The 8 limbs of yoga are the lighthouse of a yogi’s life. They aim to guide the yogis to self-realization through connection with the Divine.
- Yama = Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-greediness), Brachmacharya (sexual urge control), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
- Niyama = Saucha (purity), sattva (gratitude), tapas (discipline), Swadhyaya (connect with oneself and with the divine), and Ishwara-pranidha (surrender to the Lord)
- Asana = Comfortable pose
- Pranayama = Mindful breathing
- Pratyahara = Withdrawal of senses
- Dharana = Focus
- Dhyana = Meditation
- Samadhi = Nirvana
Self-realization is difficult to reach and requires very dedicated practice, often difficult with the rapid modern daily rhythms. However, by practicing the limbs of yoga one can become a better person, grow his inner light and spread it to the people around him
Curious by nature, I grew up to become a scientist; I like asking questions that are difficult to answer and digging into their possible answers. I have always been encountering academics in my post-graduate path. When I was a kid, I admired them. I thought that they are wise people, mentors to their students, leading by example. I was expecting that academics would be pioneers in spread their light of knowledge to their students.
It was shocking enough for me to realize that a big number of them are not leaders but bad managers. From the comfort of their chair, they only want MORE and BETTER from their students, offering no or very little help and guidance. Specifically, PhD students are cheap working hands and they are also dependent on their Professor to obtain the much-wanted PhD. These are tortured the most with unrealistic deadlines, lies, shouting, lack of interest and inhumane working hours. The result? An ill-driven study, un-reproducible results, disgust for science and probably a psychological trauma to the student. These academics usually collaborate with other teams only to get as much as they can for them. They rarely offer help and are very possessive with their research. Given the chance they even steal other researchers or their students’ intellectual property. Can’t academia be better than that?
Getting to learn about the 8 limbs of yoga in my 200hr teacher training, I thought: If only these academics embraced at least a few of these pillars! For example, if they practiced more ahimsa, they would be less outrageous and mentally violent to their students. Practicing satya and asteya, they would focus on good quality research and not on competitive politics and on using all possible means to their one and only aim: a high-impact journal publication. A serious publication would be the result of a true and dedicated work, of collaboration and not competition within and between academic teams. I mentioned that they often change their mind and plan, driving the people working for them crazy! This is because of many external distractions; social media, news, emails, letting them know about a fancy new method. They then think: “Why them and not me? How can I be first? Let’s try this…and that…and the next…”, only to come to change it again after a few days. Practicing pratyahara and dharana would help to avoid this confusion.
In conclusion, I think that the academic field can deeply benefit from practicing the 8 limbs of yoga. Many academics are usually quite repelling to anything that has to do with spirit and the divine; they only believe in numbers and logic…ironically ending up acting so irrationally! Organizing yoga seminars once per week in the academic institution or university, would transfer this knowledge to scientists and would possibly change some of their behaviors to the better.
EC (200hr Yoga Teacher Training, April-May 2017)