Yoga & Leadership: How to Develop Enlightened Leaders

I was recently at a live event and delivered this short talk about the need for enlightened leaders and how Yoga plays an important role in the development of human consciousness. 

The night before, I could not sleep…and it was not because I had to stand on stage and deliver a talk.

When I woke up, I realized why – the full moon was shining so magnificently in the night sky. It was calling me. 

The full moon in Pisces. 

yoga in leadership

Source: Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

It was calling forth the longing in my heart, as if to say, “come…become FULLY EXPRESSED like me.”

I was utterly captivated. 

As I watched its milky presence in the sky – it struck me – that the moon has been a witness to our planet earth for as long as the planet has existed…and the entire history of humanity was just a blip in its timeline.

One of my favorite books is a book called simply Where are you going? By Swami Muktananda 

And I think that title is a great starting point for our discussion today: Where ARE we going? 

Can you feel that we are on a collective massive escalator ride into a whole new world order? 

There are lots of shifts and disruptions and commotions all over the world – but as we find ourselves in 2019 – have we really progressed? 

Where have we come from, and what are we supposed to do?

And what is the true nature of progress that we seek? 

Here in America, we live in a nation of desensitized, overstimulated, over drugged, highly distracted world. I hate to paint this bleak picture, but let’s look at some of the facts: 

According to studies, the average American watches nearly 6 hours of TV a day. 

And whether you believe that the average attention span of an adult human is 8 seconds, one second less than a goldfish, that’s a lot of TV time!

The use of antidepressants has jumped by 65% in the past 15 years. One in every six adults takes some form of antidepressants in our country. 

Now let’s look at the environmental statistics: 

© Marc Simon
Oil Pump Spilling Oil over Globe

  • Every year, we extract an estimated 55 billion tons of fossil energy, minerals, metals and biomass from the Earth.
  • The world has already lost 80% of its forests and we’re continually losing them 
  • At the current rate of deforestation, 5-10% of tropical forest species will become extinct every decade.
  • Every hour, 1,692 acres of productive dry land become desert.
  • We have a garbage island floating in our ocean, mostly comprised of plastics – the size of India, Europe and Mexico combined! 
  • We are using up 50% more natural resources than the Earth can provide. At our current population, we need 1.5 Earths, which we do not have.


We are literally eating away the Earth – and honestly, is shifting to Mars really the solution? Is this really going to address and change the negative patterns we’ve been on?   

In addition to the environmental crises, there are more than 40 active conflicts around the world at this very moment.

Besides Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine, which are well known, there are forgotten conflicts that are still brewing from Colombia to Kashmir to Western Sahara – which are just as devastating for the people who live there.

If we have truly progressed as a human species, as a civilization, why is there so much hostility and hatred among political parties, races, and classes? Why are there still wars in the name of religion? 

So what’s the solution? 

To illustrate how we’re currently trying to solve the problem, I’d like to tell you a story: 

Source: Letters from Port Transience

Once upon a time, there was a man named Nasruddin. He was out one dark night, searching frantically for something under a streetlight. 

An inquisitive passerby, wanting to be helpful, asked, “What are you searching for Sir?” 

“I’ve lost my key” replied Nasruddin. 

Since the passerby was a good Samaritan, he joined Nasruddin and – they both got down on their knees and started to search everywhere. 

After some fruitless searching, he had the urge to ask, “Nasruddin, where was the exact place you lost the key again?” 

Nasruddin replied matter-of-factly, “Oh, I lost the key in the house,” replied.

Frustrated and annoyed, the man asked, “Then why in the world are you searching for it in the street?” 

Nasruddin looked at him innocently and replied, “Because there is more light here.” 

The point is, we need to look for what we’re looking for in the right place, even if it’s hard to look for it there.

It’s easy to look outside. Not so easy to look within. 

The notion that the real New Frontier is Mars is sexy and alluring. Hey, I love Elon Musk too!

But if we take our consumerist, ego-driven, destructive ways to Mars, we’re only going to proliferate our current problems on another planet. 

The question is, what is this revolution that we need? 

Why are we living in such an ego-based society, where the most audacious and controversial wins the power instead of the wisest, kindest and most effective leader? 

I mean, looking at who’s sitting the oval office, if we’re willing to do any introspection, we have to admit that he is the symptom, not the cause, of our collective confusion. 

Clearly a shift in paradigm is needed. But what exactly is this inner revolution that we need? 

In the nineteenth-century, there was a prediction made by a revered master by the name of Lahiri Mahasaya, and he had said: 

“About fifty years after my passing, The message of yoga will encircle the globe. It will aid in establishing the brotherhood of man: a unity based on humanity’s direct perception of the One Father.”

yoga in leadership


Well, Yoga has encircled the world, hasn’t it? 

It seems that everyone has a pair of Lululemon yoga pants and a yoga mat!! 

But this human Unity he speaks of – remains ever so elusive. 

But why are we still so divided, so conflicted, and so self-destructive?

One reason is that we have allowed Yoga to be confined to the neatly packaged box of “fitness”.

We are going through the external motions of physical yoga, but we have not yet been initiated to the deeper inner dimensions of Yoga –  what I call Yoga with a capital “Y.” 

What is the difference between the external yoga as we know it and Yoga with a capital Y? 

This is such a rich topic that I’ve written an entire book on the subject: The Yoga of Personal Development: Enlightened Lessons on Leadership, Peak Performance, and Living A Life With No Regrets 

This larger Yoga is a shift away from the incessant doing that we have all become addicted to, and instead tapping into the one and only thing that makes the human body superior to all other creatures: the highly sophisticated nervous system that allows it to double back on itself and become self-aware. 

Just as a lightbulb can illumine everything in the room, but it cannot illuminate its source, which is electricity, in the same way, our mind can shine a light on the external world, but it cannot illuminate the power by which it functions, which is Consciousness. 

Yoga with a capital “Y” begins with the recognition that true power comes from the ability to tap into this Sacred Electricity that powers everything.

Yoga is actually an intense re-training of our nervous system to remain connected to this Source Power at all times.

This does include formal sitting meditation, but equally important is the ability to stay in touch with this power while you work, walk down the street, play with your kids, and all the transitional moments of your day.

Imagine how much vitality you will gain through uninterrupted, conscious connection to Source Power!

Imagine a world where world leaders are committed to developing themselves spiritually and made their decisions by aligning with with this Power – how much healing would be possible, how many conflicts and destruction can be avoided!

Yoga is a very practical science, and we are not just going to stop with imagining such a world. We cannot control what others think, say or do.

It encourages us to clearly distinguish between 1) the things you can control, and 2) the things you cannot. It compassionately encourages us to release our attachment to the things we cannot control, and double-down on mastering the things we can do something about: our thoughts, our inner state and our actions.”

Yoga is often symbolized as a flame, because fire has the ability to takes the dense stuff, and transmute it into its subtle essence. For example, it transmutes guilt into the sincere desire to do right. It transmutes pain into deeper understanding of human nature. It takes regret and transmutes it into motivation to go for your highest expression.

If you want to become an enlightened leader, light the Fire of Yoga within yourself first. It is the flame of passion, discernment, intelligence and compassion, all in one. It gives you what is appropriate in each situation.

Make it a daily practice to cast into this flame all the tendencies that hold you back – your past hurts, your rage, your frustrations, your fear of what others think…your survivalist tendency to cling to the old ways even when they cause us pain.

Let it consume all the dark tendencies that create suffering in your life. It literally burns the seeds of negative future karma to a crisp, so they never sprout again.

The Yoga of Leadership is a vast and rich topic. I’ll be unfolding this theme in future posts.

In the meanwhile, check out my Kindle book The Yoga of Personal Development as it is chock full of ways you can implement the inner principles of Yoga to achieve Peak Performance in your work, business and life.

I’d love to co-create this series with you, so do post your thoughts, your questions, comments and requests here.

We’re all in this crucible together, and when we share our journeys, rather than keeping it to ourselves, transformation happens.

Yes, transformation happens in the company of other people on the Path, not in isolation!

So do share your viewpoint below.

I honor the Enlightened Leader within you.


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