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).
- Practice 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?