Apply these on-the-mat lessons to your off-the-mat job search.
When you’re in the deep trenches of job seeking, the last thing you’re likely thinking about is yoga. You probably have more pressing issues to deal with. Perhaps you’re worried about how to pay next month’s rent or can’t shake that the dreadful feeling you’ll never find employment again.
Yoga can help these worries and job-hunting related stressors in more ways than one. It’s a great way to break away from the job hunting boards to refresh your mind and body. And, it provides some powerful lessons along the way:
1. Flexibility is key
While you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, it helps. The more you practice, the more flexible you become.
Job seeking is similar. Being flexible in your search and related activities will help you see open doors where you may not be looking. Sticking to a rigid job seeking routine takes impressive determination, but it could also be limiting your potential.
The universe works in strange ways. That person you didn’t stop to talk to because you had a routine to follow could’ve been a door you chose not to walk through. These proverbial doors can be anywhere.
Be open to the possibilities, be flexible in your day and remain curious about where opportunities may be hiding. Consider applying for, brainstorm how you could create your own dream job, take your search beyond the traditional job boards () and get out there and network.
2. Embrace the journey
This may be the hardest of all. We’re always focused on the end goal. Looking for a job is time consuming, tedious and frustrating. Embracing the journey seems impossible, but at least entertain the idea of enjoying each step of the process.
Can you find any benefits to being unemployed? Or if you hate your job and are looking for a new one, maybe there’s a reason to hold on for a bit longer. Stay open to finding the message or important life lesson in the job hunting experience.
Think about what you’ve applied for, the people you’ve met and what you can see yourself doing next. Take it one day at a time. One application after the other. Take each rejection or milestone as they come.
One potentially disastrous outcome of letting desperation rule your search for employment is that you could end up in the wrong job. Attempting to embrace the journey will allow you to stay focused on letting the process unfold as it will and taking the opportunity that is right for you.
3. Breathe through the difficult periods
In a challenging yoga pose, as in much of life, we forget to breathe. Yes, breathing is an involuntary action, but in yoga, the goal is to do it consciously.
The poses become easier if you anchor your breathing. If you get into a tight pose, breathe into your low belly or into the spot of discomfort. Where your attention goes, your energy will follow.
In stressful situations, such as job seeking, remembering to breathe into the discomfort can help you relax, feel better and reduce tension-related illnesses (such as tension headaches).
If job seeking gets to be too much, go for a walk or do something you enjoy to clear your head and reconnect with your mission. Sometimes taking a moment to breathe is all that’s needed.
4. Have faith in your abilities
Sometimes yoga students need an experienced teacher to guide them into more challenging poses. They may think they can’t do it, but with some guidance and faith in themselves, crazy things are possible.
We often don’t give ourselves enough credit in our abilities. It’s not easy to suddenly believe you’re awesome (p.s. you are!), but luckily, you can fake it to start. The human brain doesn’t distinguish between a real smile and a fake smile. Similarly, just telling yourself how awesome you are can make you believe it.
Take a little time each day, or throughout the day, to remind yourself of your awesomeness. Take stock of what you’re capable of, what you have to offer employers and what obstacles you’ve overcome to get to this place. And beyond just believing in yourself, practice applying for jobs and .
5. Beware of your mind playing tricks on you
We all think the mind is so great and powerful, and it is! We have the ability to learn and create and do all these wonderful things—but the mind is not always an ally.
It tries to tell us we’re not good enough, pretty enough, young enough or smart enough. Applying for jobs with that mentality is destructive.
For whatever job or career you aspire to, take steps every day to get there and notice what your mind is doing. Just being aware of destructive thoughts or habits is enough (you don’t have to try to ignore them or actively change them). Recognize them as your mind trying to hold you back. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
The hardest part of yoga is dealing with the mind. It’s as if the mind’s job is to distract us from our goals and lead us off our path. Notice when your mind is playing these tricks on you and don’t give in.
Repeat after me: “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough. I will find a job I love.” And breathe.
Amber Erickson Gabbey, MA, is a freelance writer, holistic health expert and yoga instructor. She blogs at with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to be their healthiest selves.