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Yoga and Financial Balance

April 18, 2014
Megan K. McAvoy

When we start our yoga practice, we do so by focusing on the breath; lengthening our inhales and exhales as an opportunity to center ourselves and calm the mind. We set an intention for our practice -- whether it is to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, acceptance, abundance, or the like. Sometimes, we might just be seeking to alleviate a bit of physical, mental, or spiritual stress. We flow through our vinyasa with a dutiful attention to linking the breath with our movement, honoring our physical capabilities, adjusting for proper alignment, and finding balance in challenging times. (Yes, I consider maintaining a calm mind and equal breath during a deep hip opener like Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon) to be "challenging times.") Then, we close out our practice with spinal twists, seated postures, and meditation during savasana -- coming back to our breath, returning to our intention, and honoring the space that we've created in our life. We return to the same comfortable seat where we started, and bow to each other honoring the light that each of us contribute to the world.

Sounds great. Sounds like it probably has nothing to do with financial balance.

It wasn't until I did my first 30-day yoga challenge that I began to realize how interconnected my yoga practice was to my career as a Financial Advisor. It was also at this time that I began to really decide that I would pursue my 200 hour yoga teacher training. The dedication and quiet that I found over 30 days of consistent practice, much of which was home-practice, matched the dedication that I have with my clients.

Similar to how we start our yoga practice, when I first meet with a client to talk about financial strategies, we take the opportunity to slow down, get to know each other, and uncover any concerns that they may need to address. We discuss how my practice can help to better align their financial decisions with their mindset of how they would like their financial world to operate. They set intentions for the work that we will do together; sharing their goals and dreams while providing a "30,000-foot view" of their financial world today. It is important to start with a clear, concise view of their personal balance sheet so that we can appreciate and monitor growth as they move toward greater balance on their path toward financial abundance.

When you flow through a yoga sequence, you are moving through postures that your teacher has specifically designed and linked together in order to prepare the body and mind for to go deeper. For instance, if you have not begun to open your hips and back, then you should not rush into Natarajasana (Dancer) at the risk of hurting yourself. A proper approach to financial decision-making operates much the same way. All of the financial decisions that we make impact each other, and without understanding the interconnection of your insurances, assets, liabilities, and cash flow, it is possible that you run the risk of leaving yourself exposed or unaligned.

For instance, if your intention is to reach the finish line ("savasana") in retirement with wealth that you've consistently saved over a lifetime, then what should you do in order to insure that you arrive there safely? Most people will insist that they must choose the best investments, and leave it at that. Those people are just like those students who rush into advanced yoga postures without proper preparation and without consideration on how to protect themselves from potential injury. "Injury" in this sense could be just as literal as an injury on your yoga mat, although potentially more detrimental.

Consider how your personal balance sheet would be impacted if there was a debilitating accident or sickness that prevented you from working and bringing in a consistent income. If that were to occur and your greatest asset -- the ability to earn an income -- was not appropriately insured, then how would you save for the future when it would be challenging to simply live for today? Assets would likely deplete and liabilities would increase, as reliable cash flow (along with your breath) is constricted. While many clients have group Long Term Disability Insurance through their employer, most do not understand how this coverage actually works and the limitations to replacing income. This is often because they lack clarity as a result of poor sequencing in their financial world, also known as "financial disorganization." While this is just one of many possible examples of the importance of alignment, it could have a significant, unintended impact on your best financial intentions.

A good yoga teacher, like a good Financial Advisor, will show students how to find proper alignment and link together each posture, or product, in order to best build and preserve their physical and financial wellbeing in a safe way. They will help you take what you have learned on your mat, and in your meetings, and apply it outward into the world so that you may be the best version of yourself and create the life that you desire. They will honor your relationship, be available for questions, and help you tie together all of the moving pieces so that you may live a life of physical, spiritual, mental, and financial abundance.

How do you find proper balance in your life? Share with us in the comments!