I have been practicing yoga for over a decade. I love the physical and mental benefits it provides. Yoga makes me stronger and more flexible and helps counteract the effects of sitting in a chair at my desk all day. Yoga is also a great stress reliever, it helps clear my mind and keeps me grounded and focused. I love how I feel after a great yoga class – strong and self-sufficient, but balanced and calm.

As I was practicing recently, it occurred to me that a number of the lessons I have learned from my yoga practice can also be applied in our financial life:

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1. Concentrate on your own mat.

It can be tempting to compare yourself to the people around you in a yoga class. There is always someone who can lean a little deeper or hold a pose a little longer than you.

It’s important not to worry about what the person next to you is doing. Instead, focus your attention and energy on practicing on your own mat.

This same philosophy can also be applied in our financial lives. You will be better served by ignoring what your neighbor is doing with their finances. Their investment allocation may be right for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s the one that will best help you achieve your goals. You may envy their seemingly lavish lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean they’re on the right track for retirement. Ignore what you see other people doing with their finances and focus on yourself instead.

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2. Pay attention.

A young woman is doing yoga.

One of the benefits I get from yoga is that it helps me be more aware. Through yoga, I find myself constantly more aware of my surroundings, feelings and actions, living more thoughtfully and purposefully in the present.

It can be easy to get carried away by the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to pay attention all the time. I find this to be true in personal finance as well, especially when it comes to spending. It’s too easy to absently swipe a credit card, spontaneously add it to our Amazon cart without thinking, or overdo it with expensive take out.

One of the best things you can do to build wealth is to control your savings rate, which means controlling your spending. Unfortunately, very few people have a clear idea of ​​what they are spending their money on. There are different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your spending decisions, such as tracking where every dollar you spend is going or asking yourself if you are buying something that you are buying. need or something that you want to.

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3. Look beyond the swings.

A woman looks uncomfortable as she tries to take a yoga pose.

There are times during my yoga practice when I constantly find myself wobbling and falling, struggling to find my balance. When I find myself swinging and struggling to stay in the pose, I take a deep breath, look across the room and find my drishti – a stain on the wall that doesn’t move that I can focus my gaze on to help me stay steady until the swings pass.

Sometimes the stock market experiences “wobbly” days as well, which can be unsettling for many investors. Usually the best thing you can do in times of market volatility is to take a deep breath, look ahead, and focus on your business. drishti: Remember your long term goals, review your financial plan, and keep in mind that you put your plan in place when your emotions weren’t too strong. Maintaining your focus for the long haul is one of the easiest ways to stay the course despite market volatility.

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4. Make adjustments, don’t give up.

A yoga teacher adjusts a student's pose.

On days when everything seems more difficult than usual, I am sometimes tempted to give up. Rather than stopping, I pause, breathe, and then make small adjustments. It could mean using a yoga block to support myself or just bending my knees more deeply. The important thing is to modify by small touches which still allow me to continue my practice. I have found that this approach also works well in times of market volatility.

If the volatility of the market scares you and you are tempted to sell everything in a panic, don’t stop investing. Instead, try to make some minor adjustments first. You can sell just enough stocks to cover a year of cash expenses, or you can “switch” your portfolio from a 60/40 stock / bond mix to a 40/60 stock / bond mix. You can also reduce your expenses instead of your stock allowance. The important thing is not to give up completely.

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5. Do nothing.

A woman is lying in the grass, totally relaxed.

Savasana, one of my favorite poses, occurs at the end of the practice and is a meditative posture where you lie on your back in total relaxation, bringing stillness to your body and mind. It sounds easy, but it can be difficult to just let go and resist the urge to move or move. We are all so used to the idea that you have to act or move to accomplish something, but taking the time to do nothing in Savasana is what allows me to reap and reap the benefits of the hard work I just did. . This same premise also applies to investing.

Investors often think that constant trading, trying to time the market, or picking the next trending stock is the best way to accumulate wealth – it is not. In fact, a Fidelity study has already found that the best performing accounts belong to people who forgot they had an account!

Once you have worked on your financial plan and your asset allocation, do a financial Savasana: do nothing. Resist the urge to change your investment plan or portfolio at the slightest hint of market volatility. Unless there has been a significant change in your life that requires updating your financial plan, take some time to relax and reap the rewards of the hard work you just did.

I hope these lessons I have learned from my yoga practice can help relieve some of the financial stress you are feeling in your life.


Senior Wealth Advisor, Boston Private, an SVB Company

Kathleen Kenealy, CFP®, CPWA® is Director of Financial Planning and Senior Wealth Advisor for Boston Private, an SVB company. She specializes in working with successful individuals and families to manage, protect and grow their assets. Kenealy provides advice on investment, retirement, philanthropic, estate and tax strategies.