Transformative Practice: A Lesson from Yoga

February 8, 2010

Is Tatham just another trend? Is it just like all those other quality or process improvement programs out there that are similar to lose weight quick fads? Or has it been around for forty years, like yoga has been around for thousands of years, because it’s different?

Recently I discovered yoga.  I’ll admit, all the talk about chakras and transcendence made me a bit skeptical.  What I needed was a way to calm my mind and relax the tension in my muscles. What I got was far more than I bargained for.

Everyone takes away something different from an experience.  This is what I get from yoga.

Focus – An absolute presence.  Being completely focused on the present moment.  On the breath and pose you are holding.  Everything else melts away.  Stops.  The result?  Exceeding expectations of your own capabilities.  Gaining perspective.

Practice – Repetition of a series of movements to enhance performance.  You follow a process and continuously make small, specific adjustments in order to improve.  Then you follow them over and over again, day after day.  Practice means progress. Discipline.

Strength – It’s not just a good stretching technique.  It’s an amazing strength builder.  There are no expensive machines or equipment required.  The benefits are gained because of the simplicity and subtlety of the movements.  In this case, less activity equals greater results.

Flexibility – The combination of the above creates a new level of flexibility. The ability to move in new ways was prevented by my inability to believe it was possible.  A few months ago I wouldn’t have believed myself capable of some of the positions I can do today (even 9 months pregnant).   It was through focus, practice and development of strength that flexibility was born.

Change occurs in steps

After one of our classes, my instructor asked me what I did for a living.  I explained our business and the underlying philosophies.  I received an unexpected response – laughter.  She asked why it took me so long to incorporate yoga into my life.  If I had taken the word organization out of my explanation I could have been talking about yoga – giving people the tools (poses) they need, reinforcing the importance of practice, creating an environment of focus and application, helping people step back, do things easier and have more time away from the office, developing simple solutions to complex problems, making companies more flexible to change and customer needs, etc.  It’s a change in the way you think, approach work/life and wellbeing.  Shifting the mind to enhance performance.

As my yoga instructor pointed out to me, our system to business innovation includes all of these components.  The scientific approach is only successful when combined with these softer behavioral elements.  As yoga has enhanced my life and wellbeing, so too do our customers experience a life-altering change.  They usually begin their journey skeptical looking only for financial results.  And they always get more than they bargained for.