Yoga is a practice in breathing, just as coaching is a practice in making choices - Nicholas Wai

Guest blogger - Nicholas Wai

I want to personally thank Nick for agreeing to write a blog for the good coach. We all look forward to many more to come. The insights which we derive from many of our daily practictices and similarities to how as coaches we can serve our clients even better....

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[Creative Commons photo by Eric Ward]

I have been practicing yoga for more than a few years now, but it is only recently that I have started to realise the true purpose of yoga – that it is not about being able to perform all those poses, but all about the breathing.

What brought on the new insight is a new teacher at my yoga studio.  Neil is only in Hong Kong temporarily but in a short time he has established quite a reputation for himself.  Unlike the very competitive classes that the other teachers lead, where many people pride themselves in performing and outperforming others in those demanding poses, Neil in his ashtanga and hatha classes would spend time explaining the essence of yoga, so we can better understand why we are doing a certain pose and what the main focus of the pose should be. 

He explains that the purpose of any pose is actually to train ourselves to breathe deeply and comfortably, and that the poses are there to put us in situations where we would normally breathe quickly and shallowly.  It is only through practice, with a calm mind and grace, that we shall attain Holy Grail of breath. 

Before this, I have always had in the back of my mind the question, "Why are we doing all these poses that we are doing?" and thought if it was only about stretching and being more flexible then it was going on rather slowly.  Now it all makes sense!

That led me to think about the purpose of coaching, which a lot of times are about attaining goals or making changes.  The thing is I think most people can do them if enough force or will power is applied, but doing something against our will equates to “doing violence to ourselves” quoting my favourite teacher Professor Rao. 

Rather, the yoga revelation helped me to come to the conclusion that may be coaching is more about helping our clients make better choices, by helping them think through the different alternatives and rationales, realise the values that naturally draws one to a certain choice, and puts that choice into experiment. 

It is, I believe, by practicing making choices that honours our self-motivating values and natural strengths and gifts that it shall better prepare us for all the challenges that will come up along our path in the adventure that is life.  With this intention in mind, I think as a coach I would be better able to ask rather than tell, and be less focused on getting to the goal, but rather, “more invested in the process”, quoting my favourite teacher again.