Back to the Basics

Posted on August 24, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Yoga has always been a practice that I dive into and out of depending on my state of mind.  I will go every week for 3 months and then not once for 6 months.  I first discovered Yoga when I was 23 years old and a freshly minted banker on Wall Street.  The transition from a life of freedom and nourishment in college, to one of shackles and pressure was weighing on me to the point where I was modeling in my dreams and waking up stressed and exhausted.  Days began to bleed together and I decided that I needed some escape from the job.  Every morning I walked by a Yoga studio in midtown on my way from the subway to the office and one day I decided to wake up extra early and try it out before work.  What I found was that most of the practice was about shedding context and devoting 100% of your attention inwardly to yourself.  I would leave that class remembering that I existed independent of the loudest temporal influences on my time and mindshare, and that was super helpful in grinding it out.

Aside: I can’t discuss my experience practicing Yoga during that year without mentioning a short lesson on why exercise with colleagues is a risky pursuit.  A few months into pre-work Yoga, I began to evangelize the merits of this practice to my fellow analysts at work.  Everyone was experiencing the same pressures, so I would try to wrangle them into coming with me in the morning.  I used to sit next to this incredibly sweet girl who was sort of soft spoken, extremely fair skinned, and easily flustered into a tomato red state.  She finally agreed to join me one morning, and we met at the studio to begin her discovery of the calm that I promised.  In a class of about 10 people, she lined up next to me and we began to move through the instructions of our teacher.  After about 10 minutes the teacher called for us to spread our feet into a standing straddle, and bend at the waste to touch the floor (effectively propelling our butts into the air).  At this juncture, my coworker let loose one of the loudest and most apparent farts I have ever heard in my 28 years on earth.  There was no ambiguity around the culprit of this act, and she wore her guilt on her face to the tune of a beet red complexion and a countenance of pure humiliation.  The next 50 minutes were incredibly awkward, she raced out as soon as the class ended, and we never spoke of it again.  Needless to say, that was the first and last class she ever came to with me.

Anyway, back to business.  After probably a year long hiatus, last night I dropped into the 9:00PM Yoga to the People session on St Marks between 2nd and 3rd.  The teacher said something during the class which I found particularly interesting: “There is more power in harmony than there is in chaos.”  I found it interesting because it was not a trite statement that “chaos is bad and harmony/calm is good,” but rather a recognition that there is, in fact, a real power in chaos.  I think in a world of hyper-multitasking and constant frenetic execution, my natural inclination is actually more toward harnessing that chaotic energy into results, but her words reminded me to check back into harmonious (or calm) execution more often than I do.  I think there is actually a place for both in the life of an entrepreneur, and it is worth becoming proficient in both styles.  The New York Times has been running a series on how technology is changing our brains (MUST READ) under the basic thesis (with scientific support) that with increasing volume of data stimulus we are rewiring our brains toward attention deficit and away from focus and sustained attention.  Similar to my Yoga teacher’s call for an attention and practice toward harmonious execution, I have begun to control the amount of twitter/SMS/Email I engage with, in an effort to strengthen and remain facile in both the style of execution that technology is mandating I master (hyper-multitasking), as well as the one it is slowly conquering.

If you feel like the startup game has got you wrapped up in context (which it probably has), drop in to Yoga to the People.  It’s donation based, so even those bootstrapped to the teeth can enjoy.



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4 Responses to “Back to the Basics”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

I’m a yoga to the people goer.

I would be honored to fart next to you one day, Jordan.

done. I’m going to try to stick to that 9PM slot a few days a week.

Coop, I’m a little shocked that ” one of the loudest and most apparent farts I have ever heard” did not come from within my office…

Clearly I need to try harder.

What’s also interesting is that because technology has provided us with constant information flow, society now places value on the ability to cope with it, aka multitask. Look at the description of any high-value job and you’re likely to see ability to multitask as a qualification. I think this expectation contributes to people wearing, as a sort of merit badge, their “Always on” lifestyle. Whereas, in reality, if you believe that NY times article, it sounds like that merit badge should may be a demerit badge that says “I have trouble focusing on any one thing”. =)


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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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