Yoga and the Economy, Part IV – The Economy of Yoga (Mind Work and Breath Control)

So far on our exploration of yoga and the economy/the economy of yoga, we have looked at how yoga, the most economical of wellness systems ever created, can help humans through economic hard times. I noted that when our economy is as weak as this one, it is likely our individual economies lose strength.  We need to attend to exercise, mind work, and diet in order to get and keep our personal economies-of-one strong. 

In the last article, I offered physical and breathing exercises that, if you are short on time or money, can put you on the path to strength, flexibility, and balance.  Today, we’ll look at a second part of the yoga wellness package:  mind-work and breath awareness.

Even if you are exercising regularly these days but are experiencing more stress than before the economy plummeted, you are at risk of personal economy-of-one downturn.  As we know, exercise takes us a long way on the path to physical and mental health, and when done with breath awareness, can take us even further.

But what if yogic exercise with breath awareness is not quite enough for you these days?  What if, like a good friend of mine, you are not sleeping well? What if you are feeling depressed or anxious or worried, and what if even one hour of sun salutations a day is not completely helping you handle your reactions to the world, or what if you do not practice yoga at all but have an exercise regime and still find yourself suffering emotionally or mentally from this recession?  What if you do not care for exercise of the body but want to start doing something to help you?

Yoga offers a solution for all.

Exercising the mind is as important, if not more important, as exercising the body.  It is crucial that we exercise our minds the way we tune our cars at the mechanic’s, or tune our bodies in yoga asana class.  A strong mind, simply put, helps us create and maintain healthy emotional and psychological perspectives.  Our ancients knew all about this and created within the system of yoga thousands of years ago two (out of eight) entire limbs of study dedicated solely to mind work. 

There are many, many mind-training exercises and systems in yoga. An internet search or a search on You Tube using keywords such as ‘pranayama’, ‘meditation,’ Yoga Nidra’ or ‘dhyana’ will fill your toolbag with tools for calming and strengthening the mind to function at its optimum.  Today, I will instruct you on two  of my favorite tools:  Alternate Nostril Breathing and Yoga Nidra.

1) Alternate Nostril Breathing (or Anuloma Viloma or Nadi Shodhana) is a deeply relaxing breathing exercise involving a mudra (hand position).  It brings a balance of prana to the body, balances the right and left sides of the body, calms the mind, and prepares us for meditation or quiet sitting.  It is a fantastic breathing exercise to help you relax, sleep better, and feel overall relief from emotions that do not serve you.  Practice regularly.  You will notice the difference in your life.

Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, against a wall, or in a chair.  Place the right  hand in Vishnu mudra and rest that elbow in the palm of the left hand, arms and shoulders relaxed and to the sides.  To create Vishnu mudra, tuck the second and third fingers in the palm and leave the thumb, ring finger, and baby finger extended and relaxed.

Raise your right hand to the face and turn it to face you.  Close off the right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril, engaging long deep breathing (see article three in this series for detailed instructions).  At the top of the inhale, close your left nostril with the ring finger.  Now you have both nostrils closed.  After about six seconds, exhale through the right nostril.  That is one round.  Do a round to the other side:  inhale right nostril (left nostril is still closed off), hold the breath, and exhale left nostril, closing off left.  You can do as many rounds as you wish.  Make your inhales, exhales, and holds as deep and even as possible without any strain at all in the body. 

2)  Let us now look at Yoga Nidra.  Yoga Nidra, an ancient meditation practice, helps restore physical, emotional, and mental health by way of deep, guided relaxation.  It is one of the least explored yet most beneficial of meditation practices and is available to everyone regardless of physical ability or age.

In Yoga Nidra, (‘yoga’ in Sanskrit means ‘unity’ and ‘nidra’ means ‘sleep’), the body and mind are neither fully awake nor in a sleep state but, rather, are calm, still, and quietly aware.

Yoga Nidra has many benefits.  It reduces stress, improves sleep, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, brings balance and harmony to the hemispheres of the brain and nervous system, promotes higher consciousness and inner peace, and helps us drop our unwanted behaviors and habits.

Physical relaxation, breathing awareness, affirmations, and visualizations are the basic techniques employed in a Yoga Nidra practice.  Yoga Nidra sessions range from about 5 to 45 minutes in length.  The longer the session, the more work the mind does, but even a five minute session has been proven to be of great benefit to practitioners. 

Yoga Nidra is a meditation you listen to.  If you cannot find a Yoga Nidra teacher in your area, purchase a CD or download and listen regularly. (My 71 minute Yoga Nidra CD, containing four Yoga Nidra sequences, is available at my website listed at the end of this article.)

In the final article of this series, I will focus on the third part of the ‘big three’ in a yoga wellness package geared toward a troubled economy.  I will talk about most yogic, healthy, and economic diet on the planet and how it can help you, others, and the planet’s health:  raw foods.

2011 – The Current Economic Indicators and the Economy Growth in 2011

Internationally, the United States is considered as the most powerful and the largest economy as per the current economic indicators and the economy growth in 2011. The US economy is hugely based on financial market behavior where business firms and private individuals make the decisions. There are a few key economic indicators that predict the future of a particular economy. Economic indicators which are important are Inflation, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Employment and Unemployment etc.

These indicators should achieve the main goal set by the Federal Reserve of putting monetary targets for economy growth. The current economic indicators and the economy growth in 2011 predict the growth of economy in the coming future. When the recession started, the current economic indicator changed to negative. This was a sure sign of economic downfall. Therefore, the economic health of the country is greatly affected by the current economic indicators.

The definition of economic health means the business growth, employment rate, currency value and many other things. So, for predicting the future it is of great importance to study the economic indicators of the current times. At present the statistics show that Gross Domestic Product of USA shows $ 48,000 per capita. As per the report of Economic Analysis Bureau there was an increase of 2.6 percent annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the 3rd quarter of 2010. The current economic indicators and the economy growth in 2011 depict that jobs and business have grown substantially.

The rise in GDP is an indication that the business firms are hiring employees and investing. These indicators are basically government released statistics which indicate health and growth of the country especially in the economy front. They influence the currency value of the country. Indicators based on the types of predictions consist of 3 kinds.

Coincident indicator: This indicator occurs in cycle with any economic event. It happens simultaneously with the conditions that it signifies. Company payrolls are an example of this coincident indicator. This is because the payments are made and simultaneously it increases the local economy. Personal income is another example. Strong economy will coincide with high rates of personal income. Although they cannot predict the events of future yet they can change with economy and time of stock market.

Leading indicator: These are the events which take place exactly before the economic shift. For the forecast of future events, they are very instrumental. Immense accuracy is exhibited by the leading economic indicator within the finance world. Bond yields are the example of this indicator.

Lagging indicators: The indicator that basically follows event is called lagging indicator. Generally, it is an event that occurs after the happening of corresponding economic cause. For instance, amber light can be said as lagging indicator intended for green light. This is because it trails the green light. The example of this indicator is unemployment. This is due to the fact that when there is an economic downfall the rate of unemployment increases. Hence, it can be concluded that the Current Economic Indicators and the Economy Growth in 2011 are co-related

The Relationship Between Seeking New Employment and the Economy

In many of the discussion boards, blogs, conversations, emails and other means of correspondence we receive, the buzz is about the poor economy in relation to their job search. We purposely have avoided that discussion. The reason why we have avoided it is that our business mission is not to change the economy. Obviously, no single business is capable of changing the entire economic situation. We have focused all discussions and efforts on our mission, which is:

“To help all those who desire success in seeking a new career opportunity by providing skill-based training that is time-tested and proven. To deliver real world training, not theories, in a proven job search system practiced on a daily basis and delivered in actionable steps.”

Nevertheless, we think there are a number of relevant points that can be brought out about job searches and the economy.

As a degreed economist, I may take a number of things for granted that are not common knowledge to many. It is no different than someone with an IT background discussing something with me and assuming some points that I am not at all knowledgeable about. I might think I understand but I am sure whatever I say would indicate my severe lack of knowledge in that area.

To set a baseline knowledge of economics, I will bring out some fundamental points. I hope they help illustrate why the economy is not doing well overall. Of greatest importance, I want to point out that those seeking a new job can still be successful in spite of the poor economy.
The most common comment I hear or read is, “my job search will go better when the economy turns around.” Or, “if the government would just get off its duff and create more jobs, then I would be able to get one.”

There is no question that if there were more jobs it might be easier for many to obtain employment or change jobs. The fact is that there are fewer jobs. With almost 36 million people out of work and an added 393,000 jobs according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. That is not much help.
How does the economy play into this issue? I want to make this brief and by no means am I looking to start long-winded discussions about economic theory. None of us have that kind of time. My purpose is to be of help, not put you to sleep!

The lack of jobs in the US is a result of the poor monetary and fiscal policy of the past and present administrations. For many years, Alan Greenspan and the Fed artificially lowered interest rates. The government also continued to print money. In addition, the administrations (past and present) have continued to spend money they did not have, continually increasing the debt.

Artificially lowering the interest rates creates what is referred to as malinvestment. Companies use interest rates as one signal to determine if they should and can borrow money for capital expenditures. If rates are low enough, they will borrow and spend on projects, expansions, acquisitions, etc. The problem with this is it is a false signal and the other costs associated with the projects, expansions, acquisitions, etc., are typically higher than would be acceptable to the company if the interest rates were controlled by the market. The end result is what many refer to as a “bubble” is created. That has to come to an end and when it does; there is the “bust”. Unemployment rises, jobs disappear, companies fail, and others contract.

From a historical perspective, this has happened over and over again. How the government responds is what really makes the difference when the bust happens. Keynesian theory encourages heavy government interaction. It wants to see massive government spending. It likes massive printing of money and more regulation of interest rates. All of this is done in the name of stimulating the economy. Other command and control theorists want more regulation of banking and other financial institutions.

Heavy intervention is the type of reaction the government responded with in the Great Depression. Unfortunately, it caused the depression to last until after WWII. If the governments reaction is one of letting the market take care of the problem, the response by the market is much different. Interest rates will go much higher. If money is not printed, its value actually increases slowly over time. If businesses are not “rescued” (read made public institutions) those that were inefficient will fail. While it is not painless, it is not as bad as the government taking them over. The assets of the failed company will be bought by other companies and they will continue the business. They may even take many of the former employees, as they will be increasing their business and have some needs.

Many see letting the market operated freely as unfathomable. Just as there are historical events that show the downside of government intervention in the events they created, there are historical events that show leaving the economy in the hands of the market and not doing anything heals the economy faster.

Just before the Great Depression of 1929, there was another depression in 1921-1922. It has received little attention. The reason is that the recovery was so quick is that it went almost unnoticed. Murray Rothbard stated in his book, America’s Great Depression, “In the 1921 – 1922 depression, government intervened to a greater extent, but wage rates were permitted to fall, and government expenditures and taxes were reduced. And this depression was over in one year – in what Dr. Benjamin M. Anderson has called “our last natural recovery to full employment.” (my italics)¹

Job creation does not occur as a result of the government spending of money they tax away from businesses and individuals. Nor is it from creation of money and deficit spending. Job creation is the result of savings and investment. The savings become the capital for entrepreneurs and businesses to invest in capital expenditures which create new jobs.

Real job creation is being hampered by the government. Increases in jobs will be slow to see real improvement. That creates an environment where reality has to be looked at for what it is and knowing how to work within that environment has to be learned. It has to be learned by those seeking new employment and those wanting to change employment.

I have said enough about the truths of why the economy is its current state. I have also said enough in this discussion about how it can be resolved.

Now let’s turn to how a successful job search can be conducted in the face of the economy today.

Even now, there is good reason why many can achieve their job goals. It is a matter of how it is done. In a previous article, Your Cure for the Symptoms of Unemployment. I addressed some of the problems current job search practices create. The bottom line is that they fail to help a job seeker find a job.

There are numerous industries that are doing well. One avenue that can be pursued, is considering another industry if the one you are in is continuing to contract or it is stagnant. There may be a price attached to that change. It may require some additional training or convincing of a hiring manager that your skills, experience, and accomplishments parallel their industry. It is not impossible. There are several keys to that transition. You must understand the industry you are considering. Heavy research is required. The second key is to learn what the industry’s major issues are, the opportunities seen and how companies plan on capitalizing on them. This requires live discussion with those within the industry such as; producers, vendors, suppliers, and customers. The third key is to present your credentials to hiring managers in a way that clearly indicates to them you have the skills, experience, and accomplishments to help them accomplish their goals and objectives. The 1960’s resume model which is commonly used, falls flat on its face in this objective. Then again, what other objective could a resume have?

If you learn the skills to transfer and integrate yourself into another industry, you will have a great deal more success than following traditional practices. The cover letter and resume to HR will only create disappointment in the majority of attempts. Those answering more job postings will increase the rejections. Contacting more recruiters will continue the silence you will get from most of them.

Why not learn the skills necessary to cut through all of the above issues and find the right job in the industry you currently know, or whatever industry in which you want to be employed?

Like any other learned skill, there are steps that need to be taken to master them. They need to be practiced in order to execute them and achieve success. Those who learn a new sport, learn to paint, learn to dance or, get an education to be a teacher, engineer, doctor, etc., learned those skills necessary to succeed. They did not pick them up by simply thinking about them or taking the advice of friends or even strangers. Most individuals actively sought out how to learn the skills to become accomplished at the vocation, sport, or activity they desired.

The same is true with learning how to be successful in a job search. There are skills that are easy to learn, but not obvious to the job seeker. With a little practice and training, they can be executed well to achieve success. Some of the changes to current practices are:

o Realistic self-assessment of skills, experience and accomplishments
o Knowing what resources are available to do effective research
o Stop using the time honored resume and learn how to present your credentials in a compelling way that will get the attention you want
o Learn how to seize an interview and become a competitive contender
o Learn specific techniques for being prepared for an interview and actually being in charge of the interview
o Learn effective follow up and seizing the next interview
o Learn how to get the offer you want with little negotiation, because you already know a great deal of what is planned by the prospective employer
o Learn what the steps are to preparing for the first days of employment that will set your career path on the one you want for the future

I am sure many have heard similar points. The difference is in the specific techniques and how to apply them. It is important to get that training somewhere. It will be the best investment you have ever made.

Neither you nor we can change how the economy is being handled. It is not terribly important if we agree or disagree with how that should happen. The reality of the situation is many are seeking employment the same way it has been practiced since the 1960’s. It has never been terribly successful. The lack of success is being highlighted daily now in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Why not take the road to success by gaining the skill training you need. You invested heavily in your career training, invest a little now to get your career back on track.

¹ Murray Rothbard, America’s Great Depression, (Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1963) 186