AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGIBANKER
The ‘yogibanker’ was born in a yoga studio in Notting Hill in April, 2012. In preparation of my first career change on a 15-year working holiday to the UK, the idea of ‘managing stress’ seemed too good to refuse. It took awhile I must say, until yoga became part of my regular routine.
My first ever yoga class was with a lady by the name of Julia. She encouraged me to continue with my practice, despite the initial resistance that I hopelessly displayed, so much so that she encouraged me to follow her to an art gallery, cum yoga studio, ‘Debut‘ on Westbourne Grove.
I look back at my yoga practice at Debut with much fondness – asana surrounded by contemporary, abstract art, became a unique and interesting practice. Deep into the practice, I often found myself gazing at a particular piece, so much so that I ended up buying some of them afterwards – the art gallery owner was clearly onto something.
From there, my practice progressed in leaps and bounds, to a proper studio, the Life Centre. After trying many different styles and teachers, I settled on my practice and one teacher and became a ‘yogi groupie’, only going to his classes. Perhaps I became a ‘yoga snob’ ?.
But, above all, it was two yoga retreats over Christmas in 2012 and 2013, that deeply ingrained in me the practice of yoga. The first retreat was at Suryalila – an olive farm converted into a world-class yoga retreat centre, approximately an hour from Seville, where I met the lovely and inspirational Vidya Heisel. Since that retreat, I have been determined to return there one day to complete my yoga teacher training.
The second retreat was in a beautiful retreat centre, ‘la Serrania‘, in the north of Mallorca, where I met my lovely girlfriend. After two years of living on the Eurostar, Susanne now lives with me in London….??
Having built up my knowledge and practice, like every good yogi who has come to the West, it was time to introduce and bring such techniques to the corporate world. I quickly learnt that the techniques and practices that a ‘yogibanker’ has are very powerful – perfectly balancing the competing demands of the workplace, all in the name of ‘sealing the deal’.
My regular asana practice before work has been nothing more than transformational. It’s like flicking on a switch as the subtle energies within my body come to life, leaving me feeling refreshed and focused. It’s no surprise that ‘Warrior II’ is my favourite pose, the steady focus that it brings as I stare down the length of my arms through my fingers, visualising the deal at hand. In a time-poor environment where the opportunity to get away and spend time on the treadmill during hectic days is next to inexistent, that half an hour before work with me and my ‘YogaGlo’ (an online yoga platform) is a lifesaver.
Even simply applying “ujayi” breathing, a conscious effort to slow down the passage of air in order to induce calmness and inner strength, is a tool that we all have, here and now. The many techniques of yogic breathing have saved me many a time, especially when I’m having to deal with powerful bankers, as if I’m the matador with his capote, gently managing the flow of the conversation in a way that makes me feel totally in control.
Being ‘cool, calm and collected’ are also the traits of a successful manager. Inspired by Buddha’s teachings, having the realisation then that anger is a mere ‘delusion’ of the mind helps me to become more mindful when managing conflict and making decisions…
The culmination of all these methods and practices was revealed publicly in July, 2016 for the first time in ‘Balance‘ magazine. A brave first step, but one that is necessary in order to be a “pilgrim” – to show others that there is a different path that one can take in order to reach his or her own salvation in the corporate world.
Indeed, the very path that the yogibanker treads is full of dichotomies and apparent inconsistencies. If we look around in life, we also see so many things that are diametrically opposite to each other – Light and dark, black and white, love and hatred, God and the devil…being a yogi in investment banking feels to me like something similar, too.
However, if we really acknowledge ourselves and accept that this is who we are, and the role that we play, we can find a way – a path that brings these two areas together, in balance and harmony.
To think that years ago I was in a completely different space… the transformation has been nothing less than remarkable. I thank many people such as Amanda Falkson, Maggie Richards, Satish Kumar, my lovely partner, Susanne , and many others for their inspiration and kindness in helping me on this path.
“When wealth is lost, you have lost a little, when health is lost, you have lost something of more consequence; but when peace of mind is lost, you have lost the highest treasure.”
(Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda)