The Return of the Prodigal Yogi

I took a while to choose the title for this blog. I was chewing on AWOL, astray, MIA, AWOL (again) and finally settled on the first thing that came to mind when I had to write this – prodigal. Yes, well, technically, there wasn’t any extravagant wasting of money, but the allegory wasn’t lost on me. And while the narrative of the prodigal son’s return ends up stirring our moral and conscientious values around money, loyalty and parental indulgence despite the misplaced audacity and belligerence of their children, I couldn’t shake off the deeper feelings of welcome and acceptance after my brief hiatus from regular practice.

So, yes, the prodigal yogi has returned – and with that return, comes an insight, an understanding and endless opportunity to do what I absolutely love – introspect, dissect and make sense of the whole experience.

For, in the grand scheme of things, what else is yoga otherwise, if not to apply and make sense of life through it?

But, the making sense would have to graciously make way for a little synopsis of a 2017 that came and went with ravaging ferocity – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Yikes! That fracture

The fracture that gave me the BREAK I needed

Although the fracture took a toll on my physical availability, years of practice, allowed for more basic strengths to come forth and establish themselves. Creativity, detachment, acceptance and presence of mind – all these qualities, amongst others, presented themselves at times when they were needed the most, unbelievable to onlookers even. The year went on to heal the fracture, but it also deepened the wounds with emotional turmoil, mental unrest and a sense of disquiet that often saw me questioning my own spiritual allegiance. Thankfully, the year ended with hope and faith emerging strong and gracefully setting me back on the path that I had, through circumstances, strayed away from.

So…

This return to path, inevitably for me, also returns me to the 68″ x 24″ of space that is mine – the yoga mat.

yoga-mats

Cleared for practice, with some limitations, I spent the months since September 2017, courting doubt and befriending procrastination, succumbing to a truancy from yoga that reeked of fear and justified the absenteeism with much fervor to anyone who asked me about it – including myself.

I didn’t even include yoga, or any of its affiliated words in my 2018 goals.

I chose to just wait and see – or so I’d like to believe.

And yet, my faithful yoga mat, with humble grace and perseverance, stayed put right where I last left in – in a place that was visible to me every single day – undemanding yet urging it a way much like best friends who’ve lost touch, or perhaps even had a falling out, and have forgotten why.

Until a few days ago, I finally took that step to her, my yoga mat (yes, she’s a she) and made up.

The prodigal yogi had returned.

But in my story, I didn’t ask for a third of anything, I didn’t ask for results, I didn’t ask for a quick fix to lost time. I didn’t ask for anything, actually. So we just picked up where we left off.

And that was enough.

I went through the practices I had often taught my students – the centering, the intention, the breath, the asana… and slowly fear and doubt crept in.

Insidiously, those questions attempted to seduce me away.

“Can you do this? Should you be doing this?”

I wasn’t sure. I was pretty much tempted to wait till September 2018 (doctor’s visit to schedule the next surgery for the implant removal) or a blurry intention to take a doctor’s opinion on indistinct asanas.

It didn’t take long for the realization to hit me – I was doing what I had trained myself to do over the many, many years of living in my cocoon of safety. I was allowing myself to be lured to a space of pseudo safety to avoid challenging the presumptions of harm, injury and hurt that could possibly cause me pain.

What’s the worst that could happen? I’d feel sore, have some pain, not be able to get into the asana as I’d left it months ago?

So???

So… I practiced what I preached.

I showed up.

I followed the moves and cues that came like second nature. I paid attention to alignments that were new to me. I discovered that I was working with an entirely new body! I tensed at attempting my Suryanamaskara. I marveled at coming down in Ashtanganamaskar, yet noticed my grief at being unable to take my leg back in Ashwasanchalana. I was kind to my right ankle that cried in Veerabhadrasana and grateful for its amazing strength in Vrikshasana. I paid attention to those little crunches in my ankle that reminded me of nuts and bolts instead of bone and sinew and asked them permission to explore this new territory. Natarajasana that was available on the left side but urged me to move to the wall into Saral Natarajasana for the right. Hamstrings were tight in Downward Facing Dog, but my spine that was supple in Sphinx and Bhujanga. The energy of Kaliasana strengthening my legs and conviction to face obstacles and the grounding into Ekapada Rajakapota that allowed me hope that all is not lost.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. It did (a bit). It was scary. I often tell my students that we don’t have X-ray machines or vision to see what’s happening inside our bodies, but we do have sense and awareness. So I used that – and fell back on what I knew I had to do.

I listened to my body… and I stayed with it. It was a new body, a newer practice and I loved it enough to respect its limitations.

Without a grudge and devoid of judgment, the mat and the practice welcomed me back into my space – like a childhood bedroom that has been aired and kept ready for my return. No questions asked, just acceptance, compassion and space – to show up and move on.


Luvena Rangel, founder of The Curvy Yogi, is one of Bangalore’s leading Yoga Anatomy educators and active supporter of social cause. An avid reader, writer and motivational speaker, she is often on the panel of various educational establishments to speak on a variety of topics.

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Seriously, Intelligence is Over-Rated.

I used to wonder where the point of getting good to great would happen.

I mean, how do you know when you’re getting really really good at what you’re doing?

Simple. You’ll find people, a steadily growing number of them actually, will want to meet you. Not because you’re known or something, and yeah, that happens to happen anyway, but because what you do is getting the results people want.

eight-steps-to-become-great-at-what-you-do-2-638

So, we are seeing a lot of tense hesitation with women when they transition between where they are, to where they need to be. The Real versus the Ideal states.

We find that all this is to a very large extent, a state of mind.

Through our interviews, discussions, coaching and events, more and more we are realizing women do not take the step into the unknown, simply because it’s the unknown.

Sure, you’re probably thinking how is this different from the way men think, correct?

Correct. To look at it from the surface it is human nature to resist change and resist it we will. Excuses, delays, avoidance and denial flood our minds and stop us dead in our tracks, sometimes self-indulgence in opting to be mentally paralyzed too.

But, studies have shown that when it comes t0 us women, these challenges tend to take on a slightly if not grossly skewed shape. We have a gender based lens that enables us to perceive events that lead us to go into self- deprecation. We bring ourselves down, and filter situations from this world view.

In due course this takes us into a loop which stops us from progressing to getting to that ‘ really really good space’ aka, becoming experts at what we do.

Some of of the basics that can incrementally lead to disengaging this thought process are:

  1. Developing a clear Leadership Vision
  2. Self- Confidence Building
  3. Understanding what Success Means to us
  4. Networking
  5. Influencing and negotiating
  6. Others

We invite yoou to take notice of the fact that core skills around what you do have consciously not been mentioned here, as we consider that a given for success.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we at #VibhaWomen plan on addressing these facets via our workshops that will work in tandem with more sharing of thoughts and experiences that you can read here as well.

 

Join us either at our workshops or read more about this here shortly.

We also invite you to share your own thoughts around this.

More to follow, see ya soon.

 

The author is an Educationist, Social Entrepreneur and Coach

Twitter: #CarolineVibha

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #carolinecaresfernandes

Caroline Cares Fernandes

9 NIFTY WAYS TO BOOTSTRAP YOUR BUSINESS

Bootstrap

One often hears people complain that they do not have enough capital to start a business. Sure you need money to get your idea off the ground but do you really need venture funding or bank loans when you barely have any customers? Remember, it’s not easy to attract investors if you haven’t gained traction first.  

Do not be discouraged. It’s better to start with less capital than to invest a large amount when you are starting out.

Enter bootstrapping.

Here’s a little background about the term. As per WikipediaTall boots may have a tab, loop or handle at the top known as a bootstrap, allowing one to use fingers or a boot hook tool to help pulling the boots on. The saying “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” was already in use during the 19th century as an example of an impossible task.”

Bootstrapping

image source :sxsw.com

Bootstrapping in business parlance, means starting and growing your business with little or no capital. The entrepreneur attempts to build the company from personal funds or from the revenue generated by the new company.
Needless to say bootstrapping is also HARD WORK.

We rounded up a few bootstrapping tips you may want to seriously consider

Validate

All ideas are amazing! However what matters is if people are willing to pay in return for your product or service. Research the market, check if someone else is offering something similar or find out the pain points that are not addressed. It’s easier to monetize when you are offering a solution that is currently not available. Ask people if they would be willing to pay for solution. If yes, get them to pay.

Find a partner

Doing it all by yourself can be intimidating and stressful. Find someone (friend or family) who shares your passion for the idea and is willing to join as a partner. There are many who are keen on joining a startup as a partner but not everyone will have the necessary skill or resilience. Pick wisely. Look for complementing skills. Be transparent about what’s in store.

Crowdfunding

A great way to test your idea and get funded to build a prototype, is crowdfunding. There are various platforms such as Indiegogo and Wishberry that help you promote your idea to a larger audience for a commission. Watch and learn from some of the successful campaigns before you launch your own.

Home office Vs Store front

Time to convert that dining area (in case you don’t have a garage) into your office. Irrespective of whether your offering is a product or service, setting up an office or store front is a big no unless your business necessitates it. You don’t want to burn your pockets paying rent, electricity and other maintenance charges when you are bootstrapping. If you do need a office, try affordable co-working spaces. It may turn out to be an advantage networking with similar like-minded people.

Marketing

Oh damn! Where do I get the money from for advertising and PR? Fear not. There are other inexpensive ways to promote your business. First and foremost being your customers. If your offering is remarkable your customers will be your brand ambassadors.

Digital marketing is another low-cost marketing channel. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Blogs, SEO, Email marketing etc can be used effectively to grow your business. Remember that you don’t need to be on all the platforms. Find out where your target audience is and then put a strategy together to attract and convert them. Digital Marketing involves nurturing and providing something of value before you expect a sale. Reward your customers for introducing more users/customers to your business. It’s a proven customer retention method.

Cold-calling and speaking engagements are other tactics to promote your business without having to spend a huge amount of money.

Don’t hire. Outsource. Or better Do-It-Yourself!

Unless absolutely necessary, do not hire. Outsource design/development work. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn to code if you have to build a prototype. You don’t need to be afraid to learn something new.

Do your own accounting and business development.

Track expenses closely. Be thrifty.

That MacBook Air/iPhone 6 can wait. So can the posh office.

Avail free online services to manage communication/storage/tracking. Gmail, Google Drive/Docs, Dropbox etc have sufficient free stuff to get you through your initial stages.

Cut personal expenses where possible. Remember the quote

Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like others won’t so that you can live the rest of your life like others can’t

Track all the expenses like a hawk. Don’t use your personal account. Open a business account. You must know at all times what your pending receivables are. Closely track what is diminishing your cash. Use expensing tracking tools or better, use MS-Excel.

Network. Network. Network

People help people.

Attend networking/entrepreneurship events. Talk about your business and tell people how it solves a problem. But don’t forget to listen. You never know, you might end-up collaborating with another business or might get someone interested in funding your business. But don’t network only with the intention of raising funds. Be willing to help someone. Answer questions people may have about your industry. Join groups on Meetup, Facebook and LinkedIn. Not just groups relevant to entrepreneurship but also interest groups. Follow industry influencers on Twitter.

Persevere

Winston Churchill said “If you are going through hell, keep going”.

Perseverance is about not giving up rather than about talent or knowledge. You can’t learn perseverance but learn from the mistakes you make early on and make changes. Never lose sight of your goal. It’s better to take risks than regret.

If at first customers don’t turn up, analyze what went wrong. Tweak your offering or maybe your conversion methodology needs to be reworked. Re-negotiate that deal with your vendor/supplier. Ask for help. Do whatever it takes. But don’t ever give up.

Like we said at the beginning, bootstrapping is hard work. Entrepreneurship is a journey. If you are remarkable at what you do, it won’t be long before your dreams are realized.

We recommend you read books such as The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Rework by Jason Fried for bootstrapping and lean startup methodologies.

Let us know the 10th tip for bootstrapping. Better, share your bootstrapping experience.