Last Wednesday I was at yoga. There is a specific instructor I gravitate towards when I need to let work stress go and bring myself back to a calmer state.

I was on the mat trying a transition from standing needle, up to airplane, and then to back to a crescent warrior when I caught myself smiling.

THIS is why I love Heather’s classes. No two classes of hers are the same. You may as well throw your expectations out while you’re still in the parking lot because she will weave you through the ways of yoga in a sequence you could never put together yourself.

And that’s when the light bulb in my head went on.

I go to yoga to embrace the exact things that cause stress for me at work.

As I transitioned from mountain pose into a shaky side crow, I dove deeper into this thought.

What are the things that I love about yoga but don’t handle well at work?

As I nailed the longest side crow I have ever held, thanks to Heather’s encouragement, I came up with two things.

1 – Reaction to the unexpected.
In yoga I go with the flow. I don’t have an agenda. I’m listening to the instructor’s words, and if she encourages us to try something new, I try it. I trust the process in yoga and let it unfold, embracing wherever the class leads.

At work I often come in the door with a list of things I am determined to accomplish. My brain clicks on in the morning the second I turn on the shower, and from then on a steady stream of intentions for my day pour out.

The longer my list is in my head, the more determined I am to cross them off.

As you can imagine, a day rarely unfolds like that. Loans need to be reviewed, problems need to be solved, relationships need to be built, and decisions have to be made. Logically, I know the value of things that pop up on a daily basis, but what about my list?!

2 – Being asked to do something outside of my comfort zone.
In yoga I made a deal with myself that if a teacher gave us a challenging option or a new pose, I’d try it no matter what. I don’t know if I don’t try, right? Just holding a new pose for two seconds is a win. Allowing myself to fall and laugh is also considered a win!

In yoga I accept the fact that I am always trying, and that is always good enough.

At work I have significantly higher expectations of myself. I have had many situations recently with our core conversion project that made me uncomfortable, such as mapping fees and costs. I can decipher codes all day long, but fees were different. I felt the need to learn it all and be perfect at it. No matter how much I studied the fee tables, I never felt it was enough. I didn’t feel like an expert. I even dreamt about mapping fees!

How can I approach work more like this yoga class?

Here’s what I came up with.


Instead of creating a new list every morning while I’m blow drying my hair, maybe I make one list for the week, and I truly limit it to the five most important things. Of course, I can have another list with things that would be nice to get done, but that will be separate from the “Big 5”.

Having a “Big 5” list for the week might make me less anxious on any individual day. I will have those five days to accomplish what matters most, and will feel more adaptable to respond to what comes in, hopefully minimizing the resistance I normally feel.

Doing my best

That’s just it. Doing my best.

New and challenging things will always come up at work, and embracing change and tackling them with some grace and faith could do me a lot of good.

Mapping the fees for our core conversion was daunting because I didn’t know the details. How could I have headed into that differently? I could have pulled the experts in sooner. In yoga, I use blocks or a strap when I can’t quite get something. With the conversion project at work, I eventually asked for lots of help from our Finance team and the customer service team at FIS.

Every time I step onto my mat in yoga, or step into my office in the morning I know that I will be tested, stretched, and will grow as a person. Now it’s time to apply the same grace and intention to both practices.