A linguist does not live on language alone

Lessons from yoga for happy freelancers

Lessons from yoga for happy freelancers
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Yoga is an attempt to align mind and body with our breath and bring our attention to the present to feel what’s happening now. By letting go of the past or the future, we find peace of mind. I’ve been doing hot yoga for a few years and, apart from how great it feels, I’ve been slowly finding connections between the practice and my life as a translator. Needless to say, most of these epiphanies have come to me while on the mat. I’d like to share four lessons from yoga for happy freelancers.

Everyone is different – don’t compare yourself to others

As a freelancer working from home, there’s no team or company behind you, you’re mostly on our own, and it’s easy to start comparing yourself to all the other translators out there. Bearing in mind we tend to be too hard on ourselves, you’ll always find someone you think is more skilled and popular than you. However, like on the mat, it’s important to find your strengths and play to them, find your own pace and your happy place. It’s not realistic to close your eyes to the market around you and ignore what others are doing – you can always learn from them – but it’s always best to do what feels best for you and remember you’re unique in our own way.

Don’t go to a point where it hurts, but surely you can push yourself a bit further

No one knows better than you how far you can go, whether balancing on your arms or typing away at the computer. In yoga, when your muscles tell you they don’t want to go any further (not because it hurts, but because it feels cosy right there), your mind takes control and goes one more inch. At work, that happens when you receive a request for a project that seems unachievable (tight deadline, you don’t think you can do it right…) Your mind says you can’t do it, but something else inside of you kicks in and you end up accepting it and doing a great job. Congratulations! You’ve gone beyond your comfort zone, and that’s when progress and growth happen.

A cat stretching_Lessons from yoga for happy freelancers

Listen to your breath

Breathing is the thread that holds everything together, but we take if for granted. In yoga practice, breathing is what feeds your muscles so they can push and stretch, and also what brings you back to stillness for recovery. At the desk, when you focus too hard on what you’re working on, you don’t pay attention to how you’re breathing, but I’m pretty sure if you did, you’d notice better when you’re anxious, overwhelmed or stressed. Closing your eyes and inhaling and exhaling consciously a few times can put you back in a good place. And like in yoga, if you can’t breathe comfortably, you’ve gone too far. Loosen up the pose or say no to the next job that lands in your inbox. Remember that sometimes less is more!

Work with what you have today

This is probably my favourite lesson from the studio, and that’s why I’ve left it for last – like dessert! Your body and mind are different depending on the time of day, what you’ve eaten, how you’ve slept, etc. Hard as it is to accept it, you don’t have full control over yourself. It’s very easy to see this on the mat: it never stops amazing me how far I can stretch one day only to go back two days later and feel pretty tight in the exact same pose. At the computer, there are days when creativity just spurts out and translating or transcreating feels like the most natural thing to do, and there are days when, deadline permitting, you’ll have to give in and wait because nothing comes out. We’re all dynamic, and the sooner we accept it, the less frustrated we’ll be.

And these are my lessons from yoga for happy freelancers! Remember that in order to take in everything you do, your successes and your failures, your body and mind need time to process away from both the mat and the desk. In yoga, the dead body pose or savasana at the end of the class is the onset of that process, which continues outside the studio. At work, it starts when you shut down your computer and enjoy your time off. If you want to keep on going with your practice and your work, the secret is balance. Go as far as you can, even a bit further, but don’t go so far that you burn all you have. In yoga, like in freelancing, every time you push, remember to pull a little.

Yoga is one of my specialisations as a translator. Check out this sample from my portfolio: a cute set of cards with rhymes for children. Do you want me to help you spread the peace of mind to the Spanish-speaking world? Get in touch!


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