Did Steve Jobs Practice Yoga?

Steve Jobs is known for being a famous inventor, a man whose name is synonymous with Apple; there is much known about his status but not much about his personal life. What did he do to de-stress? Did he practice yoga?

Steve Jobs probably practiced yoga because he gave away a famous yoga book titled Autobiography of a Yogi as a farewell gift to all the attendees at his funeral. This suggests he was intensely spiritual and that yoga was vital to him.

Now that we know that Steve Jobs was a disciple of yoga, what kind of yoga did he practice, and what are some of the principles of this famous book that he gave away? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Yoga?

When you think of yoga, you probably think of a yoga class with people rearranging their bodies in various positions for both stress and muscle relaxation. However, yoga isn’t just a physical practice—it is a practice involving both the mind and the body rooted in Indian philosophy.

Initially, yoga was not a physical practice in India. The primary goal was to expand spiritual energy through various breathing techniques to improve mental focus and control over one’s emotions.

In yoga, the body is said to contain various chakras that are central points of energy, instrumental to how you experience multiple emotions. If the energy in a chakra becomes blocked, it triggers negative emotions, which include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Rage
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Poor Digestion

The 7 Most Important Chakras

These are the seven most important chakras:

  • Sahasrara: The ‘crown’ chakra represents consciousness. Located on the crown of the head, it guides you in matters requiring wisdom.
  • Ajna: The ‘third-eye’ chakra is related to the pituitary gland, instrumental to growth and development, be it physical or mental.
  • Visuddha: The ‘throat’ chakra is the residence of speech, hearing, and metabolic functions.
  • Anahata: The ‘heart’ chakra often involves emotional issues like well-being, compassion, rejection, and other complicated problems.
  • Manipura: The ‘navel’ chakra is closely linked to the digestive system, along with negative emotions such as fear or anxiety.
  • Svadhisthana: The ‘pelvic’ chakra is home to the reproductive organs, adrenal gland, and urinary system.
  • Muladhara: The ‘support’ chakra is found at the base of the spine and is related to our primal urges for food, sex, sleep, etc.

Yoga asanas, or what we call yoga classes now, were initially developed to remove blockages in your chakra and allow energy to flow naturally again for better living.

With all this in mind, considering that Autobiography of a Yogi is mainly about various spiritual principles and meditation, and that it was one of Jobs’ favorite books, it is evident that he was a devout practitioner of the authentic yoga—of the spiritual principles associated with this philosophical practice.

What Is Autobiography of a Yogi About?

Autobiography of a Yogi is about the life of a yogi called Paramahansa Yoganda. It details his childhood and journey of becoming a monk in India, eventually traveling to New York in the 1920s, and all the spiritual advice and knowledge he gained along the way.

Yoganda is credited to be the man who brought an Eastern practice, yoga, to the West. The book teaches important lessons about self-realization. Jobs likely wanted to give all his guests encouragement for their journey into self-actualization and become the best possible versions of themselves.

Here are some of the key points that this book talked about:

  • Attaining happiness: Yoganda suggests that happiness is not found in material wealth, dwelling on the past, or being unkind to others. By living in the moment and seeing beauty in all things, you will become a happier person.
  • Becoming purposeful: According to Yoganda, honesty is necessary to live a realistic and purposeful life. It is also not necessary to be alive to have a purpose. Yoganda talks about a superconscious state that lies beyond the subconscious, created in God’s image. This state offers freedom from the statement that existence depends on body and breath.
  • The power of thought: You can shape the reality around you depending on the way that you think. If you’re always thinking negatively, life will seem bleak, and you will be unable to succeed. Failure or fear should not be obstacles that are so large that you cannot overcome them. Instead, use the thought of God to allow you to reach power and accomplishment.
  • The importance of introspection: Looking in the mirror is necessary to understand your shortcomings and improve yourself, even if it is painful.
  • Meditation would lead you to your goals: Meditation would increase your concentration and focus, preventing you from becoming absorbed in thoughts that would distract you from success. This way, you would be able to attract at sheer will whatever you needed.

What Is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki About?

Along with Yoganda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Jobs’ was also very fond of a book called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. If you’re wondering what Zen Buddhism has to do with yoga, you’d be surprised to find that there is a great amount of overlap between the two.

Suzuki’s book talks about zazen, or the practice of zen meditation held in the lotus position. This type of meditation, like that in yoga, is meant to decrease distractive thoughts and lead you to peace.

Both yoga and Buddhism also emphasize the same spiritual concepts; the importance of decreasing self-centeredness and leaving your ego behind. However, yoga advises you to do this through the divine, while Buddhism just advises you to humble yourself so that you can truly embrace learning.

Suzuki’s book might not be about yoga, but it’s still worth a read because the two concepts have much in common, even if there are some differences.

What Is Kriya Yoga?

Yoganda’s book refers to a type of yoga known as Kriya yoga, which Steve Jobs probably practiced. This type of yoga is characterized by a path of self-realization, involving practicing the principles invoked in the book.

Unlike other yoga classes, you cannot just go for one class and come back with an understanding of what Kriya yoga entails. Engaging in Kriya yoga is a journey that requires multiple sessions, along with a willingness for learning, introspection, and above all, patience.

Apart from the mental aspect of Kriya Yoga, which includes the principles listed in Yoganda’s famous book, this type of yoga also involves specific physical exercises known as Energization exercises. These are particular postures to follow while doing a unique breathing technique known as Double Breathing.

In double breathing, you take a short breath and then a longer one, repeating this for both the inhalation and exhalation process.

For a specific list of the exercises to follow in this type of yoga, you can watch this video:

The Meditation Technique Involved in Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga also involves a meditation technique called the Hong Sau technique of concentration. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Sit upright with your eyes closed.
  2. Look at the point in the middle of your forehead, in between your eyebrows.
  3. Inhale slowly on a count of eight. Mentally say Hong (rhymes with song) as you inhale.
  4. Hold that breath for eight counts.
  5. Exhale slowly on a count of eight. Mentally say Sau (saw) as you exhale.
  6. Repeat steps 3 – 5 three to six times. As you inhale and exhale, ensure that your eyes don’t follow your breath’s shape and you are looking towards the center of your forehead at all times.

During this meditative practice, you will learn to become more attentive and focused. However, you shouldn’t force anything and attempt to keep your session feeling as natural as possible. Trying to rush the process will only create impatience and accomplish the opposite purpose of this exercise.

Final Thoughts

Jobs is not the only famous CEO to practice yoga—David Inns and Stanton Kawer practice yoga and say that it has helped them immensely. It is evident that including yoga in your routine is the key to success—an understanding that Jobs grasped after his trip to India in 1974 in his search for spiritual enlightenment.

If you haven’t started your yoga journey because it looks too intimidating or pretentious, remember that yoga is about the mind and philosophy, above all, and try to start there.

Sources

Photo of Steve Jobs

Photo of Steve Jobs: Matthew Yohe
[CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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