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The Executive’s Asana: How Yogis Think Outside the Box

Updated: Apr 7

You are never limited by the constraints someone else gives you. If someone gives you a box and tries to put you inside of it, don't think for a second that you can't expand a boundary or break it down altogether and design something new to fit your needs.


Like so many things in life that challenge our comfort zones, there's this pressure we place on ourselves to make us feel like we have to be amazing every step of the way. Looking back on the 200-hour yoga teacher training I (Alex Burkart, President of Never Industries) did with Moonbird Yoga, this was more present than ever.


Blog Post: How Yogis Think Outside the Box

If you're unfamiliar with yoga, teacher trainees are tasked with learning breath-to-movement sequencing, where you must cue complex movements while synchronized with your student's inhales and exhales: inhale your right foot forward, rise up high lunge, exhale fan open warrior two. It's about five months to go from mistaking your left foot with your right hand to guiding a room full of students through a class that leaves them feeling empowered and more connected to their inner selves. 



Imposter syndrome sneaks in, and that voice in your head tries to convince you that you're inadequate and won't make the cut. 


The voice in my head kept saying: if I'm not the best I know I can be by the end of this five-month training, I'm a failure. - Ridiculous, right?!


How do you get past this? 

It starts with stillness and finding your starting point, not the one that was given to you.


A simple inhale and exhale can become the bedrock needed to ground you in some of the roughest storms. When you're able to navigate from where you are confident, you can more easily identify the stressors weighing you down and the boundaries that were given to you that may need to be bent or broken in order to find a path forward that works for you.


For me, the constraint of time, as well as this fabricated expectation of how good I needed to be at each step of the way, were the two walls of the box I was given in teacher training that I realized I could change. When I shifted my mindset to kindness towards myself first and knowledge and mastery second, it created the freedom to progress towards excellence at my pace, completely stress-free.


These instructions are never given out. Most follow the crowd, make assumptions, and never think twice about what rules can be bent or broken.


I always think back to the table scene from Men In Black. Everyone is clearly uncomfortable, but heaven forbid you be seen as awkward or weird for being the one who challenges the status quo in the name of happiness. 



Whether it's a 200-hour yoga training or your daily grind, being able to recognize moments of stress as opportunities to be still and listen is key to identifying the variables both within and outside your control. Once you understand this, you can make the appropriate modifications, controlling what you can while surrendering the rest.


If you can't touch your toes to save your life, bend your knees, rest your belly on the top of your thighs, and focus on lifting your hips up and back while maintaining the connection between your belly and thighs. This will keep your back flat and build the mobility in your hamstrings needed to inch your way closer to a straight-leg forward fold.


If you want to launch a business, change careers, or achieve a life-long goal, don't settle for the constraints someone else gives you. If you want to be a yoga teacher, don't stress about being ready by the end of the program.


The next time you feel boxed in or trapped, remember you can build your own box. Take a breath in and a breath out, and find your footing. Start from your center, not theirs. Observe your surroundings and listen for what you need to move forward, not what expectations you're assuming exist. Make the modifications you need, and chart your own path to success. Control what you can and surrender the rest.

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