Facilitate the ‘positive’ in positive change: mindful Hatha yoga

Our trainings and coaching focuses on facilitating positive and lasting change. Goals that our clients are particularly interested in achieving include: using strengths to facilitate peak performance, managing conflict constructively, communicating for results, building a winning team and creating a sustainable legacy…

The key words to remember when effecting change are: positive and lasting. Unfortunately these are not often a part of many change processes, which partly explains why over 70 percent of change efforts fail (check out Kotter, 1995; Beer & Nohira, 2000).

While the ‘sustainability’ aspect of change is pretty clear cut and easily understood, ‘positive’ is more of a ‘wishy washy’ term that may be interpreted differently, depending on the individual.

Positive change involves creating a learning goal that is both motivational for the individual, and beneficial to the organization. It is different from performance goals as it is built around an individual’s values, strengths and passions. The focus is on what you want to be as opposed to what you feel you should be. (Goleman, Boyzatiz, McKee 2002)

Having said this, goals that everyone agrees upon are desirable, and change will be challenging. There will be peaks and troughs on this journey of change, and as a coach I am there to partner with my client through these ups and downs. One important element is, unsurprisingly, effective stress management.  So today I want to introduce you to another one of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques: Mindful Hatha Yoga (check out my earlier entries on 10/16, 11/5).

In practice…

All you need is a flat surface, a yoga mat for comfort, and about 10-15 minutes (that is after you have gone through the full practice CD a couple of time for which you will need about 40 minutes…). Poses are simple (download visual instructions here: Mindful Hatha Yoga Poses), gentle and your focus is on your breathing. Move slowly and consciously, explore your limits but don’t push through them. If you notice thoughts coming that distract you from your breathing, bring yourself gently back to the ‘here and now’, without judging yourself for having gotten distracted.

Research has shown that not only do exercises such as these this reduce anxiety and stress, but regular practice also contributes to muscular flexibility, balance and strength. One tip: When I use it, I find having slow music really helps calm the constant chatter I have in my head…!