Jade Allan is dedicated to guiding professionals to connect the dots of past experiences with lasting inspiration to identify a unique mission and find purpose in their work. She left a 10 year career in sales management in the online advertising industry to follow that calling and propel her clients towards a more meaningful life.
A trained yoga teacher and keen surfer, she brings lessons from the yoga mat and the line-up to her philosophy on leadership and self-mastery. Through personalised consulting, workshops, classes and retreats, she works with those who refuse to accept normal and strive to reach their true potential in every area of life. You can reach her at www.jadeallan.com
The effervescent Jade was full of enthusiasm as she narrates her personal journey with Yoga and “How Yoga Changed Her Life” during one of CureJoy’s many interactions with her. Enjoy some real pearls of wisdom.
Q: What are the false notions people have about Yoga?
A: That you have to be flexible to start. It’s like cleaning the house before the cleaner arrives! It is true that yoga can be a great practice to release chronically tight muscles and improve posture but more importantly, it teaches us to guide our attention inwards. We become aware of how we habitually hold ourselves, physically and metaphorically.
When someone says ‘I can’t even touch my toes,’ they’re approaching a ‘problem’ with a single possible ‘solution’ – presuming that to touch our toes we must be standing with the legs straight. Now, if we bend our knees deeply, or sit down and draw the leg up, of course we can touch our toes. This is how yoga shapes our entire outlook. We learn to let go of predetermined outcomes and create space to be curious. We find less problems and more solutions. That is flexibility.
Q: What does one need to do to capture the “real” essence of Yoga?
A: There has always been debate about what ‘real’ yoga is. With so many styles available from the fast-paced, aerobic offerings to more therapeutic or intuitive approaches, it’s easy to believe that our way is best or the most representative of the age-old practice.
Yoga has ancient roots and no one that is practicing or teaching today was present when someone first rolled out their deer skin to salute the sun. That is the beauty of such an enduring practice. It’s constantly evolving, like anything that’s truly alive. We draw from it what we need. The same class might energise one student while it calms and grounds another.
Our needs change daily and yoga offers us whatever we most need as long as we’re open to receive it.
Q: Do you think you can experience the true joy of Yoga while working in the stressful corporate environment?
A: This follows nicely from the last question. You’re right. The office environment is often a stressful one. Deadlines, goals, expectations and multiple people to please. When left unchecked, stress easily becomes our default ‘norm’ and this is what leads to health problems, insomnia and a general absence of zest for life. It affects everything.We receive alerts to remind us it’s time to defragment our computer or create space on the hard drive but we don’t have the same warnings about our own operating capacity.
Yoga can be the welcome tool that allows us to reset and find that much needed space and clarity. In my case, the 1 hour I spent each week in the yoga studio was the only time I really felt like me. Not an employee, a boss, a friend, a girlfriend or a colleague. That drew me deeper and I wanted to dwell there for more than 60 minutes per week. After a beautiful yoga retreat by the seaside in Cornwall, England, I returned to London certain that I would never be truly ‘me’ as long as I stayed in a job that didn’t inspire me and made very little use of my talents so I quit.
Yoga won’t be everyone’s path but it helps to quiet the external chatter to be able to hear what is really calling to us. So, to answer the question – YES, absolutely, and following that joy could lead down some very inspiring paths.
Q: What lessons from Yoga influenced your corporate life and people interactions in general?
A: I learn new lessons every day. For example, that there is rarely just one ‘right’ way to approach something and if what we’re doing isn’t working, we needn’t give up on the goal, we can just get curious about finding another way. For example, when we practice balancing postures, we might find ourselves tensing a lot of muscles that are unnecessary, really trying to ‘will’ ourselves to balance with brute force. You see this a lot in the face muscles. This causes tension and keeps the attention on one end – don’t fall over! When we remember to breathe and rest attention on the stability of the core, we stretch further and find a natural, easy equilibrium. This is powerful and carries from the yoga mat into all interactions.
My career also highlighted just how different knowledge and wisdom are. To demonstrate, look at AdhoMukhaVrksasana (handstand). We might read about the ideal posture, watch videos and even attend seminars for years but until we get into the pose and our body feels that alignment and strength from the inside, we never really ‘know’ the posture.
This has implications for the way companies traditionally train employees. Moving it from the classroom into a more experiential environment, like through yoga, can have a profound impact on cultivating wisdom, resilience and employee engagement. This is where I focus now, bringing together my experience as a People Manager with my unending enthusiasm for the power of yoga!
Q: What message would you give our readers who wish to balance their work-spiritual relationship?
A: The first step is finding how our work life is already supporting our spiritual life. It could be that it gives us finances to fund the pursuits that inspire us or that we are gifted with opportunities at work that offer the spiritual lessons like compassion, authenticity or purpose. When we can be grateful for everything our work offers us we can redirect the energy of fighting against what is to building what we truly desire in every area of life.
Work, health, family, social network and spirituality. When we focus exclusively on one area for too long, life has a way of intervening to show us where we need to guide our attention. Too much striving at work, for example, may invite ill health to direct us back to our physical needs. Overemphasising spiritual pursuits to the detriment of vocation may bring financial pressures to balance that too. In reality there isn’t a ‘work life’ and a ‘spiritual life’ – we are whole beings and we thrive when we are able to nurture all aspects of who we are.