges from deep inside, an expression of who they are. “Or,” she says, “you can practice taking four short breaths followed by one long breath. Do this for a count of 20 breaths then hold your breath for as long as is comfortable. Hold your business vision in your awareness as you breathe and let it take shape without forcing it.”

Skill 2: Clear the Space

The Laboratory of Neuro-Imaging at the University of Southern California estimates that the average person has approximately 70,000 thoughts a day. Most of these thoughts are monkey-mind chatter. But the more sinister ones can undermine the self-belief we need to run a successful business.

The words may vary—you’re not good enough, no bank will back you, nobody wants your product—but the message is the same: your business won’t succeed. Result: the entrepreneurial vision is stifled before it can develop.

“One of the life-changing skills yoga brings to the workplace,” Victoria says, “is breathwork. Breathing unearths these limiting beliefs. We can then breathe through them and know that the thought is just a thought; it’s not who we are.” The more the negative voices are silenced, the more confidence grows.

Skill 3: Make Your Vision a Reality

Project management is a broad field that covers skills ranging from dynamic leadership to time and cost management strategies. “Everyone has a unique skill set,” Rachael says. “You need to look at your strengths as well as where you need improvement.” When working with Victoria, Racheal builds on what clients have discovered about themselves through yoga, tailoring her exercises to their needs. A basic way to do this, Rachael advises, is to make lists of your entrepreneurial strengths and weaknesses. “But,” she cautions, “we often don’t recognize our strengths and exaggerate our weak points.” Balance that out by asking a friend for input.

Both Victoria and Rachael have found interpersonal communication to be the most common challenge for entrepreneurs. In her spare time, Rachael is a stand-up comedian so on retreats she shares many of her stage techniques with clients. An at-home trick she recommends is to practice your speech or pitch out loud. “Practice until you hear confidence in your own voice, until you’re comfortable with the words, the tone and your body language.” Again, ask a friend for feedback.

Victoria has a wide range of breathing techniques to calm nerves. A simple, at-home practice she recommends is Triangle Breath—inhale for a count of 4, exhale for 7, pause for 8, repeat. “It’s great for the anxiety people feel right before they have to pitch an idea or go into a meeting.” Arrive a few minutes early and find a private space—a stall in the bathroom will do fine. Then take five minutes to practice your breathing technique.

For time management, Rachael suggests the Pomodoro technique—make to-do lists, assign times to each task and tackle the tasks you dislike most first. Another vital list is of key supporters for your business. “Identify the influencers,” she recommends. “Focus on the ones with most power to support or hinder your project, communicate with them robustly to get early buy-in.” This is just one of the many places where yoga and project management intersect—yoga builds the confidence and project management builds the skills to communicate with funders, influencers, customers, and employees.

The yoga-project management combination works just as well for people who have no interest in starting their own business but want to improve their work performance. It’s a holistic, sustainable way to reach your peak potential in every situation.

Victoria Sky is a yoga teacher, trainer, and therapist. Founder of Tree Living Yoga, she runs retreats in the UK, Spain, and Thailand

Rachael Milne is an award-winning Project Management trainer based in Portugal. She is the founder of Rachael Milne Consulting and works with start-ups throughout Europe.

Their combined work can be found at Projectfulness.

Catherine Dowling

Catherine Dowling is an Irish writer with a lifelong interest in yoga. She has authored two books and numerous articles.