On 30 July, nine panellists from the worlds of business, mindfulness and health will come together to discuss these issues. Namely, that we need a new definition for success in addition to power and money: wellbeing.
Our panellists work in different fields, some heading global corporate companies, and they will explain how they achieve balance in their busy lives and the ways in which they give back.
We begin the first of our panellist profiles with James Muthana who worked in the City for 10 years as a banker, and left to follow his passion: yoga. He set up YogaAt.Com to bring peace and wellbeing to stressed out folk.
You left the City - what was about it or working in it that wasn't right for you anymore?
I enjoyed the City and learned so much working there but as I got a bit older I wanted more control over my life. I had also ceased to be really passionate about what I did and was bored of going into meetings about things that no longer really mattered to me. Partly I think this was just growing up. I realised what I had thought was important when I was 20 wasn't important when I was in my early 30's.
I had been doing yoga since I started in the City but it took me about 7 years to make the connection that when I did it regularly I was calmer, more focussed, better in my job and happier.
From 2007-2010 yoga became a more and more important part of my life. so when in 2010 I asked myself what would be a satisfying way of spending the rest of my professional career, I knew I should set up some sort of venture in the space.
What tends to stress out women?
Time. They have very limited free time, which is why a service scheduled around them is appealing. Perhaps objectivity too. Electronic communication means people are permanently on and therefore struggle to take a step back, gain a sense of perspective about what is important and get the big decisions right. Yoga and meditation help with this.
What do you do for a time-out when you feel like things are getting on top of you?
I remind myself that whatever the problem as long as my wife and son are okay then it's not really a problem. I meditate and do yoga and go for bike rides with my wife and play with my son.
What are the main challenges with running a business and grounding yourself? How do you manage it?
The most important thing is to keep perspective by being a little bit detached and doing the important things rather than trying to do everything and exhausting myself and making bad decisions.
It's also been a little bit of a challenge to find the right people to help build the business.
The other challenge has been dealing with the ups and downs. One day you see all the opportunities and next day you see all the uncertainties. I'm glad I practice yoga and have a family as they really help me maintain a sense of objectivity and perspective.
In what ways (big or small) do you give back to the world? How can we do the same?
The great thing about giving back in my experience is that I’ve gotten back so much more than I’ve given. I moved house a year ago and found there wasn’t a yoga studio near me so decided to set up a studio-Yoga West-which is in between Chiswick and Acton in West London. It has been such a rewarding experience.
When I go there I see people for whom yoga is having a powerful positive impact on their lives. They’re growing and are more present, more relaxed and happier and their friends and colleagues keep asking them how they can do yoga. It’s great to feel that you are partly responsible for all these people going through this deep, satisfying personal change.
What I've learned from this is that when you do the things you love other people tend to enjoy them also.
Do you have a mantra on how to keep balanced and happy?
I don't have a verbal mantra. When I am in a challenging situation I breath deeper and try to stay present. For me that is what yoga and meditation are about-being present and aware of yourself and your environment. My experience is that if you can manage to stay present good things tend to happen. I can't really explain why.
How can yoga benefit the busy, modern woman?
We're so busy and this is especially true of women balancing careers, family and everything else. As a result we all seem to spend all our time thinking about what we are doing next and what we've just done or we spend our time frenetically trying to get everything done. We're rarely relaxed, rarely present.
When you take some time out to practice yoga or to meditate you get more perspective on your life and that helps you to remember what are the really important things in your life and to make sure you are focussing your time and energy on getting these big thing right. Plus… if you practice a dynamic form of yoga it's a great way to sweat, burn calories and stay fit and healthy.
James Muthana is the founder of Yogaat.com
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