HellaWella Reads: Wall Street Yoga by GuruNanda


Puneet Nanda

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Crisp suits, stacks of money, stocks and bonds — these are the usual clichés that are conjured by mentions of Wall Street. Yoga is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind, so when I had the opportunity to review Wall Street Yoga by GuruNanda (real name: Puneet Nanda), I was curious, to say the least. How does one incorporate Wall Street lingo into yoga philosophy?

Nanda used to be a big businessman, working insane hours, but ultimately, he was unfulfilled and becoming sick from a life of stress and a poor diet. He began taking yoga and, after exploring different styles, eventually became a certified yoga instructor who now wishes to bring what he has learned to the masses in an accessible way. His premise is that “Wall Street” types, or Type-A personalities, are more prone to stress and illness but that his plan will help you go “from distress to de-stress in 14 minutes a day.” Nanda promises that this book isn’t just for suits, calling on a variety of people, including stressed-out freelancers, stay-at-home parents and college students, to get in on his program. His prescription for bliss is simple: two minutes of meditation twice a day and ten minutes of yoga once a day.

The premise is gimmicky, sure, but it’s clear that Nanda is comfortable in both the yoga world and the business world. Over the years, I have learned much of the information that Nanda imparts in Wall Street Yoga such as yoga’s myriad health benefits, but his engaging writing style makes the material feel fresh. The book capitalizes on its Wall Street theme with portions reading like a guide one would receive at a corporate retreat, using acronyms and flow charts to explain the tenets of yoga. For instance, if you need help recalling the basic components of prana, or life force, just think B.O.N.D. — Breath, Optimism, Nutrition and Deeds.

He shares his techniques for meditating, which he refers to as “Long Term Investing,” and a series of ten-minute yoga routines that address a variety of issues from heart health to sciatica. Nanda asserts, “Doing the poses correctly, with proper alignment, is THE NUMBER ONE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR,” (emphasis his) and reminds readers to consult with their doctor before getting started. Each routine comes with step-by-step instructions and illustrations for every asana used. However, even seemingly simple poses contain certain nuances that may be difficult to ascertain from this information alone. Nanda directs readers to his website, where he has posted demonstrations of several yoga poses and urges beginners to “consult a yoga professional before practicing to avoid injury.” This is helpful, but I did notice that Downward Dog is not demonstrated in its own video, while King Pigeon is demonstrated on the GuruNanda YouTube channel differently from the way the pose is described in the book as well as completely differently on the website. These are small details, but within the context of establishing a safe, consistent yoga practice, they matter. Nanda’s site asks us to “Check back in May for 300 poses!” so hopefully, despite the obvious delay, more videos will emerge.

In “Reversing the Misery Index,” we learn about what is perhaps the strangest way to relieve stress and anxiety: laughter yoga, which Nanda demonstrates on YouTube. (Try laughing by yourself in your living room and see if you don’t catch a case of the giggles!) “Morning Bell” is a fun and energizing routine that will get you ready to start the day and introduces readers to Sun Salutation, while “Closing Bell” helps you manage insomnia with bedtime do’s and don’ts along with a gentle evening routine. The “Happy Weight” routine, which is combined with tips for mindful, healthy eating in the “Balance Your Portfolio” chapter, is comprised of breathing exercises as well as moves such as Cobra and Boat Pose. “Avoiding the Crash” addresses issues including diabetes and heart health. Mind you, none of these chapters explore health topics in depth, but the book isn’t meant to be an exhaustive source of information.

In “Steer Your Investment,” Nanda tackles road rage with series of breathing exercises for you to do when an aggressive driver cuts you off and you’re running late to a meeting and you were just stuck in a traffic jam on I-95 and AAAGGGGHHH! Nanda advises the reader to “keep your eyes wide open and your attention on the road, but still be aware of your breath.” He also offers “yogic driving tips,” which actually are more of a lesson in safety and common sense. (Seriously, stop texting at the wheel!)

Overall, Wall Street Yoga is a quick and easy read and could be a helpful resource for those who have some knowledge of yoga poses and want to establish a consistent practice in their busy lives. True beginners may need more guidance. The important thing is to remember, as Nanda says, “You are your biggest investment.”