I don’t work for startups but I know how it feels to be part of the startup grind. Your daily routines would include typing all day long, eyes being glued to the screen of your laptop or smartphone, and sitting for hours from dawn till dusk. All you can eat is anything tasty that can be served fast. You may forget drinking for hours because of the low temperature of the room you’re working in. At the end of the day you feel like your body is aching from head to toes. And to add more to the severity of the unhealthy life style, you work till the early morning and wake up after 10 or 11 am. Caffeine is your best friend. The pattern goes on and on until you find yourself badly near-sighted, feeble both physically and mentally. You then may realize you start lacking the power to perform physically demanding tasks, lacking physical strength and energy. Some people oddly enough can endure such a life style for years, and verily regret later.
But some others come to understanding that the typical sedentary life style commonly found in startups DOES kill them sooner or later. Of course everyone will die eventually but the thing is whether you can fully function or not while you’re alive. What can a huge startup success mean to its founders and team members when they’re diagnosed with degenerative, terminal diseases owing to the ignorance of healthy life style? The cost is not worth it all. Suddenly, it dawns on them. Everyone, entrepreneurs and startups workers as no exception, needs to find balance in life.
And I have to admit that the best workout I have known so far for 21st century digital workers so far is YOGA. How so?? You may think I’m exaggerating. “Just because you like yoga, you certainly endorse it,” you may think so, but think this way. If you really want practical workout that can ease the stresses , improve physical fitness and mental acuity at the same time without having to hit any gym or sign up for a pricey class, yoga is definitely for you!
I once heard my friend with his new routines as a freshman at a local university. He has been somewhat a gym rat for like years and then suddenly he couldn’t find any gym nearby. He misses the dumbells and all the equipments he used to use.
This is much different from yoga enthusiasts. All we need is only our mind, body and some space. You can even do yoga at literally anywhere, without performing challenging poses (let’s debunk this myth). Breathing more deeply and slowly is even already part of doing yoga. It naturally lowers the tension level your body is experiencing. It’s called pranayama.
I should say it is such a surprise to read some startup workers in another part of the globe really put this healthy and balanced life style concept awareness into practice by means of yoga (Read “Startups Kick Asana with Nerd Yoga in Amsterdam”). The reportage published on VentureBeat.com itself was written by Ciara Byrne, a startup mentor who happens to be a yogini and voluntarily provided a free weekly yoga session for these Dutch geeks. Along with her is Dave Sevenoaks, a key figure of Nerd Yoga (a weekly yoga class in Volkskrantsgebouw, an area full of startup offices in East Amsterdam). The yogi commented, ” We try to focus on the upper body and back in Nerd Yoga. People who sit in front of computers all day tend to have really bad posture.” Well, I guess he did make a great point here.
Another geek named James Bryan Graves told Byrne that startup life style is very much identical to unhealthy one. He mentioned how people he had been working with in a startup in the US were embracing junk foods as their main diets and doing literally no workout. “One guy had back surgery because his back had gotten so weak from doing development for 10 years that he literally couldn’t walk one day. Every time I go to yoga, I think about this particular individual and how I don’t want to end up like that,” Mr. Graves added. Enough said. He decided to choose different path.
But again, even though some startup workers are fully aware of the fact that they have been living in a wrong life style, they still have to conquer stereotypes in their minds: “Yoga is ONLY for my moms and chicks. Real men don’t do yoga.” I wonder what Sting and Adam Levine would say about this.
And considering how male-dominated tech world and startups environment are, the effeminate image of yoga lingers in the minds of our startup workers (who, correct me if I’m wrong, mostly too are young males).
But really if you want to do yoga without being intimidated by the image of flexible females or feeling emasculated when mingling with girls and middle-aged women, you can try broga (a manly version of yoga) or simply invite a yoga teacher to your startup ‘fraternity’.
At the end, it all comes down to one thing: building a successful business is not a sprint. Instead, it’s a marathon. Startup workers should never feel guilty for taking a rest from the routines to do some yoga because it eventually rewards them even more.