The last couple of weeks have been a roller coaster on Wall Street. Many people have watched their investments dwindle before their eyes as politics (Related: 5 Reasons Politicians Should Practice Yoga) and a shaky economy have gotten quite ugly. I don't know much about investing, but I do believe the principles I've learned on my yoga mat can be extended into all areas of my life--even my 401K.
Here are a few little things yoga has taught me about investing.
1. The actions of individuals affect the whole. Politicians, S&P, those people on cable television ... all of them did their part, individually, to send the markets into a whirlwind. Each muscle does its part to hold you in yoga poses. Each of our individual actions on a daily basis--including our thoughts--has an impact on the whole world.
2. Don't jump ship at the lowest point. Of course, it's scary. But sometimes if you wait it out, take deep breaths, and notice the feelings that come up, you'll make a faster recovery than if you had taken your money and run.
3. Diversify. Imagine a yoga practice filled only with backbends, arm balances, and heat-building Sun Salutations. It wouldn't take long to get burnt out, sore, and maybe even injured. So, we mix things up. We twist one day and forward bend the next. We work hard, then we rest. In finance, they call it diversifying your portfolio--you choose a variety of stocks, bonds, and other investments so that you won't lose your shirt if one of them tanks. It seems like good advice in both scenarios.
4. Everything is temporary. The saying "You can take that to the bank" meant a lot more to me before the recession. Banks were once a symbol of security. But then the federal government had to bail the banks out. Now, some even question the financial stability of our government. Yoga has taught me that every time I unroll my mat, my body will be different than the time before--and that's OK. I've learned to adjust to the changes as they happen.
5. Freaking out doesn't help. If you've lost some of your investment, going into panic mode doesn't do anything to help your portfolio. If anything, it will only cause you to make rash, impulsive decisions based on emotions. It's the yogic equivalent of freaking out the first time you try to kick up into handstand and flailing about in mid air ... you're more likely to injure yourself than if you calmly waited for your feet to come back safely to the earth.