Instructions: Take your left leg and cross the left thigh over the right. 2. Hook the left foot around the right calf. 3. Bring the arms out in front. 4. Cross the right arm over the left and bring the palms to touch. 5. Lift the elbows while keeping the shoulders sliding down the back. 6. Hold 5-10 breaths. 7. Repeat on the other side.
This is called the Eagle Pose in Yoga. Why do I describe the instructions to you? Because I stood in yoga class last week, and tried this pose, and tried again. My foot kept going back to the floor when I wanted it to stay up. My arms came down as I struggled to keep my foot up. And then the instructor said something so profound that I thought everyone struggling with career transitions and job searches ought to hear it too.
“Hold the pose, even though your body will naturally want to go back to the most relaxed state possible. But if you hold the pose, this will become easier to do.”
There I stood precariously balanced on one foot, playing a one-person game of Twister, and desperately wanting to put my other foot on the floor. What benefit would I have to keep it up in the air?
Like me in yoga class (but with infinite more grace), when it comes to their careers, a majority of my clients are consistently going back to their most relaxed state. They’re searching for jobs on the Internet when it might be more advantageous to network; or, unconsciously choosing the same kind of boss and end up repeating troubled relationships from the past; or, taking jobs that don’t intellectually challenge them.
Just as the Eagle Pose requires concentrated physical efforts to attempt, career transition, finding new patterns and ways of doing things also require concentrated mental efforts. No doubt it is very hard work; initially, our bodies (and minds) will resist it, but the benefits of holding the pose are tremendous. You’ll find the more you hold the pose, the easier it becomes. In yoga, as in life, if you commit to practice, determination, and, an occasional pain, it can bring you one step closer to our occupational goals.
Yoga has nine major obstacles that are widely recognized. In order to make the most of yoga, you need to be aware of the obstacles that will attempt to disrupt your journey. We have a lot to learn from this practice if we apply these to our career journey – we can have much more satisfying work lives!
Yoga Obstacle 1 – Vyadhi: Mental or physical illness
Yoga Obstacle 2 – Styana: An advanced state of apathy
Yoga Obstacle 3 – Sanshaya: Concerns doubting the benefits of practicing yoga at all
Yoga Obstacle 4 – Pramada: When lack of persistence and will tries to take hold
Yoga Obstacle 5 – Alasya: A lazy and inert state of mind and body
Yoga Obstacle 6 – Avirati: Letting go of materialism
Yoga Obstacle 7 – Bhrantidarshan: Misunderstading your path: be clear and realistic about goals
Yoga Obstacle 8 – Alabdha-bhumikatva: Being victims of our own discouragement
Yoga Obstacle 9 – Anawasthitatwa: Not being able to hold higher level of consciousness, which results in your disappointment
It is possible to surpass these obstacles in your life and career. It’s important to focus on one issue at at time and not allow any obstacle to grow in power. When clients feel discouraged about not being able to find the job they want, I encourage them to go from saying, “Will I get what I want?” to, “When will I get what I want?” Commitment to the goal, holding the difficult pose and working through the obstacles and discomfort are key. Whether it is a yoga pose or a career move, we all need someone to tell us that “you absolutely can do this totally impossible thing most human beings can’t do, you just don’t think you can.” It is the power of the mind that will help us commit to a goal, believe in it, and ultimately, achieve it.
Written collaboratively by Ilana Levitt & Donna Sweidan