What yoga has taught me about leadership

What yoga has taught me about leadership

Today’s post is from my friend Thais Guimaraes, also known as the catalyst maker Coach Thais. She supports ambitious coaches, healers, teachers, trainers and heart-centered women to optimize their lifestyle, grow a spiritually badass business, step deeper into faith and lead from authentic feminine power.


When I first started going to yoga, I was lost, angry and confused. After battling binge eating for three years at that point, I didn’t know what else to do. I tried hating myself. Judging myself. Depriving myself… and none of it worked. In my mind, I was out of options.

And then, an angel in the form of my mother suggested I try a yoga studio in town that offered vinyasa flow yoga classes. I didn’t know what that was but I was willing to try in the name of finding my purpose and taking this binge eating stuff away for good.

The minute I stepped on the mat and did my first flow of chatturanga, up down and down dog, I was hooked. And somehow within that hour, my busy monkey mind stopped chattering. It was just a split second pause but it was enough for me to know that there was something in this practice that offered sanctuary from my mind prison.

Through the practice of yoga, and yoga teacher training, I became better friends with myself. I stopped battling my binge eating and embraced it instead, which ironically enough, was all that was required to start healing that part of myself.

Ultimately, yoga taught me a lot about leadership, more than I learned in business school and the corporate world, combined. I want to share with you my three big lessons in order to support you shine your light and inspire others:

Yoga teaches us to embrace where we are on the journey

How often do you find yourself comparing your yoga practice to others on instagram or your neighboring yogis? This often happens with newer yogis who are getting used to the limitations of their bodies. It’s natural to want to compare where we are with where others are, in some ways it gives us a guiding system for what is possible.

The more we show up, however, the more we start to see that no matter how much we want to be where that person is, we have to be with where we are and what we have. The more we focus on our breath and becoming present with what is here, the less interesting it becomes to see what other people are doing. Our experience becomes all that matters. And in that way, we give ourselves freedom to explore what we have and enjoy the process.

As we take this new way of being into the world, we stop comparing our lives and business to those on social media. It becomes irrelevant. Instead, we focus on what we can do with what we have and where we are to build something aligned with our soul. Just like touching our toes is not at all important to yoga, having a million followers is not at all important to being an influencer and changing the world.

Yoga teaches us to develop “tapas” or self-discipline

The word tapas comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” In the traditional sense, tapas is interpreted as “fiery discipline” and to be intensely focused on doing what needs to be done to remove the obstacles from true yoga, or union.

Showing up regularly is important in developing character. We see this when we get on our mats consistently. Regardless of what the actual practice is, whether it is child’s pose the entire practice or a vigorous vinyasa flow, when we make the decision to practice even when we don’t “feel like it,” we are strengthening our ability to handle life’s obstacles with grace.

Self-discipline powers our ability to maintain integrity in our decisions and stick with our purpose even when the way gets rocky. This is essential to leadership, if we want to manifest our vision and influence others to manifest theirs, we must be disciplined enough to show up and move forward no matter what.

Yoga teaches us to hold space for ourselves and others

The more we get on our yoga mats, the more we realize that there is a lot of stuff inside of us that we didn’t know existed. Old resentments, festering emotions, judgment and fear, these are just a small sampling of emotions that come up for us. As we move our bodies, we energetically release these feelings in order to heal them. What is important is to hold a container for these emotions with compassion and an invitation for wholeness. As we do this, we begin to understand we are more than just our emotions. We are more than just our thoughts. And in that way, we are able to allow whatever thoughts and emotions to arise without attaching our identification with them and labeling ourselves as “good” or “bad.”

This is an inevitable part of the spiritual journey, understanding we are a myriad of things without taking ourselves to be those things. And as we find this shift in perspective and come into wholeness, we allow others to be on their journey as well.

As lightworkers and leaders, we can only be a catalyst for the transformation of others if we can hold space for ourselves. By doing so, we give permission for others to be exactly who they are without judgment. We begin to understand that by judging them, we are simply judging ourselves. This allows us to hold a container for all of who THEY are without being impacted or making it be about us.

Leadership applies to all of us, whether we are a stay at home mom or an employee, whether we are an entrepreneur or a corporate junkie, whether we run a team of one or many. How we do anything is how we do everything, and in that light, the more we commit to a spiritual practice, the more we develop the necessary traits required to serve the world in a bigger way. Yoga invites us to deepen our relationship with ourselves so we can stand more powerfully in our true essence. This is the only life we have, if we don’t choose to lead it, someone else will.