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What Yoga Teaches Me About My Job

James Gannaban

Meet James, our Marketing Manager based in Hong Kong. His #myENTERTAINERstory highlights the importance of work-life balance, and more specifically, how finding a passion for something has taught him lessons that he can now apply to life at the ENTERTAINER.

- Lessons From My Yoga Mat

Fingers crossed, I’ll have my yoga teaching certificate in a few weeks’ time. This is a testament not only to the work-life balance we enjoy here at the ENTERTAINER, but also to this rare professional environment that supports individual development beyond one’s job specs.  

I hadn’t always been on the beam.

In 2015, I was managing marketing within a shrinking print media business. I was burnt out, my anxiety was at an all-time high and I simply couldn’t keep going. After a decade of non-stop work, I took a career break.

It was by the muddy banks of the Ping River in Chiang Mai where I found yoga. Feasted on by giant mosquitoes and inundated by tropical humidity, I experienced serenity. What a welcome relief from the overloaded, overstressed burden that life had become!

Ten months later, a recruiter referred a role with the ENTERTAINER. How serendipitous! I was one of the original bloggers contacted to help with its HK launch in December 2013.

Alas, the prospect of returning to HK was threatening to trigger my anxiety once again. So I asked myself: What would I do differently this time around? I doubled down on yoga, hoping to find answers. I’m not sure that I found any. But what I was sure of was how yoga made me feel. Happier. Healthier. And more worry-free.
Here are some lessons I learned on my yoga mat which I now apply to work.

  1. Breathe. Breath not only powers movement in yoga; it also anchors meditation. Taking a deep breath is like hitting the Pause button - of and by itself, a disruptive force. Taking a moment to breathe gives my febrile mind a much-needed break in order to perform its next round of tasks well. Have I taken a breath for a sanity check? Have I taken pause to think things through?

  2. Align. If you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ll have heard the words “Bring awareness to…” - with the intention of adjusting one’s postural alignment from within. You can only change what you can see. Therefore, we’re challenged to look internally, observe, and make the necessary adjustments toward proper alignment. Further, every adjustment involves multiple body parts. Who’s involved in this campaign? What are the various parts that need to move together? When we’re aligned, we’re at ease. Poor alignment equals dis-ease.

  3. Innovate. Pain in yoga - as in our business and in life, in general! - is the greatest innovator. Pain is a message that tells me one of two things: (1) I’m growing, in which case, I must stay and bear this healthy discomfort for now, for the promise of better things to come. Or (2) I’m in a situation that isn’t serving me (dis-ease). Therefore I should seek change and do things differently. Happily, in a data-driven business such as ours, we can rest assured that our innovation is never guesswork between the two. We always know.

  4. Stretch. Have you ever wondered “Why in the world?” yogis get into such complex poses? It’s not just for Instagram, I promise. We put ourselves through challenging asanas because in the end, too much ease is overrated! That’s right. The moment I’m at ease is the exact, same moment I must push myself to stretch even further and explore my healthy edge. The further I stretch, the more I’m engaged. The more I’m engaged, the greater self-awareness I encourage. Am I challenging my limits? Am I capable of more? How much more.

  5. Practice. Yoga is a lifelong journey. It demands consistency and humility. Every time I think I’ve “reached” a milestone, I’m already setting the next. I continue to refine, improve and innovate. When I step onto my mat, I don’t “try” to practice. I do the practice. This is how I approach yoga, career and personal evolution. I show up and stay present. And tomorrow, I’ll do it all over again.

I’m grateful that I’m able to share the benefits of yoga with my colleagues during our Friday flow sessions in the office. What’s more, the ENTERTAINER app itself has become a valuable tool for community building amongst HK’s wellness warriors. Truly, we’re all connected. Namaste.

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