Yoga and wealth: An 8-fold path to financial nirvana

April 21 is International Yoga Day. Realistically, the approaches to achieving the goals of investing and yoga are quite similar

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what do wealth creation and yoga have in common? Nothing much, you might think. Not quite. There are eight stages of yoga for financial freedom, which can roughly be translated as eight steps to follow. Called Ashtanga – or eight limbs – yoga experts say these eight steps bring you good mental and physical health if practised diligently over time. It’s no different when it comes to accumulating wealth. Let’s look at how these eight stages of Yoga can help you become a better investor.

Yama

is the first stage of Yoga. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should invest in only socially responsible companies. But we must be ethical in the way we invest. “Stop treating your equity investments like a gambling activity. Yoga instructor Bharat Chawda, who runs Om Yoga classes in Mumbai, says you shouldn’t buy and sell frequently.

When it comes to mutual funds, most of us look solely at past performance. When we make some profits, many of us reinvest our money in something else after we churn our portfolios. ‘Yama’ also teaches us to avoid unethical companies and fly-by-night firms. Investing in the right way give us peace of mind.

Niyama

Skipped yoga for a movie here or some junk stuff there? When you do this often, you develop indiscipline and your practice becomes irregular. Accumulating wealth also needs discipline. Niyama means discipline. Do not prematurely withdraw from your corpus. Dipping in your retirement kitty to make impulsive purchases or even skipping your regular systematic investment plan can derail your wealth creation process.

Asana

Asanas refer to the actual performance of various yoga postures. We know that we want to growth wealth. But to do that, we need to actually start investing. Think of investing as a series of asanas. Many of us don’t save enough because spending takes priority. “If you have monthly income of, say, Rs 1 lakh, and if you earmark 30 percent of it for your expenses and invest the rest, that is great. But if you spend 70 percent and invest just 30 percent, that is not good. You won’t build wealth if your expenses outweigh your income,” says Bharat.

Pranayama

This stage refers to meditation that calms our mind and brings peace. Financial experts say investing regularly brings about peace because you know your money is working for you. Think of pranayama as a mutual fund’s systematic investment plan (SIP). Bharat says that pranayama or the state of meditation and a series of breathing exercises don’t show results overnight. But if you practice it regularly, you notice the difference. An SIP is much the same, and it doesn’t show results overnight, not even within the first three years many times. But invest regularly and your chances of making a loss decreases as your tenure increases.

Pratyahara

In Yoga, this stage means that you stop being controlled by external forces and pay close attention to your inner self. It’s about what you learn by focusing inwards, how you better train your body and mind, instead of relying on what others tell you. Successful investing is much the same. Ever got swayed by hot tips that your friend or neighbour gives you? Keep away from Whatsapp chats that forever exchange ideas on the next best investing opportunity. “Don’t be part of the herd mentality and don’t look for short cuts,” says Kalpesh Ashar, founder, Full Circle Financial Planners and Advisors.

Dharana

Dharana refers to a state of mind where you are aware and conscious of what you have to do. It signifies determination. Successful investing also involves Dharana to such an extent that it becomes your religion or your way of life. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stop doing other things. It’s not abstinence from other aspects of your life. Instead, Dharana makes you aware of your responsibilities as an investor, ensuring that you adhere to basic hygiene standards.

Dhyana

Dhyana is a word that is common in our daily vocabulary; it means focus or concentration. Those endowed with Dhyana can perform their yogasanas easily, though it is not easy to achieve such a state. Likewise, you should keep your goals in mind as well. The goal of Dharana is to make you aware and conscious of the fact that you need to work towards your goal single-mindedly, while Dhyana is to focus you on the goal. “If you have dharana and dhyana and still your investments go bad, you won’t feel bad. But if you invest based on some tips that you got, and your investment doesn’t work out, then you feel dejected and disappointed,” says Bharat.

Samadhi

This is the final stage of Yoga. Being in a blissful state is what it means. When it comes to your money life, it means setting goals. It means reaching your financial objectives. When you reach this point, you do not need to stop investing. Now that you have the money you’ve been saving, you can spend it on what you’ve always wanted. This is the stage that all investors must aspire to reach. And it can only be reached if you cross all the other stages.

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