I like to poke fun at myself every now and then.
In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that being willing to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest things you can do as you forge your personal development path – and it makes the entire process more fun (ie: it’s a win-win!).
I’ve always found self-deprecating humor to be joyful and liberating (in moderation). I’m not talking about negative self talk, but rather the ability to separate our ego and sense of self from our actions. Sometimes we need to chill the f out and let go of our attachment to our behaviors, our successes and our thoughts – because holding onto everything so tightly is exhausting and crushes any creative inspiration that comes our way.
When I first started my yoga teacher training, I used to joke that I was the world’s laziest yogi. I would only ever go to fast paced yoga flow classes so that I could give myself permission to attend the restorative classes – the ones that were all about dim lighting, breathing, essential oils and stretches that made me want to fall asleep on the mat.
I hated the flow classes because they made me sweat, tested my endurance and showed me unflattering angles of myself in the classroom mirrors. You’ve been there, right? Yoga pants aren’t the most flattering things in the world.
Of course there was a small kernel of deeper truth as to why I preferred restorative yoga to yoga flow classes – it was because I initially came to yoga as a means of stress and anxiety management. Learning how to breathe and meditate and slow my heart rate had been major coping mechanisms when I was feeling overwhelmed and constantly on edge. The flow classes tended to trigger more anxiety for me, rather than less – so of course I preferred the slow stillness of restorative classes!
In fact, I still remember one of the first restorative yoga classes I ever took, and how changed I felt leaving that tiny studio in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, riding my bike home through the darkened streets. I felt free, and safe, and totally calm.
It was such a blessing. In 40 minutes, I’d learned how to center myself, how to be present in the moment rather than stressed about the future, and how to find deep wells of strength in that stillness (when I thought I’d tapped out every single source of strength I had left). There was more power, waiting for me below the surface. There was everything I needed.
Like those fast paced yoga flow classes or highly scheduled days, traditional ideas of leadership can stress me out (and I know I’m not alone here). So much of the philosophy around traditional leadership harps on things that feel heavy – responsibility, pressure, discipline. The word leadership itself can feel outdated, unrelatable and boring.
It’s not, though. Leadership is all about identifying and commanding your personal power with intention. It’s about trusting and honoring yourself enough to honor and trust those around you. This is in now way unrelatable or boring – it’s everything we look for in personal development!
I was reflecting on those early days of restorative yoga recently, and I started to wonder – what if we could practice a different kind of leadership? What if we embraced an ascendancy of power that felt rooted in restorative practices, like those nourishing classes that first taught me the power of yoga? A restorative fueled leadership would be one that encourages us to shift into our present moment, to find strength in our stillness and intuition, and one that rejects competition and comparison for the far more community nourishing practices of truth speaking and powerful presence.
What if being a leader wasn’t scary, outdated or boring? What if it simply meant that we could show up as the best version of ourselves, for ourselves and for others? Here’s the great news: it can. It starts with understanding yourself – doing the deep inner work of true self awareness and knowledge. Once you are acutely aware of yourself, you’re able to develop clear intentions for your restorative fueled leadership style (and they won’t look like anyone else’s!). The more intentional we are as leaders, the easier it will feel.
Even though I love a bit of humor, I have never been a ‘lazy’ yogi – I’ve always been conscious of choosing an option that feels life-giving, rather than one that feels overwhelming. Although the yoga flow classes have grown on me over time, I’m always going to be drawn to restorative options in yoga AND leadership – because I believe that they nurture possibility, rather than keeping us focused on limitation.
That, my friends, is what restorative fueled leadership is all about – and I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to go back to another way.