By Tracy Forsyth (yogaintheboardroom.com)
When I was a Divisional Director at a global media company, my role involved managing a big team, frequent trips to the Boardroom of Directors to present business cases, and a fair bit of public speaking.
In my spare time, I was passionate about yoga, and decided to do a year-long teaching course at the weekends. I never expected the yoga world and my corporate life to mingle. But what I found over the course of that year is that techniques I was more used to doing on the mat, crept into my daily working life, transforming not only my self-belief and confidence to the point I felt fearless – but also my physical and mental wellbeing.
So how do I think yoga can help you become a fearless leader? Here are just some ways.
Use your breath to feel calm. If you have a big presentation or a difficult conversation coming up and want to feel powerfully calm, try this Belly, Chest, Exhale breath. Let your belly go (don’t hold it in) and breathe into it fully, then let your breath travel up to your chest, expanding your ribs as much as they will go and when you can’t take in any more breath, sigh it out. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 4. Repeat 2-3 times and notice how calm you feel.
Use your breath to feel pumped up. If you have hit that 4pm slump and need to power up with some energy, then try this simple breath technique: inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 2. It’s refreshing and oxygenating helping your feel super sparky.
Stretch it out. Even though you are at work, there are lots of stretches you can do at your desk or workspace to release tension and limber up without needing a yoga mat. A build-up of tension and tightness is bound to make you feel irritable and out of sorts and not on your A game. Try this easy desk stretch: interlace the palms and push your hands away from up and up over your head. Stretch up and over to the side then the other side. Bring your arms down and flip the palms towards you and twist your body round to one side then the other. Release your hands and clasp them behind you. Reach down with your clasped hands to your bottom and then lift them gently away from your bottom. This sequence will stretch out the shoulders, arms and sides of your body as well as stretching the muscles around your spine.
Stand or sit tall. If you want to make a physical impact either around a table in a big meeting or even on zoom, pull yourself up to your highest point possible with a long straight spine. Standing or sitting tall will not only make you look more fearless but feel it too. One of the simplest poses in yoga is Mountain Pose: essentially, standing tall and broad. A mountain is strong and imposing. Stand like a mountain!
Shoulders back! Ever notice in the Gladiator movies that the warriors open their arms and spread their chest as broadly as they can then swagger into battle? Well, not only is rolling your shoulders back and down a great counterbalance to being hunched over on the computer all day but also having a broad, open front makes you look proud and fearless and ready for action.
Hold your Head High. Imagine you are being pulled by a thread from the crown of you head. It’s pulling you up and up, your neck is getting longer and longer and there is more and more space between your ears and shoulders. Not only does this make you sit up straighter but also makes you look more regal and powerful. Now to top that off, imagine you a wearing a crown. ‘You Can’t Wear a Crown if Your Head is Down’ said Beyonce, and she’s right.
About the author
Tracy Forsyth is the creator of Yoga in the Boardroom.
She is an Executive and Business Coach (PCC), a 200 RYT Yoga Teacher and Board Member of various companies. She is a regular columnist and Speaker on career confidence and wellbeing at work.
In her corporate leadership roles, she realised that using yoga techniques at work increased her confidence, presence, and leadership as well as her physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga in the Boardroom is her way of passing on these learnings to empower others.
If you would like more tips on how yoga can help you become a fearless leader, join Tracy at yogaintheboardroom.com and sign up for her FREE Friday Flexers session featuring desk and chair stretches to release tension from the neck, shoulders and back. It’s the ultimate tension relief before the weekend.
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