Yoga is more than a set of postures, it's a way of life. I talk a lot about how yoga weaves its way into the fabric of your life, and there's certainly more to life than stretching and meditating. There just comes a point when it no longer makes sense to compartmentalize our yoga, when we can't help but apply what we learn in yoga to all the other stuff in our lives. For a while, I graced the twitter-verse with a series of "Yoga-fy Your Life" tips: little reminders to bring yoga into your everyday life, in 140 characters or less, of course. Now, Yoga-fy Your Life is finding new life here on the blog, with a series about all the myriad ways we can apply what we learn on our mats to shape up the rest of our lives. And we'll start with something that most of us could work on: Money.
Around my house, we used to have a habit of regular household business meetings. We call them Kumie Korp meetings because Kumie is our sweetheart name for each other and Korp is for corporation, and, well, yeah that's pretty dorky, I know. But all dorkiness aside, these meetings kept our household budget in a good place, ensuring that we weren't doing stupid things like hemorrhaging money eating out all the time or not saving a dime. These meetings were also where we would set goals and dream about the bigger picture, too, so we could put our money to work towards actually realizing the things for which we were trading our precious time. After all, money is not the be all and end all, but rather a means to build those things that make life more enjoyable.
Somewhere along the line, we dropped off doing these Kumie Korp meetings. We just lost sight of them in all the other stuff we were doing. We had gained some foundations from doing those meetings regularly that stayed rooted in our hiatus. But, our money certainly didn't grow and shape up as much as it would have with regular attention and cultivation. Well, inspired in part by last week’s sutra, we thought it might behoove our money practice to revive it and crank it back up for the long haul. Just like our yoga practice grows and becomes firmly rooted with regular attention, so too should our money. And with this, we started to realize more connections between some of our favorite lessons from the mat and managing our money.
Never Compromise Your Foundations
We have to have solid foundations to build anything that will withstand the tests of time and all those little unforeseen circumstances along the way. When we do a posture, we first give our attention to foundations, hands or feet for example, and build up from there. The foundation of your money is your savings. No matter what your financial situation is, if you don’t have savings, you are at risk of crumbling, just like your posture will crumble without clear hands or feet to stand on. Our rule is 10%. Whatever money comes in to our house, 10% immediately goes to paying our savings. Always.
Pay Attention to Details
(A.K.A. Don’t Forget Your Mula Bandha!)
You think you know what downward dog is until you get a taste of downward dog Maya Yoga style: inner triads, fingers, elbows, shoulders, sitting bones, knees, toes, spine, gaze, breath... What the what? If you’re not paying attention to the details of your pose, you’re likely leaking energy, especially out your mula bandha! In the same way, maybe you think you know where your money goes until you start to pay attention to every penny. Suddenly, things can look and feel very different. That coffee you buy every now and then is actually adding up to $300 a month, or the occasional meal out looks more like $700 a month when you track every expenditure. Sure, it takes some diligence. But, isn't it worth it to plug those leaks in your ship? Pay attention to the details and your weaknesses will be revealed, along with opportunities to cut the fat and get more out of every buck.
Keep Sight of the Big Picture
Details are necessary, but don’t get so lost in them that you have no vision of the bigger picture. Work out the details of downward dog, for example, and at a certain point you get to feel it for the entire body pose that downward dog actually is. It’s magnificent! In the same way, we want our money to be working towards something larger, towards shaping a life that includes all of our glorious dreams and the things we enjoy doing. Arrange your details so your money is always working to build your big picture.
Do Your Practice Every Day
A little bit of attention to your asana practice every day will do so much more for you than a lot of practice every now and then. Same goes for money. Whatever your budgeting practice looks like, give it a little attention every day, for a long time, and you look up one day to discover that your situation has completely transformed for the better. The changes happen incrementally, and some are imperceptible until they accumulate upon each other. Like Pattabhi Jois famously said, “Do your practice, and all is coming.”
Remember to Breathe!
Resources to Help Yoga-fy Your Money
Interested in everyday tools to help you build your money practice? These are a few of the tools I currently use or have used in the past to help clear up my practice:
Mint - free, intuitive, and easy budgeting tool and my personal favorite at the moment
YNAB - budgeting software with educational courses for the industrious and precocious budgeter
EEBA - the tried and true envelope budgeting system made digital