Yoga Mantra: Take a Comfortable Seat (In Your Career)

Welcome to a new decade and my first article in a monthly series, Off the Mat: Yoga Mantras for the Modern Career.

Through this new series, I am creating a space in which I can support clients and readers who are interested in and receptive to furthering their yogic wisdom by providing a means to translate yoga principles to their careers.

This month’s mantra is fitting for the New Year and often incorporated into yoga classes during the first few days of the year (and other times): set an intention.

Yoga Mantras for the Modern Career

If you have ever been to a yoga class, you know that you are often invited to “take a comfortable seat.” You can sit on the floor or on a yoga block, bolster or zafu meditation cushion, and you are encouraged to choose the position that is most comfortable for you.

Relatively comfortable, that is. Not “cozy all tucked in your bed” comfortable, but the seat that feels most relaxed but allows you to stay alert at the same time.

Many of us, at least in the West, are not as accustomed to sitting without a chair or couch that has a back to rest on. We have do not have our core muscles sufficiently developed to keep our spine straight and pelvis stabilized. As we learn how to engage those muscles, we might be encouraged to imagine the pelvis like a bowl that can be tilted forward or back. Your goal is to find the right angle for proper alignment – keep the pelvic bowl level so you don’t (by analogy) spill the soup!

Yoga teachers, for example, may remind us to extend our spine from our sacrum to the base of our skull and relax our neck so our heads feel like they are simply floating. The image helps you internalize the ease and space you can create for yourself. A key takeaway is that we create much less stress in our bodies if we are in optimum alignment and can relax whatever muscles are not needed to maintain the pose.

That’s what you’ll learn in a yoga class – if you have the right teacher – and you can also learn similar concepts from a physical therapist, chiropractor or other health professional. The point of the comfortable seat in yoga, of course, is to help you free yourself (mind, body and spirit) for the work that you’ll do while seated in the class and be able to take that with you as you move off the mat. 


As I mentioned in my first article in this series, Yoga Mantras for the Modern Career is focused on translating yoga wisdom to our professional lives.

We can take the suggestion to “take a comfortable seat” literally, creating an ergonomic workplace and striving for good posture that allows us to relax and our energy to flow freely up and down our spines. That would be a great extension of the yogic wisdom of the phrase.

Yet the concept of the comfortable seat can also be imagined as moving beyond the literal and into the higher plane of how you align yourself professionally. The idea of relaxing while maintaining alertness – holding both of these goals in your mind simultaneously – is the aspect of the comfortable seat that gives us the richest metaphor applicable to our careers.

If you are getting hung up on the words pelvic bowl and spinal alignment, just imagine a cat. They are the masters of relaxed alertness, as they are able to sink comfortably and entirely into a space – as if they have not an ounce of tension in their bodies – yet be on the ready should their environment change on a moment’s notice. 


Rather than arriving at a comfortable posture, many of us tilt (our career, if not our pelvis) too far forward or too far back. On the one end, we push too far into the future or in one direction or another, hurried and dissatisfied with ourselves, our choices, responses from others or the progress we have made in our careers. On the other end, we may fail to be sufficiently forward-looking, resting on our laurels or even feeling overwhelmed defeated and therefore falling back in our (again metaphorical) seats. In either case, we are not using our core strength to keep us balanced, centered and at ease.

When we are not setting ourselves up for ease, we need to devote more of our energies to maintaining our current position and have less energy available to access the opportunities that would present themselves if we were in an optimum state. When we are not alert, we can become complacent and miss those opportunities. The wisdom is to find the balance that brings both of these states together. 

How can you achieve the optimum state of relaxed alertness in your career?
What would be different if you did?

Anne Marie Segal 
is an executive coach, resume writer and author of two well-received books on interviewing and career development. She served as a corporate attorney for 15 years, including roles at White & Case LLP and a prominent hedge and private equity fund manager, before launching her coaching practice. In addition to her career coach and resume writer certifications, she is a certified yoga teacher. 

Based in Connecticut not far from New York City, Anne Marie partners with clients internationally on executive presence, impactful communications, graceful transitions and other aspects of professional and personal development. 

This article is not medical advice. It is career advice!

Second image above copyright 2020 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

Inspiration and Time Management: Can the Two Ever Be Reconciled?

Coaxing inspiration to fit into the ins and outs of modern life may be one of the hardest things that we need to do as human beings. It is akin to shaping glass – you need just the right amount of heat, skill and supple touch – and you need to risk that your project will be a bust. Yet the more you practice, the better your results will be.

Time and idea


How can you successfully manage your time when the next great idea could strike at any moment?

How do you make time for inspiration in any already busy day?

As a coach, I provide answers. As an individual, I have my own questions. One question that I have been struggling with this past year is how to foster inspiration while maintaining a sense of balance. I must admit that these two goals often work at cross-purposes in my life, as they do for many others who are blessed with the creativity bug.

Often the more I am inspired I am, the harder it is to be at peace. Channeling inspiration is a nagging, messy, guarded and complicated process. It makes me want to wake up at the wee hours of the morning and start going, and it propels me to extend my day much beyond the time my body is telling me that I need rest. It urges me to skip lunch and feed it instead.

Inspiration says, “don’t stop and eat lunch, feed me instead!”

I can set a perfect plan – at 10 am I will be doing X, by 11:30 am I will move to Y. But inspiration is jealous. It does not know how to share. It threatens to abandon me if I leave it on its own for too long, so when I return at 12:30 pm, it may be grumpy like a child.

Of course, I need inspiration as much as I need water, and I am sure you do too. The more inspired I am, the more I find passion and meaning in my life and the more energy I have for the other tasks in my day. On the days that I am most inspired, my output can be 20x the days that I am not.

To that end, I have become a huge fan of energy management rather than time management. If you focus on energy management, you channel your activities with the end game of increasing your overall energy for the day, so you can be at your best in each task. This matches many of us more than straight time management, in which we try to fit inspiration into a set of pre-programmed times.

Yet our days don’t always work that way either. Inspiration on one topic may strike at 1 pm, and a critical meeting on another may start at 1:15. So the question may become how to push and pull inspiration, weaving it into our free hours (however many or few those may be) without dampening those very creative ideas and the flow that can accompany their execution. 

This is hard. In fact, it may be one of the hardest things that we need to do as human beings. Coaxing inspiration to fit into the ins and outs of modern life is akin to shaping glass – you need just the right amount of heat, skill and supple touch – and you need to risk that your project will be a bust. Yet the more you practice, the better your results will be.

I have found something that has worked for me, so I wanted to share it. It’s a cliche, but made new again in this analogous context. Here it is:”If you love something, set it free.”

I love inspiration, so I have set it free. Right now, for example, I am writing this post at 9:50 am. I will stop at 10 am to prepare for my next meeting. If it means that I lose my train of thought, there is always another train. I cannot control inspiration, but it doesn’t control me either. We live in harmony with each other.

Inspiration will not leave you if it knows you are coming back.

If you live in the world of inspiration long enough, it starts to feel like home. It’s like an old friend with whom you can pick up a conversation started 15 minutes or 15 years earlier. Or a child who knows that although you have left the room, you will always return. If you trust inspiration, it will trust you back.

9:58 am. Inspiration, it’s almost time to go. It’s farewell and not goodbye. See you soon!

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, is available on

Image above from Adobe Images.


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