It's probably not on your calendar, but World Yoga Day takes place on February 24. As more people have discovered its healthful benefits, yoga has grown in popularity. But whether or not you practice yoga, you can apply its lessons to other areas of your life — such as investing.
Specifically, consider the following yoga-related themes and how they might translate into investment habits that may be beneficial:
•Balance — If you observe advanced yoga practitioners, you will be amazed at the balance they exhibit during certain positions. But for serious yoga students, the idea of "balance" goes beyond physical movements and extends to a concept of life that emphasizes, among other things, an avoidance of extremes. As an investor, you too need to avoid extremes, such as investing too aggressively, too conservatively or too sporadically. By building a balanced portfolio, and by investing regularly, you can help improve your chances of making progress toward your financial goals.
•Flexibility — Among its many benefits, yoga helps people increase their flexibility — and greater flexibility results in fewer injuries and an increased capacity to enjoy many physical activities. As an investor, you need to be flexible enough to adjust your portfolio as needed while still following a long-term strategy that's appropriate for your individual goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.
•Relaxation — For yoga students, proper relaxation is essential to achieving mental equanimity, emotional balance and inner strength. But relaxation doesn't always come easily — even experienced yoga practitioners need to work at it. As an investor, you also may need to train yourself to relax because, given the ups and downs of the market, it's not hard to become overwrought and make ill-advised decisions based on short-term events. Staying calm and maintaining a long-term view of things may help you make better investment decisions.
•Positive thinking — Our own thoughts and actions are largely responsible for creating our happiness and success, according to yoga teachings. And positive thinking can play a key role in investing, too. For example, if you were to constantly look at negative headlines, you might conclude that it is pointless to invest for the future because external events — economic instability abroad, political squabbles at home, natural disasters and so on — will just disrupt your plans. Consequently, you might decide not to invest, or invest in such a way that can make progress toward your financial goals difficult. But if you maintain a positive attitude, you may be more inclined to invest wisely for your future.
•Visualization — In yoga, visualization is often used to reduce stress. At any given time, you might find it difficult to relax, but you can use your imagination to see yourself — and put yourself — in a relaxed state. As an investor, you need to visualize your goals, such as a comfortable retirement, before you can define a strategy to help you work toward them. By seeing yourself where you want to be, you'll be motivated to take the actions necessary to work toward getting there.
Try putting the principles of yoga to work — they may help you become a better investor.