Marketing Wisdom From A Downward Dog

The poster for Sarah Slater's Yoga Teen Classes in Hawaii 
Yoga. This is not something I know much about but my older daughter Sarah has become a big enthusiast. She is teaching classes and practicing daily on Oahu where she lives. So on vacation in Hawaii, I agreed to have her give me some private lessons and for us to attend her teacher’s class. Fortunately for me it was the gentle Hatha Yoga class which is a nice way of saying you are a beginner.

The class begins with laying out a foam mat, some blocks and a belt that assist you during the class. There is a calm and quiet as the class begins and the teacher works to create a relaxing space. Peaceful music plays ever so lightly in the background. An incense candle is burnt. I am reliving the 1960's and feel my inner hippie. 

Brigitte instructs us that this isn’t a competition and in fact we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others in the room. We all have different ‘body histories’ and different experiences. I like this but am an abject failure at suspending my competitive self. At least at first. 

Center of the Practice 
Breathing is at the center of the practice. Being mindful of each breathe and an awareness of each moment. This feels comforting and good for me.

Sarah tells me that yoga isn’t about stretching which surprises me because I thought that was at the core of the ancient Indian practice. Yoga is about quieting the buzzing that goes on in our mind and bringing our awareness of our self, our bodies and our being front and center. Everything always comes back to our breathing. 

During the class my mind wandered all over the place. I was amazed at how poorly I could bend my body like the others around me yet I kept being reminded not to compare myself to others. I was equally surprised at how exhausting it is to do these very simple bends, lunges and movements at a very slow speed. The word lunges reminded me of the wonderful tuna sandwich I had the other day from Andy's. 

I was also somewhat surprised that I was the only man in the room filled with about 20 woman which makes me curious why this is so female oriented. It was almost impossible to turn off the marketing brain and just breathe and relax into each moment. Breathe
Sarah Slater teaches her teen yoga class in Kailua, Hawaii 

When I finally remember to breathe and stop thinking so much about this as a marketing case study, I try and find my center, balance my breathe and get to my heart-centered position. As I meditate regularly and have for a long time, I understand the concept of finding personal balance and calm each morning. These ideas aren't that foreign to me but doing it in a group setting is still strange. 

Customer Service
I couldn’t help but notice how well Brigitte, the instructor handled 20 different people at different skill and knowledge levels all at the same time. She fluidly moved from person to person assisting one person by placing pressure on a hip or helping strategically place a block to make a pose easier. She intuitively knew what each person needed without it feeling like she was teaching or imposing her will. She was light, graceful and confident in her manner. What a great model for the challenges of a customer facing team who has to deal with different degrees of knowledge in a business.

I wonder how much marketing and sales professionals would benefit from an occasional class like this that stills the mind, opens the heart and allows each of us to really connect with the human being we are trying to engage. Marketing folks tend to have busy minds that are filled with overly long "to do lists" and ridiculously tight schedules always chasing the latest and greatest. 

And then I remember to stop thinking about this as a marketing exercise. Extending my hands upward, I breathe deeply and let out a long, loud sigh. I exhale and realize I have been holding my breathe and need to quiet my mind. I breathe in and out slowly and let go of thoughts rambling in my mind. And then we are still and quiet for 15 minutes. 


Note: When I am not practicing downward dog on a yoga mat, I am attempting to unravel some of the mysteries of marketing. Won't you come along on the journey? You can sign up at the upper right hand corner of my blog to receive my posts in your email. Namaste.

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