YOGA-ARTICLE: Raja yoga. Tips for a newbie leader

● Learn to control yourself

● Will is the main tool of a successful leader

● What yoga techniques will help to establish the strength of your Higher Self;

● Types of workers and how to approach each one

● Where can a leader draw inspiration from?

● Praise, words of gratitude and instructions are the steps to the success of your


● By expanding the freedom of others, you become freer!

«If you want to influence other people, then you must be a person who really stimulates and moves other people forward». Karl Marx

At a certain stage of life, a person may be faced with circumstances in which he or she will have to lead other people. This can be promotion as you gain experience and competencies, training and mentoring newly hired employees, or raising your own children. Often, when a person first encounters the responsibility of managing others, there is no understanding of how to do it in the right way. It would seem that there is nothing easier than giving out instructions and everyone around will follow them. But in practice, as a rule, everything turns out to be much more complicated. What to do if you do not have leadership qualities and you do not have the talent of a leader by nature? Yoga definitely says that if someone has any skill, it only means that the person worked very well on it in this or a past life. There are absolutely no obstacles to gain the skill you need or develop any talents.

Learn to control yourself

There is a kind of yoga for each manifestation of a person. Hatha and Kriya yoga work with the body, Pranayama works with the breath, Mantra yoga works with the voice, and so on. Management issues are dealt with by such a type of yoga as Raja yoga or yoga for rulers (rajas). Raja (Skt. राज, IAST: rāja — «ruler») is the Indian title of an influential person, sovereign, prince or king.

For a deeper understanding of this type of yoga, here is an excerpt from the Raja Yoga Narrative «The Story of the Young Raja»: «… just as your Atman controls the Atmans of your cells and organs, so the king also controls his country… And in any state the lower ones obey the higher ones, and trouble comes to the state if the lower ones begin to control the higher ones, which leads to illness or even death».

Only the one who is able to control oneself can lead other people. The axiomatics of yoga says that our «Self» has such a quality as will. What our Higher Self will, then it will be. The higher the degree of self-awareness, the more clearly you feel and can use your omnipotence and, accordingly, the more you can influence other people. In order to reveal your will, yoga has many tools in its arsenal. Let’s consider some of them:

1. The practice of «planned — done». The essence of this practice is that we set a goal for ourselves, and then we do achieve it. It is recommended to start with small, easily achievable goals. For example, your first goal might be to do 10 minutes of yoga every day for a week. Then gradually increase this time to 30 minutes. In the future, as you establish yourself in your will, you can set yourself more and more complex, long-term and ambitious goals. It is important to always fulfill what is planned; otherwise there is a risk of strengthening your own weakness and self-doubt. When you learn to control yourself, the people around you will feel your strength and begin to follow your will. V.A. Korchegina // Sanskrit-Russian Dictionary, edited by V.I. Kalyanov / 2nd ed., rev. and additional — M.: Publishing house Russkiy yazic, 1987, 896 p.

2. Meditation is one of the best ways to strengthen the will. Meditation increases self-control and the ability to concentrate. To do this, you need to sit in any comfortable position, straighten your back, close your eyes and try not to move for a while. Then switch your attention to the breath or any other object that you choose for the practice. If you notice your attention wandering, simply bring it back to your meditation object and keep focusing. In the beginning, the practice of meditation may seem to be very difficult. Sometimes a person does not even notice how scattered his attention is, but over time, the ability to keep attention on an object will increase.

3. The practice of physical yogas, such as Hatha yoga and Kriya yoga, will help you explore your body, thoughts and emotions, better understand yourself, learn to put your mind, body and feelings under control.

Tips for a newbie leaders

Tip 1: It is necessary to find an individual approach to each employee, to understand the motivation of each employee to work.

According to the treatise on Karma Yoga, all workers can be divided into several categories according to the level of self-awareness. The control methods appropriate for each type will vary considerably.

1. The first category is people who work because of fear. It may be the fear of being left hungry without money on the street without a place to live. For this category, work is just a way to earn a living. They rarely seek to develop their competencies or to advance their careers. By and large, it doesn’t matter to them what to do or how to do whatever it is; the main thing is that they are well and regularly paid. The best tool for managing this category of people will be the carrot and stick method. If you do a good job, then you get a bonus; if you do a bad job, then you get a fine. Such acontrol scheme is clear and understandable for them, and therefore it works great. The attitude towards such employees at work should be quite strict, discipline and control should be observed. As soon as they are left without the control of the leader, they try to avoid doing the work in every possible way.

2. The second category of workers is people who work for status, career and recognition. This is a higher category in terms of self-awareness. Such employees are excellent specialists in their field, strive for professional growth, have a developed intellect, are very efficient and talented, have creative thinking and initiative. They know their worth and understand that they will be very valuable personnel in any company. If such workers are competently managed, they will be ready for anything and will bring great benefits to the common cause. The stick method in this case should be used with care, as it can cause the exact opposite effect. If the pride of such people is hurt, they can go to another organization to your competitors. But the carrot method works great, both financial and non-financial. For example, it can be premiums, bonuses, company cars, club cards to fitness centers, medical insurance, and so on. For such people, attributes that emphasize their status on the social ladders are important. It is also important for them to hear words of gratitude and praise addressed to them from the management. The best motivation for the second category of workers will be personal growth and development of the business which they are interested in. For such employees, you need to provide a much greater degree of freedom; they have excellent self-discipline and are able to perfectly organize their day.

3. The third category is the highest, and these are people who love to work, enjoy the process and work because the work needs to be done. They do their job as well as possible, they have nothing to fear, which means they are free from attachment to the fruits of their labor. This is how the third type of worker is described in  the Karma Yoga Narrative: «… this is someone who works not out of fear of hunger and not out of expectation of reward. This is someone who enjoys every minute of work. When he or she rests, truly his or her rest is unsurpassed and knows no equal». Such people are not inclined to waste their time, so you can be sure that the work will be done and will be done well. The third type of worker does not need either control or stimulation. Such employees should be given more freedom for creativity and not be distracted from their work, and their mistakes should be pointed out carefully and delicately; any help and support should be provided.

Tip 2: Inspire, be an example for your subordinates It is a great success for any employee to have a boss who is passionate about the work. When the boss enthusiastically goes about his business, he involuntarily charges everyone around him with zeal for work. So if you want to be a really good leader, inspire others by being a role model!

In this context, an excellent example is the brilliant Russian commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov. As a child, he grew up frail and sickly, but the desire to work for the military service prompted him to harden his character and body. From early childhood, he strengthened his body and spirit with exercises, did not shy away from soldier’s work, for which the soldiers called their commander «soldier’s father» and paid him with a willingness to follow any of his orders.

You can build various systems to motivate employees and figure out how to make everyone conscientiously fulfill their duties, but if people see that the leader is working «for show», the whole system will fall apart very quickly, like a house of cards.

How can a leader stay constantly inspired by the work? Create a picture of a successful future in your imagination; it will be the best motivation for you. Add more creativity to your work. In any work, even at first glance the most boring and routine one, there is a place for creativity. Try to look at things differently, formulate the problem in a new way to find a creative alternative to the usual actions.

Tip 3: Praise!

Only those who do not work do not make mistakes. Anyone, even the most responsible and a hardworking employee, makes mistakes. The task of the manager, among other things, is to detect shortcomings, identify them and control their elimination. At the same time, not every leader remembers that it is important not only to criticize, but also to praise an employee for their achievements.

The Raja Yoga Narrative says: «Only by concentrating on the positive, you can increase the positive. Concentrating on the negation of the negative is useless». Therefore, be sure to praise your employees as often as possible, thank them for the work done, and then they will try to become even better and more professional. Of course, sometimes you can make a remark, if there is a reason for that. But any criticism should be constructive, to the point and without getting personal.  Remember to observe the First Principle of Yoga — do no harm!

Tip 4: Write Instructions

A good leader always clearly sets goals for the employees. There is nothing worse than a boss who vaguely explains what result of the work is expected to be seen, and when the result is not in the form in which he or she imagined, he or she begins to fiercely criticize subordinates. So do write instructions. This, firstly, will save you a huge amount of time for training employees, and secondly, it will allow you to clearly formulate the task and criteria by which you will evaluate the work performed, understandable to you and your subordinates. This will help you to observe the Second Principle of Yoga — the principle of Efficiency.

Tip 5: Grow yourself and let others grow

It is imperative to create such working conditions so that each employee can develop their professional competencies, as well as personal abilities and qualities. Now there are a huge number of advanced training courses, including online, for affordable money. The best investment is investing in educating people. Yoga tells us that by expanding the freedom of others, we increase our own. A good leader is one who knows how to organize the work of the subordinates in such a way that even in his or her absence the work will be done efficiently and on time. Allowing employees to grow professionally and not limiting their freedom to bring something new to the common business, you will be able to develop your company and nurture valuable personnel.

Leading people can be difficult. Each person is a person with their own characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, employees have different life situations, periods of ups and downs. Therefore, it is impossible to give any strict and fast rules that will definitely work for everyone. You can become a good manager only by gaining experience, going through trial and error. Leading people can be turned into a yoga practice if you follow the principles of Yoga: to be kind and efficient and to adhere to the main goal of Yoga — to expand your own and others freedom. Manage in such a way that employees benefit from this: develop in the workplace, acquire new competencies, have the opportunity to receive additional training, move to related areas or move up the career ladder. For these opportunities, they will repay you by doing their job responsibly; they will be interested in the success and development of the common project.

Learn Yoga and unleash your leadership talent!


1. Course materials on Karma and Raja Yoga at the Open Yoga School on

2. Treatise on Raja Yoga of the Open Yoga School «The Narrative of the Young Raja»

3. Treatise on Karma Yoga of the Open Yoga School

Article author: Ekaterina Daya

Author of the drawing: Svetlana Mauna

Editing: Evgenia Agni, Maria Gayatri, Elena Lakshmi, Nasogma, Inna Shakti

Editor-in-Chief: Anastasia Andreichenko

Project curator: Kerigona

Translated by Avlaada, Elena Lakshmi