How teaching yoga has made me a better actuary

The ancient tradition of yoga and modern actuarial science blend very well together. Yoga, an ancient practice including meditation, means to join or yoke together. Yoga brings with it many benefits to practitioners, including multiple benefits to our physical and mental health – that’s what is making it so popular today.

It’s a discipline which I have embraced and a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher training course under my belt. Asa qualified yoga instructor, two to three times a week at lunchtime you can find me leading a yoga class of up to 30 people just around the corner from our office.

I relate to yoga on many levels – cultural, spiritual but also interestingly from a career perspective. You may be wondering why on earth a fully qualified actuary and principal consultant is interested in teaching yoga so much, but I see great synchronicity between the two – and am reaping the benefits.

For me teaching yoga has built a new set of skills that have become invariably handy in two main areas of my life – being a parent and being a successful consultant. It literally doesn’t matter what is going on in my head – and there is invariably a lot – when I walk into a yoga class or a client meeting my goal is to present myself as a calm and collected individual. I always thought this stood me in good stead in front of a class full of yoga enthusiasts but increasingly I have realised the power this brings to my work life too.

Think about it – giving instructions to a very varied group of people. Different genders, different cultural backgrounds where English may not be their first language, people with injuries, expectant mothers, younger enthusiastic bendy people and older people in their 60s and 70s, people practicing yoga for years and brand newbies to yoga are under my care in a group class. I need to factor in each person’s special requirements in an environment where everyone has different capabilities and different ways of understanding. My goal is to communicate with everyone in a way that everyone can understand. I prepare a framework to the class, a music playlist and check my own non-present issues at the door. But I don’t get the luxury of being fully prepared as each class has a different mix of people with different needs, technology issues, telling people to put their phones away, challenging individuals, latecomers and early leavers.

But one thing that has to stay the same is me – I need to be calm, speak clearly and ensure the tone and pitch of my voice keeps everyone engaged. When I walk around the room I need to consider time keeping, the pace of the music, watch everyone and adjust movements if need be (minimising risk and this is something as an actuary I am hyper aware of) and make sure the whole class ‘just flows’.

These skills have actually helped me more than I would ever realise, and it’s made me more aware of how these two traditional disciplines, yoga and actuarial science,  add greatly to each other.

As an actuary I benefit from the skills yoga has taught me and vice versa. I understand at times there is a lot going on inside anyone’s head and they may be thinking fast and speaking slow. I know I do. I need to have the finer details prepared and understood in advance. Yet, I understand that clarity in message is of paramount important. 

Yoga has introduced an element of balance into my work and personal life. I can let it go and work on that solution internally, peacefully and calmly.

If you are ever in Melbourne and have a spare lunch hour, join me for yoga.

Neekhil is Principal of McGing Advisory & Actuarial and a fully qualified yoga instructor.

Neekhil and the team at McGing Advisory & Actuarial provide a wide range of superannuation support services including investment governance and transition, and actuarial advice.