Inspiring Balance

Cheena Pazzo Claremore

I’m not your stereotypical zen yogi, and I felt like a bit of a fraud writing this. I know I need to practice yoga, but I couldn’t find a way to articulate its inherent place in my life and career. Then I attended a class, had a lovely 5-minute conversation after class with an instructor, and quickly found my words and inspiration.

Yoga is the study of self understanding, patience and acceptance.

I find myself pretty stressed out quite often. I’m one of those people who can’t take life in stride; there is always an injustice to be dealt with. I literally thrive in chaos. As my instructor Kody kindly pointed out to me, I enjoy an overabundance of “tapas.” One of the most powerful concepts in the Yoga Sutra, tapas comes from the Sanskrit term which means “to burn.”

I’m assuming most of you who participate in the feminist movement also experience a certain amount of fiery discipline. We enjoy a transformative energy, with the ability to develop and discipline the body, mind and character. We strive for perfection in all that we do. We produce results.

Let’s face it: all this burning is exhausting work. It’s important to understand your place in the universe, so you can grow personally and professionally.

I won’t pretend to be a Yoga scholar. The teachings are extensive, deep and multidimensional, and not something I’ve studied intently. In the interest of appreciating our busy schedules, I’ll attempt to offer my thoughts on how it applies to your life and career.

Finding balance between intense commitment and accepting my limitations is a constant struggle. It’s often true that the difficult path is a worthy endeavor. However, difficult things aren’t automatically good. The ego is drawn to difficulty, and you should first evaluate your intentions. Is your body strong enough to practice an advanced pose, or are you risking injury? Is a business endeavor adding value to your work and the greater good, or are you compromising your integrity and relationships to advance your career? If accomplishments are driven solely by ego, you’re missing the point.

The simple act of practicing yoga helps. In its simplest form, meditation and building strength is a refreshing stress reliever and you’ll feel better afterwards. In time, you’ll learn it heals your soul. After working through my initial competitive tendencies to be the best in class, I’ve learned that true yoga bliss happens when you’re able to detach from expected behaviors and live in the present. It’s that rare moment when you forget about the pain and struggle endured during a difficult pose because you’re focused on your breath. It’s the self-deprecating act of awkwardly falling out of a handstand with a smile. It’s the enjoyment derived from appreciating people and humanity.

Yoga is a metaphor for life. It requires us to surrender, and to act. While it’s in our nature to be creative and powerful forces, we must remember, especially as women, that we are all connected to each other and a shared vision. Our collective actions are powerful force, and I feel a great sense of duty for my contributions to society.

My time on the mat helps keep life manageable, and I encourage you to find your equivalent peace. As female leaders, we should practice humility and compassion, while never becoming complacent.

Learning to live with others begins with learning to live with ourselves.

Even after being advised by a required HR personality test that she was too intense and creative for the corporate life, Cheena has enjoyed almost every minute of her 17-year career in marketing and public relations. A self described logo cop, font snob and lover of music and semi colons, Cheena is an avid Yogi and subpar runner. She collects dogs, adores her family (wife and mommy of two) and might have a shopping problem. Follow her on Twitter @cpazzo.


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