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The Top 10 Interchangeable Golden Rules of Yoga and Research

The principles of one are truly applicable to the other.

Key points

  • The Interconnected Rules of Research and Yoga Best Practices
Photo 151717454 / Books Yoga ©Mehmet Doruk Taşcı | Dreamstime
Source: Photo 151717454 / Books Yoga ©Mehmet Doruk Taşcı | Dreamstime

How can the fundamentals of yoga and research be related? As an author, professor, researcher, evaluator, as well as thesis advisor, former IRB Chair, and practitioner of yoga, I realized that two very different activities, such as yoga and research, shared the same core principles.

Inspired by regularly wearing both hats on the same day, these Top Ten Interchangeable Golden Rules are applicable to yoga and research practices. These are applicable to life's other contexts as well.

1. Focus on yourself
Also known as MYOB, Mind Your Own Business. Yoga encourages that we focus on our individual practice, accepting our bodies for its capabilities and limitations, while not competing with other people. We have to follow the same rules and not compare ourselves in a research context through ownership of our individual study and its needs. Our stats should match our research questions and not analyze someone else.

2. Create a solid foundation
Every building needs a strong foundation to ensure sturdiness and functionality or it will collapse. Several yoga postures require that specific body parts serve as a strong foundation to support the rest of it, such as balancing and inversions. Our bodies' foundational parts need to be strong to hold us in the pose. In the world of research, the solid foundation for a strong study are clear and concise research questions to guide the study. Our study's hypothesis, literature review, and methodology stem from the research questions, since the purpose of the study is to answer and analyze them.

3. Deep breathing
Consistent air flow keeps all living things alive. One of the core principles of yoga is proper deep breathing to help us mediate through our most challenging poses. This is a necessary survival skill for research and of course, life. When catastrophic and stressful research situations occur, such as missing data, we certainly have to remind ourselves to breath again.

4. Stretch
A great deal of stretching is required to successfully climb out of the box. Stretching the body is another primary activity in yoga to help build strength and flexibility to take our practice to the next level. Conducting research allows us to stretch our intellect, thus, making us smarter and exposing us to new material, which could lead to future opportunities.

5. Look at the world through a different angle
The only way to evolve is to be open new experiences. In the yoga studio, keeping our eyes open during twists, inversions, and compressions literally gives us the opportunity to view our surroundings in a totally different way. Even if it is something simple like "wow, that's what this room looks like from over here", we see things from a different perspective. For research, interpreting a piece of the world through the data lens allows us to process phenomena much more analytically and objectively as well as help build our critical thinking skills.

6. Intrapersonal Tune Up
Cars and other machines need to be maintained so that they can continue to work and be dependable. Yoga keeps our bodies tuned up and nourished to deal with life's daily wear and tear. Between breathing, mediating, and holding stretches, yoga helps us gain psychological and physical benefits. Empirical data derived from research with proper application can help us learn what we need in order to improve people, systems, programs, as well as fill the gaps.

7. Leadership
We all need to learn from someone who is wiser and more experienced. Gurus are teachers of yoga teachers and practicing yogis. They teach their students by sharing and passing down postures, philosophies, best practices, and spiritual values. Researchers have their gurus as well, in the form of mentors, chairs, and advisors, who are typically content experts. They impart their values, methods, research, and stories to their students in order to show them the way.

8. Follow Directions
This is one of the most underrated life skills that can prevent many issues. When we practice yoga, especially in a class, not following directions could lead to a minor embarrassment or major injury. In research, not following directions could cost our relationships with our stakeholders, threaten graduation, and cancel our work.

9. Listen To Yourself
If it feels wrong, don't do it! Good yogis know to be mindful and accept our bodies for its strengths and limitations on a daily basis, by listening to our bodies. In research, we have to listen to our instincts as well. For instance, listening to ourselves can tell us if something is wrong and maybe even force us to double check something that might have to be fixed.

10. Have Fun
If it is not fun, the benefits are ignored. Whether in holding a yoga posture or analyzing our freshly collected data, enjoy the process. Through yoga and research practice we improve ourselves, which should make the world a better place, right?

What are the other contexts applicable to these rules?