10 Ethical Principles of Classical Yoga as helpful guidelines for Conscious Leadership (3/3)

Image by Okan Caliskan from Pixabay

In the previous two articles (part 1 and part 2), I shared the first six ethical principles of Classical Yoga which can be helpful to more Conscious Leadership. Here are the four more to have a complete picture:

7. Santosha: Contentment

Santosha is the art of contentment. No matter how much you have (success, abundance, prosperity, love), it is very easy to fall in the trap of always wanting more. Especially if you are a high performer, once you climb a summit, you might not take the time to celebrate, and already thinking about the next mountain to climb. You might actually be addicted to success, and have a hard time living “normal” moments.

Think about the last success you experienced. What was it like?

Did you celebrate?

Did you make time to appreciate?

I had a client complete an amazing project for the European Union, which lasted for almost a year, mobilizing the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament. Once they completed the project, I asked one of the co-directors: Did you make time for celebration? One of the other co-directors was already thinking about what was coming next. What would be the next project. It’s easy to stay stuck in that treadmill, even when you are highly successful. Santosha is an antidote to being on that treadmill. Santosha is appreciation, and it can be cultivated mindfully.

You can live a richer life by cultivating appreciation and gratitude, than by running after success mindlessly. Running after success to feel better is like drinking salty water to quench your thirst: it will keep you wanting for more and you will never feel satisfied. The trick is to cultivate satisfaction beforehand (stay hydrated instead of running for water).


Contentment and gratitude can always be cultivated. Yet, there are moments for fulfilling one’s longings, aspirations and desires through growth, which can sometimes be rapid, unexpected, and necessary. Think about mushrooms that grow in a couple of hours after the rain (watch here), or a chrysalis that turns into a butterfly in 10-14 days (watch this miracle here). Transformation happens, and it is necessary for evolution and growth.

8. Tapas: Austerity

Another way to describe austerity is self-discipline (here is an article on why it matters and how to cultivate it). Self-discipline helps to build will-power. In business and leadership, it can be achieved in many ways:

-building healthy and powerful routines outside of work and at work

-managing well your priorities, time and energy (such as for instance: not reading your emails first thing in the morning and using your psychic energy for creative work, blocking out undisturbed slots of time for strategic work, keeping your phone on plane mode often, taking many breaks, removing notifications, in other words: becoming a Time Master)


To develop & keep your psyche healthy, you’ll want to create plenty of time for play (Conscious Leadership Commitment #9: Play), and re-creation in and outside of work! Work (and Life) can be FUN, FUN, FUN! You can reach goals through austerity and will-power, but also through play, creativity, enjoyment and humor.

9. Svadhyaya: Self-study

After working with leaders and managers for the last ten years, I can see those who have done the deep inner work and those who haven’t. Their levels of achievement and fulfillment are different.

This practice is not only a commitment to self-observation and an aspiration for self-awareness but also a willingness to do the Deep Inner Work it takes to become more whole, fulfilled, and effective in the world.


Self-study shouldn’t take you away from your work in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in the Learning Trap. You can already do great work and serve the world, the people and the planet as you are right now. Go do it now.

10. Isvara Pranidhana: Devotion to the Lord

This one can be tricky, especially if you are not spiritually inclined.

If you are, this principle is pretty straightforward:

In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the wisdom texts of ancient India, Lord Krishna teaches wisdom to Arjuna, who is having doubts on the battlefield, as he resists leading battle against family members who are in the opposing camp:

“The awakened sages call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results; all his selfish desires have been consumed in the fire of knowledge… remember me [the Essential Truth] at all times and fight on… Whatever you do, make in an offering to me.”

(The Bhagavad Gita, Eknath Easwaran tr. pp. 87, 125, 135)

As a Leader, you can make an internal offering to the Divine, to your God/the Universe/the Kosmos/whatever works for you so that your potential can be used as a contribution to the Cosmic Creation.

If you are not quite sure about the relationship between your work and creative potential, and the whole Universe, I would recommend you read The Universe is a Green Dragon, by Brian Swimme to get a better sense of how they relate based on our most up-to-date scientific understanding of the Universe.


Choose whatever works for you. I do believe that offering your work to something greater than yourself does make a difference.

If, however, doing this work for your own self-fulfillment is enough and does fill you with joy, contentment, and drive to continue further, keep going!

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