Trusting Your Body to Lead

Add to favorites

Leslie Salmon Jones, cofounder of Afro Flow® Yoga, describes the leadership transformation she's seen in herself and other women when they become present in their bodies.

Omega: The first time you did the trapeze was at the 2018 Leadership in Mid-Air workshop at Omega. What was that experience like for you, and how did the experience fit into the full workshop?

Leslie: The weekend was an incredible experience. We dove into deep topics and yet there was lightness to the workshop. I'd never experienced trapeze. I wanted to do trapeze before teaching the workshop, so on the Friday before, I took my first lesson and I was amazed at how quickly I was doing things. The trapeze team is incredible at teaching people how to translate the movement from the ground onto the trapeze. Within an hour I saw people doing flips.

When I was walking up to the trapeze, my body was saying everything. It's the moment you're stepping out of your comfort zone. It made me notice how I talk to myself in moments of discomfort. In the past, I would have been self-critical, but I've done a lot of work to get out of the critical mind when I'm in discomfort. 

As I was walking up the ladder, I would go into my breath and say, "You're going to be okay. Step, by step, by step.” Taking myself to the next step and trusting. I've had issues in my own leadership around trust, and that was highlighted as I took the leap off the trapeze. I had to trust that I would be okay. That took me to a whole new level in my own personal leadership.

I noticed when I was going up the ladder and as I was going to take the leap, that I needed to find the reserves deep within my body, and to trust in myself. I realized that a lack of trust was what I was dealing with in my own business life. Right now, as Afro Flow Yoga is growing so fast, it's a little scary to take a leap of faith, so the fear around trapeze was parallel to what was happening in my life. It actually embodied that a leap of faith was helpful for me to move through my own challenges as a leader.

Omega: Trapeze is off the beaten path for most leadership courses. How does the experience of taking the leap off the trapeze help people take the next big step in their career? 

Leslie: It takes a certain amount of courage to be a leader, whether it's the leader of your career, your family, or your person. When you're in your body, it can help you express your internal purpose. In terms of creating an experience where I feel confident in my body, I can try opening up my shoulders, elongating my spine, standing rooted in my feet, feeling the crown of my head lift up. That shifts the whole dynamic of how I communicate with people. 

Omega: You do a lot of individual work with women. What type of transformation do you see when a woman finally experiences being embodied? 

Leslie: This is a big topic. I've been working one-on-one with women daily since 1996. I've had case study after case study. What I've found is that there's often a disconnect from the neck down, particularly around the womb or belly area, the center of creativity. I encourage women to connect with this area of their bodies through yogic core work because there's so much richness there. 

It's our center of creativity. It's where we can give life. Our qi is connected with our core. It's the center. The earth has a center. The sun has a center. Our cores is the center of our bodies. There's so much that goes along with that and yet we've been disconnected. 

When women find that place, it's like a light bulb goes off and I can literally see the transformation in front of my eyes. It's like a flower. Say a flower is closed and the sun hits it and the flower opens. It's just shining and blooming. I've seen the transformation, not just on a physical level, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It's powerful work. 

Omega: Is there an exercise that people can do to start this embodiment process at home?

Leslie: Breathing is the best. Even, deep belly breathing. Just breathing helps you bring your awareness inward and brings you to the present. Sometimes as you breathe, things arise. Whether it's pain or something else, what is coming up for you? What keeps coming up? 

Checking in is a great way to begin. When we raise awareness, then we can acknowledge that something is happening. Once we acknowledge that, we can begin to address it. Once we address it, we can begin to heal it. Once we heal it, we can reveal it. I say, "We reveal to heal."