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The principles of yoga are designed to help achieve physical well-being and mental acuity. (Photo: iStock)
The principles of yoga are designed to help achieve physical well-being and mental acuity. (Photo: iStock)

What yoga lessons can teach you about investing

  • Focusing your mind and establishing a sense of calm is one of the first things yoga teaches you.
  • If you want to do your own financial planning and investing, you have to start by educating yourself.

The ancient practice of yoga has transcended its spiritual origin and assimilated itself into the daily lives of millions around the world. The reason yoga endures as a way of life is the fact that its basic tenets are timeless and resonate with people from all walks of life, helping attain a healthy body and mind, as well as emotional clarity and stability. If done right, yoga can positively impact many aspects of your life, including financial health. This International Yoga Day, let’s find out what yoga can teach us about the art of investing.

Tune out the noise

Focusing your mind and establishing a sense of calm is one of the first things yoga teaches you. According to Shweta Taneja, a Delhi-based yoga instructor, this focus is a cornerstone of the practice. “One of the first things we teach in our classes is to concentrate on your own breathing and tune out all external noise," she said.

This practice, when applied to investing, can help you tune out the market noise—which might distract you and push you to make impulsive decisions—and focus instead on your own financial goals.

“Your finances are a very personal affair. Trying to time the ups and downs of the market can take a toll on your personal and professional life, as well as your health, financial and emotional situation. Therefore, it is important to keep your mind focused and detached from the market noise," said Shilpi Johri, a certified financial planner and founder of Arthashastra Consulting.

Practice regularly

According to Taneja, the key to unlocking the many benefits of yoga, including centering attention, relieving pain and stress and bringing mental clarity, is to practice it regularly. “We advise our clients to keep practicing the asans and breathing exercises in small doses even if they can’t come in for a class or go on vacation. Discipline and regularity are very important. If you stop doing yoga and then try to resume later, you will find that you have lost a lot of flexibility and other benefits you had built up," she said.

This principle also applies to investing. Just as the benefits of yoga compound over time, your corpus also benefits from regular and systematic investing. For instance, investing in mutual funds through systematic investment plans. “When you invest regularly, you are letting compounding work for itself and building wealth for you. When you rationalize your expenditure regularly, your habit of savings also adds to your wealth," said Johri.

Build a strong foundation

In yogic practice, the path to self-realization is paved with knowledge. “In order to internalize the practice of yoga, it is crucial to have knowledge and understanding of what the asanas and practices mean. Many people jump into doing yoga without educating themselves, but not only would this reduce the effectiveness of the practice, but it can also result in injury," said Taneja.

Knowledge is as much a cornerstone of investing as it is of yoga. The often-repeated advice of “don’t invest in what you don’t understand" can protect you from making bad investment decisions or buying into a product that does not fit your financial goals.

If you want to do your own financial planning and investing, you have to start by educating yourself. Do your research and seek professional help if need be, in order to understand the products you plan to invest in. If you take the plunge without the knowledge, the wrong move in investing can hurt you as much as doing an asana wrong.

Let go of your ego

Yoga seeks to conquer the “ego" or “Asmita", which can hold you back on your quest for self-realization. In investing, your ego can get in the way of admitting to investing mistakes and letting go of bad investments. “Your ego is your identification with your thoughts and actions. Convincing yourself that you are right can lead to repeating your mistakes. When you let go of your ego, you become open to change. And sometimes such a change is necessary for your personal finance strategies," said Johri.

Taneja also stresses the importance of trusting your instructor when it comes to learning and practicing yoga, especially if you’re just starting out. This advice too can come in handy when investing. If you’re unsure about investing or are new to it, accept that you need help and consider seeking the help of an expert who can talk you through the basics and make sure you don’t make any major mistakes when planning your finances.

Instill patience in yourself

Anyone who has had to hold a yoga pose for several minutes knows that yoga teaches patience, otherwise known as “Dhairya". “The principle of patience can be applied to disciplined long-term investing as well. It is important to tie your investments with your goals, whether it is a short-term goal or a long-term one. When it comes to long-term goals, it is especially important to inculcate patience in yourself, so that you can stay invested till your goal is achieved," said Johri.

We live in a time when instant gratification has become a way of life, and the temptation to spend what you earn, rather than saving, can be very strong. Internalizing the tenet of patience can help you bring discipline into your financial life, so that you can invest for what you need rather than spend on what you want.

The principles of yoga are designed to help achieve physical well-being and mental acuity, but they can also be applied to other important aspects of your life, like your finances. Properly internalizing the tenets of the practice can help bring balance and stability to your money life.

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