Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a lovely lady named Andrea Allen who runs a company called ‘Yogify Your Business’. Andrea had asked me to be one of over 20 speakers on a telesummit she was organising for the purpose of exploring how business and marketing could align to the principles of yoga (I’ll tell you more about this free event in a few minutes, and you can register for Yogify Your Business by CLICKING HERE).
Prior to Andrea asking me to speak on this subject, I had never really given much conscious thought to the connection between business/marketing and the concept of ‘yoga’. But then, I started reflecting on my past studies of ancient Eastern philosophies, and realised there was indeed a long history of connection between commerce and yogic practice. So, I thought it would make for some good weekend reading to share some of these connections with you today.
The Meaning of the Word ‘Yoga’
The word ‘yoga’ comes from Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, which was used in all their philosophical and scientific treatises dating back many thousands of years. ‘Yoga’ is derived from the verb ‘yukta’, which means ‘to join’ or ‘to connect’. The word ‘yoga’, therefore, means the state in which we are ‘joined’ or ‘connected’ to something. Even our English word ‘yoke’ (as in a yoke used to join two oxen together at the front of an ox cart) is descended from this ancient Sanskrit root.
But if ‘yoga’ means to be in a state of connection, the obvious question is, ‘connection to WHAT?’ The answer is that ‘yoga’ means to be connected to the ultimate Truth. However, in Sanskrit tradition the exact nature of what that Truth is, and the path by which we find connection to it, is actually quite broad.
The Five Types of Yoga
In Sanskrit tradition, there are five types of yoga:
Dyana-yoga: Dyana is the practice of meditation. Dyana is often included as part of the other four yogas, and is sometimes not mentioned as a separate kind of yoga.
Hatha-yoga: which is the kind most of us think of when we use the word ‘yoga’. Hatha-yoga is the practice of specific types of physical movement, breathing (‘prana’) and postures (‘asanas’) designed to help us find greater connection between body and the Life-Force.
Bhakti-yoga: ‘Bhakti’ means ‘devotion’. Bhakti-yoga is the practice of devotional service to a Divine Being, thus creating greater love and connection between the ‘devotee’ and the Divine.
Karma-yoga: ‘Karma’ means ‘action’ or ‘doing’. Karma-yoga is the practice of doing good or charitable works, thus creating greater connection between ones actions and the greater purpose of Creation.
Dharma-yoga: ‘Dharma’ is something I’ve spoken a lot about on this blog, and is also a topic I discuss in the book The 7 Graces of Marketing. Dharma is a more complex concept. It literally means ‘that which draws/holds things together’. Dharma is the ‘glue’ of society and of Creation in general. All things and entities have a ‘dharma’, which is their natural purpose. For example, the ‘dharma’ of water is to moisten, quench, flow, nourish, hydrate, etc. Similarly, all living entities, including human beings, have a ‘dharma’. Our dharma is our purpose for existence – the thing we are meant to contribute to the Whole (of society, of Creation). Thus, ‘dharma-yoga’ means the practice of performing our purpose faithfully, for the sake of connecting to the Higher Purpose of Creation.
How ‘Dharma’ is Our Natural State
Many people in the personal development world use terms like ‘life purpose’, ‘fulfilment’ and ‘living a meaningful life’. While these are intrinsically part of dharma, true ‘dharma-yoga’ goes deeper than any of these terms. When we truly practise our dharma, we are in a state of natural harmony with the rest of the World. Without effort, we are giving to Creation what It desires from us, and Creation is giving to us what we desire from It. We know we are successfully practising dharma-yoga when we experience not only fulfilment, purpose and meaning, but also congruence, connection and a powerful sense of knowing that we are contributing something essential.
There is a verse in the ancient text Bhagavad-gita that says it is better for a person to practise their own dharma, even if imperfectly, than it is to practise that of another, even if expertly. Thus, dharma could be summarised by saying it is simply our ‘natural state of being’ and that when we act from this state, whatever actions we perform – even if clumsily and full of errors – bring us closer to a state of yoga/connection with the bigger plan for the Universe.
Seeing Business and Marketing as Dharma-Yoga
If everything in the world has a dharma, it stands to reason that the world of business also has one. In ancient Sanskrit texts, the ‘dharma of business’ is to feed society – literally and figuratively. The mercantile class has the responsibility to ensure that the public receive food, clothing, shelter and other vital goods and services. I’ve spoken about this subject in many articles on this site in the past.
‘Dharmically’ speaking, marketers are simply the messengers whose responsibility it is to communicate with the public, so they know where to find the things they need. If we perform our roles as business owners and marketers with these intentions, we are performing dharma-yoga, and are therefore increasing the state of Connection within ourselves, as well as within society as a whole.
If, however, we perform our roles for the purpose of something other than ‘feeding society’, we are not practicing dharma-yoga. Rather than creating greater Connection, we are increasing the levels of Disconnection in the world.
Don’t Like All This ‘Woo-Woo’ Words?
While these concepts are thousands of years old, I totally understand if you think it’s all a bit New Age and ‘woo-woo’ to use them in the context of business and marketing.
But even if you prefer not to use words like ‘dharma’ or ‘yoga’, I strongly believe we could do much to solve many of today’s social, environmental and economic issues if all business owners and marketers took a step back from the day-to-day grind of it all and saw their function or role in society as ‘feeders’ of humanity, rather than profiteers who ‘feed upon’ them.
I’d love to hear what you have to say about this idea, and welcome your comments below.
And if you’d like to dive more deeply into this subject of the connection between business and the principles of yoga, I encourage you to register for the ‘Yogify Your Business’ telesummit, hosted by Andrea Allen. This FREE event is starting on 7 April, 2014 (my interview is on the 12th) and will include interviews from over 20 ‘yogified’ business owners from all of the world (including yours truly), who will all be sharing how they link yogic principles with the way the run and grow their businesses. I do hope you’ll join us. Register for free at http://yogifyyourbusiness.com/lserafinn
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing. Brit Writers Awards Finalist eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media. eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)