About a year ago, in need of a mental and physical outlet, I discovered Sculpere, a yoga-ballet studio in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. The owner, Cristina Espaillat, a former professional ballerina turned yogi, blends the practice of yoga with the art of ballet in a uniquely styled class, in addition to holding traditional yoga classes. I began attending her classes while on the search for a new job. By attending her classes, I began to learn how to calm my mind (essential to find some level of inner peace while stressing over the hunt for a new job) and in exchange, used my marketing background to help her in promoting her studio.
Now employed full-time, I still practice yoga and use those methods in my approach to marketing. Here are the essentials:
Breath is essential in yoga. You connect with your breath as a way to connect with your body—and as a method of replenishment. When you think you can’t possibly hold a pose for 5 more seconds, do that move ONE more time, or reach that extra inch, your teacher will tell you to just breathe through it and you’ll be fine. Taking a moment to breathe is also a way to calm your mind and your nerves—a valuable lesson for marketers. Sometimes we need to take pause, just for a second, so we can remind ourselves we can make that deadline, put out that fire, and produce a successful campaign.
Yogis create a sense of community through their practice and language. Any self-proclaimed yogi knows what “downward-facing dog,” “savasana,” and “crow pose” mean. That sense of community is what connects each person and inspires others to join in practicing yoga. The same is true for the healthcare marketing community. This community is different than any other type of commercial marketing. It is a niche market in which terms like “regulatory review,” “FDA,” “indication,” and “fair balance” mean something very specific to the way we present information. Our collective goal is focused on health and improving people’s lives through our own type of practice—marketing. Celebrating being a part of that community is very important.
Flexibility is great for the body. It helps to prevent injury and allow the body to attain a full range of motion. By being more flexible, you can reach your potential by stretching just a little further—and suddenly realizing you can do something you seriously doubted was possible. Marketers also need to be flexible. Plans change, technology fails us, deadlines shift, and all the while we somehow manage through flexibility to attain that impossible goal…and achieve it beyond our own expectations.
Throughout a yoga class, the teacher will often sprinkle in inversions (essentially reversing the blood flow throughout the body by doing a pose upside down—like a supported shoulder stand). There are a few different purposes for doing inversions, including: increased circulation and revitalization, mental stimulation due to the increased amount of oxygen in the brain, and looking at the world from a different perspective. Although I think most offices would find it a tad odd to see someone do a handstand in the middle of the floor, the thought behind inversions for marketers is the same. Sometimes, you need to turn an idea on its head in order to breathe new life into it and see an opportunity. Looking at a problem from a new perspective is how you can fill the gap.
Yoga is hard. You hold your body in poses until your muscles shake, you push yourself to reach for that extra inch, and all the while the goal is to attain a state of peace and mental clarity. Endurance is essential in surviving a yoga class. Just like training for a marathon, your endurance increases the more often you practice. Marketers need to endure as well, and that journey can be rough. We must learn from our mistakes and keep pushing to hold ourselves to a higher standard in order to achieve greatness.
Every week I sit in class with men and women who are willing to sweat, learn from their mistakes, and breathe when it’s the only thing that’s going to get them through a tough week. With each class, we improve as we push ourselves and celebrate in each other’s new success. Take a moment to embrace the teachings of yoga and apply them to marketing. And don’t forget to breathe!
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- Inversions, Downward Dogs, and Mental Clarity: The Inner Zen of Yoga and Marketing - September 23, 2013