What Yoga Taught me about Personal Finance

As you know, I’ve been an avid fan of yoga (like everyone else here in Vancouver).  I recently bought a one month pass for $35 (one of those Groupon-type deals) and have been frequenting the yoga studio often.  While in Shavasana (the corpse pose) I let my mind wander, though I shouldn’t have,  and started thinking about the parallels between yoga and personal finance.

I know there aren’t likely any parallels between the two, but I thought I would try anyway.  It might be a bit of a stretch (get it?!  LOL I crack myself up sometimes).

  • Discipline- Going to yoga regularly takes effort.  To make it part of your routine so that you won’t think twice about dragging your butt to the studio for early morning yoga practice, it takes some time getting used to.  Working hard to ensure you’re saving enough money can take awareness and a ton of effort (and pain!) at first, but then it can become automatic and part of your routine (like paying yourself automatically).
  • Postura do pássaroPractice and Humility-  It takes a lot of practice and in yoga, you learn to put aside your ego (well we hope to learn to do that, anyway!) because even those that practice every day can learn to improve their Child’s Pose posture, or the Triangle Pose.  When you get an instructor who gently corrects your stance that you’ve been doing for a few years, you will feel the difference the small adjustment makes in terms of the effects of yoga (e.g. more of a stretch, more “opening up”).  With investing, you need to put aside your ego.  Instead of thinking that a stock will go up, and up, and up, and when it doesn’t do what you expected, you need to learn from your mistakes instead of reacting to them (e.g. run away from the stock market when it crashes).  For example, instead of reacting to the dip in the market by selling, you can think “oh, this is a great opportunity to buy more at a lower price” (provided it is a good blue chip stock!).  Also, instead of buying the “next hot stock pick” go for stable dividend paying corporations.

  • Individual- Yoga is very individualistic.  The sensations you feel when you do a yoga pose can be different for everyone.  This is the same for personal finance.  Personal finance is individual, everyone’s situation is different… there isn’t a cookie cutter answer to whether one should invest in an RRSP or a TFSA, for instance.  Also, some people prefer Hatha Yoga, or Yin Yoga, or Vinyasa Yoga or even Kundalini Yoga- just like some people prefer to invest 100% in equities, or 100% in GIC’s because of the principle amount is protected, or some people like a mixture of fixed income and mutual funds.
  • It takes patience and time- Mastering yoga takes time and a lot of patience and self awareness.  You can’t expect to twist into a pretzel on the first try, just like you can’t expect to get a 22% return on investment on the first foray into investing.  With time, your muscles will become more flexible, you will feel more comfortable with the poses, and you will feel more confident.  The same goes for personal finance- with time, that growth will be compounded and you will see more and more of your money working harder for you.
  • You can do it yourself- Just like if you go to a yoga studio and pay $12-$15 per class, you can go to a financial advisor and pay a fee for financial advice, or pay commissions on mutual funds.  Or, if you prefer to be independent and save money, you can buy a DVD for $15 and use that at home.  Some people prefer to go to a yoga studio because it gives them accountability, whereas some people are very self-disciplined and can incorporate yoga into their daily lives without having to go to a class.  You can choose to do it yourself by buying some ETF’s to start or start up some TD E-series funds.

Readers, have you practised yoga?  Did you by any chance draw the same conclusion about personal finance and yoga during the Corpse pose?  Do you sometimes fall asleep during Corpse pose (and start snoring) like I do?

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

28 Responses to What Yoga Taught me about Personal Finance

  1. Another thing yoga has taught me about personal finance:

    Sometimes, you can achieve a position that you never thought imaginable!

    With yoga, that can be balancing yourself on one leg while fully stretching out the other leg in front of you.

    With personal finance, that can be calculating your Net Worth and thinking, “Whoa!! How did I end up with that much!!” … and then realizing it’s the result of years of discipline, compound interest, and wise diversification.

    • @Afford-Anything.com- Brilliant!! You’re right- that is a great observation :) lol, also there is REBALANCING both your portfolio and with yoga :)

  2. The right yoga teacher is absolutely the key for me. I have been to many yoga classes and I only like a few of the teachers. Some of them go too fast, some of them too slow, or push too hard.
    I think this is like finding the right financial adviser. :) I haven’t found the right one yet.
    I fall asleep sometime too and I think that’s just dandy. (nobody complain about snoring yet…)

    • @retirebyforty- I didn’t know you did yoga! Did your wife do prenatal yoga before she gave birth to your little one? You’re right- it’s all about the teacher too. One time I tried hot yoga and the instructor used to be a firefighter, he was pleasing to the eyes, but it was in no way relaxing (he was shouting and almost drill sergeant like) so I never went back to hot yoga. I guess with yoga and personal finance, I’m the same way. Prefer to go at it alone :) but welcome some tips from some yoga instructors and financial advisors along the way.

  3. In addition to writing on personal finance and I am a yoga instructor. So, absolutely, there is a connection in my life! Further, yoga is all about focusing on your priorities and forgetting extraneous details in the moment. A valuable lesson for personal finance and budgeting. Clear out the cobwebs and your real values become much more clear.

    • @Stephanie Taylor- Thank you, I’m loving all of you guys’ comments. So it isn’t just me who think there are parallels between yoga and personal finance! That is another great comparison- focusing your priorities and forgetting extraneous details.

    • @Miss T- They say great minds think alike! There are just so many pluses to yoga, no wonder it has taken the world by storm :)

    • @krantcents- there’s always so much to learn with personal finance- you are right on that you can’t really be successful and not have solid personal finance (unless you win the lottery of course).

  4. “Some people prefer to go to a yoga studio because it gives them accountability, whereas some people are very self-disciplined and can incorporate yoga into their daily lives without having to go to a class.”

    This speaks to me. I like going to the yoga studio because being surrounded by others helps keep me motivated. I’m not productive by myself! It’s the same when it comes to learning about PF; I just started reading PF blogs in January and have found that the greater community has motivated me to learn more.

    • @Two Degrees- Welcome to the PF blogger community! I’ve been around for about a little over a year and it’s been a fantastic journey full of PF learning :)

  5. Great post! I’ve often wondering about the similarities between yoga and and personal finance, especially since my wife owns a yoga studio, and I teach investing! You did an excellent job describing the similarities.

    Patience and discipline are key both in your yoga practice and investing style.

  6. I am a runner, participate in yoga and work in the financial industry. I find a similarity training for a race / improving your yoga and planning for your financial future; both take discipline, patience and a plan. Nothing happens by accident. Most athletes are goal oriented people who lives their lives with discpline through everything from diet, exercise, general well being and are “finally fit”.

    • @brother- Thanks for visiting. You are very right about that– that anyone can compare anything with everything else and come up with similarities. I didn’t think this post would win everyone over, but the idea just popped up, so I thought I would write out what I was thinking. Hope you enjoy other posts though!

  7. While I haven’t taken a yoga class, it’s something that I think would be good for me. Good body/mind excercise. Personally, I need to work on the flexibility a bit before venturing into a beginner’s class…

    Speaking of flexibility, I have been working on stretches of late, and while holding stretches I’ve thought of money. Kind of like your mind wandering to personal finance during yoga. Funny how something can come to mind of such times. Thing is, when relaxed like that, the clarity of mind is really good…

    • @Squirrelers- Very true! In yoga though, they encourage you do let your mind go blank and to just focus on the breath. It can be very hard to do, but often if you get good at it, it can be very rewarding (you can be transported to being in control, concentrated, and not distracted in a jiffy). Sometimes I am lazy to do that at yoga practice because I find that’s the only time I get to think about things, but when I do that, I don’t feel as ‘relaxed’ after practice :)

  8. What is it about sleeping in corpse pose that makes people snore? Ha! I fell asleep once at home and slept for 6 or 7 hours on the floor!

    I find that Yoga teaches us to be calm in our lives, finances included. Nothing is really that big of a deal when you are calm and cool headed about whatever problem that has come up.

    • @Keith Dennis- Wow! That is amazing– I’m sure I could have possibly done that too if it weren’t for them saying “now slowly wiggle your toes and bring your awareness back into the room”. You would think sleeping on a hard floor isn’t comfortable ;) Great way of thinking about the benefits of yoga, Keith. I think it’s a work in progress for me (trying to keep calm) but it’s a great thing to aspire to.

  9. I never thought Yoga could teach something about finances. I’ve always wanted to do Yoga but I couldn’t find a school here near my place.

  10. This is a very interesting post. I have thought about getting into yoga, but it seems very dull and I figured that as I wont be running around much, how can i loose weight etc?
    But it seems like there is more to it, it’s about self discipline and self control so applying yourself to this can easily reflect on other things in your life. So its something that I need to look into to see if I can do it!

    • @NIsha- No you definitely can lose weight with yoga. It’s like lifting weights but your own body weight. I think a combination of yoga and cardiovascular exercise is good.

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