Autobiography of a ‘Yogibanker’

Name: Scott Robinson
Location: London, UK
Occupation: Banker and Yogi, aka ‘Yogibanker’

Scott Robinson side angle London.JPGThe ‘yogibanker’ was born in a yoga studio in Notting Hill, London in April, 2012. In preparation for 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 a while 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 turned yoga studio called Debut.

I look back at my yoga practice at Debut with much fondnessasana 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 Retreat Center, an olive farm converted into a world-class yoga retreat centre, approximately an hour from Seville, Spain 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 Serranía, in the north of Mallorca, Spain,where I met my lovely girlfriend.

Having built up my knowledge and practice, like every good yogi who has learned in 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 less 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 virtually non-existent, that half an hour before work with my YogaGlo (an online yoga platform) is a lifesaver.

Scott Robinson yoga tropics.jpgEven simply applying ujjayi 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 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 waya 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 Paramahansa Yogananda

Scott Robinson bio.jpg

Scott Robinson, aka ‘Yogibanker’ works in the financial industry in the City of London and is an avid yogi. Scott’s mission is to share with the corporate world the practice of yoga and all its amazing benefits. He passionately believes that the secret to professional success is to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle (including lots of yoga!). He also wishes to speak for the ‘silent majority’ of people that work in financial services and who are ordinary people living simple, holistic lives. Follow Scott on Facebook here and on Twitter @yogibanker1.


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30 Days of Kate

Name: Katelyn Martin
Location: Woodstock, CT, USA
Occupation: Recent college graduate pursuing a career in yoga as well as holistic health coaching.

Katelyn Martin tree poseAnxiety as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “A fear or nervousness about what might happen.” However, for anyone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, it can be described as “A royal pain in the a$$.” Having anxiety at times can be debilitating, I would know; it took me almost eight years to finally find a solution to enable me to take a hold of my life again. What is the solution you ask? YOGA!

I struggled through high school and college with anxiety. I was constantly fighting an internal battle; my mind was my worst enemy. I would spend hours upon hours creating unlikely situations in my head and sending myself into a panic about these very unlikely scenarios. Anxiety made my confidence diminish; I was unable to sleep well; I was constantly stressed out; and most of all, I was simply unhappy.

I found yoga during my junior year of college—someone dear to me had introduced me to it and I would describe it as love at first class. I began to understand that not only did yoga help me stay in shape but it also kept me grounded; each and every class spoke to me. I was coming to new realizations and revelations daily. It was one aspect in my life where I knew there would be no judgments passed. I walked into and out of every class with a calm demeanor, something that I had never truly had. I was finally at peace and content with who I was.

I graduated from college this past May with a degree in business. I was still unsure about what I wanted to do for a career, but that is common for most recent college graduates. I decided to take “30 Days of Kate” for myself. I took 30 days off from my job search and completely immersed myself in yoga, writing, reading, and learning about myself. I would not have described myself as a religious or spiritual person prior to my “30 Days of Kate,” but that all changed as well. I started to send gratitude out into the Universe, asking for guidance, and asking for help when I needed it. What I received in return at times was almost overwhelming (in the most beautiful kind of way).

I loved who I had become after only 30 short days and wanted to continue on this path of growth. I was practicing yoga both on and off that mat; I was more accepting of people, aware of my flaws, calm, and spreading kindness everywhere I went. I knew that this was the kind of career that I could wake up to every morning and love. I wanted to help people restore confidence within themselves and learn how to apply yoga into every aspect of their lives. How could I make this happen? I have now begun my journey to getting my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification, yoga therapy certification, and my nutrition and holistic health coaching certification. I am now passionate about my future and excited to be able to restore people’s faith within themselves.

Katelyn Martin bio photoKatelyn Martin is a recent college graduate who plans to pursue a career in yoga as well as holistic health coaching. Find her on Instagram at Katelyn_Martin.

 

 

 

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Balancing Act

This week’s Yoga Diaries are being presented in honor of the 15th Anniversary of
the Atma Center of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.


Name: Betsy Warner

Location: Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA
Occupation: Insurance Agent

Photo by Flickr User john.schultz.

I used to think I had a stressful life. After all, I was busy. I was running a small business, I had a wife and two kids, and my 85-year-old mother-in-law had recently moved in with me. As I aged and added more layers of stress to my life, I managed to juggle a little faster and beat myself up a little more because I felt like the worst multi-tasker on Earth.

At the end of last year, my life changed drastically. Suddenly I wondered how anything that had come before had ever felt stressful.

Let me preface my story by saying I have an amazing wife. She’s a runner, she meditates, she eats well, she’s joyful, she’s smart, she’s funny, and she’s taught me an immense amount about enjoying life. So it was more than a shock when we learned last November that she had a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. Without notice, we were thrown into a world that is known only to those who have been there; a world of more questions than answers; a world of Western Medicine and more appointments than I thought possible; a world for “other” people. Yet here we were.

Photo by Flickr User TipsTimes.

First, the shock was so intense that neither of us could function very well. We went from appointment to appointment, but the rest of our life was on hold. We sat down with the doctors and set up a schedule for treatment that would take us through most of the year. We had no idea how horrid the treatments would be, and how much suffering she would go through. It was all so incredibly overwhelming that finding anything normal about our days seemed impossible.

I’d heard over and over again that the “caretaker” has to take care, and it didn’t take me long to understand why. So I went back to my on-again, off-again yoga practice. It brought a needed respite in an otherwise chaotic existence. My wife hadn’t been able to work since the diagnosis, so I took advantage of some free classes I was able to find, and supplemented with a home practice and one class a week at the Atma Center. I don’t think I was feeling able to cope, but I was feeling able to be present.

And then, before the shock had worn off, we had more news that seemed so improbable it was absurd. I found a lump in my own breast. The lump turned out to be nothing, but the mammogram revealed some calcified cells that worried the doctors. After an inconclusive biopsy I had a surgical biopsy. Waiting for the results was torturous, and when the news finally came I learned that I, too, had cancer. We would need to proceed with a lumpectomy to look for “clean margins.”

Had this happened six months earlier, it would have been the most stressful thing to happen to us in years. As it was, I just wanted to get through it so we could put that behind us and focus on my wife’s treatment. Oddly, we laughed about mine being the “good cancer.” It was detected early, and needed very little follow up. But after surgery I was unable to bear any weight on my arms or lift them over my head for weeks. So I kept it simple. I remembered the breathing practices and started doing them daily. I was able to do some restorative poses. Then I remembered the balancing poses, and I worked whole practices around them. The metaphor was so obvious, but those were the poses that made me feel like I could keep my life on an even keel. Gradually I was able to get my strength and flexibility back, and I resumed classes.

When the Atma Center offered a special on summer passes, I snatched it up. I’ve been to 2-4 classes a week since I bought the pass, and I still do at least a brief home practice most mornings. Through all of the insanity that has transpired in my life in the last eight months, I’ve actually felt less overwhelmed than I was before this all happened. I’ve been able to give up the idea of multi-tasking rather than beating myself up about it. I’ve managed not to stress out about the ridiculous stack of medical bills we have compiled. I’ve been able to appreciate what amazing gifts we have in our life. I’ve been thankful beyond words for the help we’ve received from friends and family.

By the time you read this, my wife will have finished what we hope is her final treatment for cancer. And I can’t imagine going back to my pre-cancer “normal.” I can’t say all of this is due to yoga, but I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through this year without it; and not just gotten through, but be in it and appreciate it in all of its complexity. And though I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, through it all I have learned and grown and come to know joy in the midst of intense sadness. I have come to really appreciate that each day is truly a gift. As I continue to evolve on so many levels in my life, I am grateful to have yoga to help keep me grounded, present, and yes, balanced.

Betsy Warner is an insurance agent in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She lives with her wife, two daughters, and her mother-in-law. She likes to walk her dog, hike, bike, camp, garden and sing. She’s been practicing yoga since 2004, both with a home practice and a variety of classes, mostly in the Satyananda style. Betsy can be found here on Facebook.


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