Research Agenda Setting to Popular Yoga Poses

Research Agenda Setting to Popular Yoga Poses

Experienced researchers know it takes patience, endurance, and concentration to see a research project to fruition. These hallmarks are shared by yoga practitioners worldwide, whether one practices Ashtanga, Vinyesa, or simple sun (Surya Namaskara) salutations. In what other ways might the research process be compared to or benefit from yoga?

Warming Up

Upon commencing a meaningful research study, you’ll want to put your expertise, career objectives, and passion to work. Finding the right study will depend much on the need and its contribution to the field. At this exploration stage it’s just you and your yoga mat. But like any structured yoga practice your research agenda will start with meditation to all applicable boundaries of mind and spirit.  

While searching for the right project, be sure to validate studies that support it. You know the strength of any meaningful project will be determined by the depth of a rigorous literature review (EBSCO, ProQuest, ERIC, to name a few). If there is a literature gap, that might provide justification to move forward. Consider starting with some simple stretches or Pigeon pose. After all, you’ll likely be the first to conduct such an investigation. Yogis often say the future is uncertain, but what one does today can impact tomorrow. “Today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present.” Thus, be sure you take time right now to explore rigorously.

Inner Focus

Still stuck? Explore the Center for Leadership Studies and Educational Research (CLSER) Present & Publish page.  Many of our faculty have majored in leadership and just knowing the types of conferences and publications available can be an inspiration. Perhaps you will explore women and leadership with Dr. Lynne Devnew.  How about managerial theory? Or how action research impacts the learning process? If you need more assistance step up to Chair pose via CLSER Center Chair and Interim Dean of Research & Scholarship Mark McCaslin, Ph.D.

More Stretching

Once you come back down to Earth, consider a Seated Forward Bend to develop your proposal as it can be a lengthy process. You’ll want to stretch all the resources available. Have you considered applying for funding?  If yes, terrific!  If not, follow that link to see which type might be best for you. Now you’re starting to breathe a little deeper, so important to the strength you’ll need to develop your inner core.

Fortify Inner COR

To be considered, you’ll need to prepare for the Committee of Research (COR), the University’s project approval board and the Institutional Review Board (IRB), for the final project authorization. This will require the establishment of an account with IRBNet via the School of Advanced Studies. You’ll pass through Bridge pose that will test your research prowess and yoga balance. Don’t be afraid to fall. The requirements for IRB are based on research ethics; the type each accomplished yogi possesses. Gaining IRB approval will be due in larger part to the significance of your study and in a smaller part to following the application process. Do you have a valid instrument?  Is your informed consent valid? 

Breathe & Balance

At this stage, you may opt for a relaxing Child’s pose. After completing any of the applications, one must wait for all parties, COR, and IRB, to make their decisions. If corrections are needed, no problem. You’ll get back on your feet for an Upward Dog (or Cobra) and eventually end up on the front of your mat ready for Tree or Mountain pose to rise for the next iterative occasion. 

If you receive approval, you’ll quickly move to your next pose Namaskar letter A. If you receive approval with changes, no worries, you’ll prepare for Namaskar letter B. And all throughout remember to continue breathing deep. I’m talking about a slow but controlled full yoga inhalation from the top of your lungs to the bottom with a complete exhalation.

Humbled Warrior

You’re about half way through your yoga practice but more than a year might have accrued conducting your study. And once you finally collect data you can revel in other poses like Warrior, because that is the type of stamina you’ll need. Or, how about Hero pose? The results of your study just may transform a whole industry. You may or may not use Child’s pose again (taking a break when you need it) but you’ll feel reinvigorated during the summary and recommendation phase. Here you might benefit from tools like being certain your submittal does not end up in the hands of predatory publishers.

Winding Down

When you finally start submitting your paper for publication we wouldn’t blame you if you positioned into Happy Baby. But do not celebrate just yet; you’ll want to begin to immerse yourself in Shavasana, the final resting stage. This phase can take a while as you await a review. Upon successful publication, it will be time to say Namaste, “the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.”

Namaste is symbolic of the successful transformation of meaningful knowledge many colleagues and the industry may gain from your study. Thus, embracing popular yoga poses can help one develop and complete a rigorous research agenda. At minimum it will alleviate so much stress!


Lynne Devnew's picture Lynne Devnew | July 11, 2016 3:19 pm MST

What yoga pose might you associate with the next step - I guess we're back to Inner Focus?  How perfect that you mentionned the Women and Leadership Research Group in that step!  

One of my research teams sent off today what we hope will be the last version of a book chapter on women's leadership aspirations.  I'd barely hit send and we'd almost made it though the round of  "Yippee!"  and "Wow, this is really so much better than our first submission" round of posts when the emails started flying about our next project - what should we do to build upon the model we just developed?  We seem to have skipped Shavasana. 

Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | July 11, 2016 6:40 pm MST

As my yoga instructors would say Lynne, "It's your practice."  So if you skipped Shavasana, it probably means you and your team were not ready for it!  "What should we do to build upon the model we just developed?" Great question!  Metaphorically it sounds like you might be ready for Warrior II pose, because it increases stamina :-)  But I agree Lynne, it is back to the Inner Focus stage for your team's next direction!  Thanks for checking out my blog. 

Ann Wehrman's picture Ann Wehrman | December 14, 2016 10:42 pm MST

Hi Erik, Thanks for your clever blog article linking the research process to yoga practice!  Yoga is meaningful to me, and so I wanted to add something to your blog, being inspired that you made those connections.

Practicing and teaching Hatha yoga have strongly supported my work as an online instructor, making long periods of concentration easier, giving me more patience with students, and giving me more confidence that I could roll with any and all changes in the job or challenges it brings.

Scholarly research and writing are also benefitted by yoga, and akin to the philosophical seeking that is a main element in yoga as a system of thought, healing, and spiritual growth. The willingness to search deeply, patiently, and in all directions, withholding judgement as one reviews all information open-mindedly--those critical thinking strategies are essential to both scholarly research and the inquiry of the yogic philosophers.  

Once again, I appreciate your article!  Good luck with your quests!


Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | December 16, 2016 9:52 am MST

Hi Ann:

From one yogi to another, I am grateful for your feedback!  Your comment, "The willingness to search deeply, patiently, and in all directions, withholding judgement as one reviews all information open-mindedly--those critical thinking strategies are essential to both scholarly research and the inquiry of the yogic philosophers," has much merit. 

I started yoga about five years ago and prior to that never thought I would be practicing it regularly. We are in agreement about its mindfulness benefits. Thank you very much for stopping by and I am always available to assist you with your scholarly agenda. Feel free to contact via email at

Ann Wehrman's picture Ann Wehrman | December 23, 2016 1:37 pm MST

Hi Erik,

Thanks so much for your offer of support in my scholarship adventures! 

The Research Hub, as well as your articles and posts, are helpful inspiration already.  Having so far only published creative writing and literary analysis, the notion of writing scholarship articles and publishing them, even presenting remotely or in person, feels quite challenging.  However, I will practice positive thinking and embrace this new challenge, keeping breath and an open mind in place.

Happy holidays to you!


Erik Bean's picture Erik Bean | January 3, 2017 1:24 pm MST

Hi Ann: Sorry for the delay. I hope your new year's is off to a great start. Let me just add that when thinking about scholarship, think of best practices you use in the classroom or examine a part of your discipline's theory that you believe can benefit from a new investigation or call among the field. That way you do not necessarily have to embark on a lengthy formal research study but can look for publications where such editorials are welcomed. Finally, a book review in a peer reviewed journal also is a great way to make an initial mark. When you are ready, I am here if you want to continue the dialogue. Best wishes in all your efforts as you move forward. -- Erik

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Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

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