Project Management and Yoga: Not Such a Stretch

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When you first read the title, you may have been quizzical.

After all, what could project management have in common with bending yourself into a pretzel? While the two topics may at first seem incongruous, they have far more in common than you might expect. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on an Agile methodology. In some Agile practices, the Project Manager has been replaced by a Scrum Master. In these instances, the following analogies can instead be extended to the Scrum Master.

Flexibility

One of the key concepts of Agile Project Management (PM) is flexibility. In each sprint, or work “cycle”, the PM is responsible for finding what works, and what doesn’t. You need to identify problems, and then be adaptable to fix and work around them.

Within the practice of yoga, flexibility is important as well. You practice both mental and physical flexibility every time you step on the mat, and identify problem areas within your body (for example, your shoulders may be tight) and working on them.

Cycles

Agile PM is all about cycles. We iterate repeatedly to find the best way of doing something. Agile is about repetition, without inciting boredom. While you may be going through the same motions and steps in each sprint, each cycle will be different and you will be learning something new.

Yoga is also about cycles. For those unfamiliar with the practice, there are “vinyasas”, which are flows of individual poses that are repeated throughout your workout. Each pose in the flow connects breath to the movement, making each iteration of the vinyasa individual.

Communication

As any PM knows, regardless of the methodology you choose, communication is key. Within a project’s lifespan, all members of the team must be transparent with each other and continuously communicate. If communication falters, tasks may be missed or doubled up on unnecessarily!

Within yoga, communication is also key; not others, but rather with yourself. In yoga, it is important to check in with your body as you move through a flow and make sure all body parts are in alignment. For example, you may find yourself collapsing into a hip during a pose – if you are checking in with your body, you can recognize this and fix it.

Growth

Agile PM is centered around growth. Through each sprint, you receive a better understanding of what your team’s strengths are and how to capitalize on them. Conversely, you gain knowledge of your team’s weaknesses and how you can minimize and improve them.

Yoga is also about growth, though in a more personal sense. While you are increasing your flexibility and strength, through yoga you can also reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase mental fortitude. Who knew you could get all that from a few simple stretches!

Overall, the key takeaway of both Agile PM and Yoga is this: don’t let the practice stress you out, and instead use it as a tool for balance. If something isn’t working, communicate with your team or your body, and make modifications. Remember to stay focused, yet flexible!

Namaste.

Written by Andie Dumas, adapted from a presentation for Midcamp 2017.



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