Spotlight on YogaX:
Bringing yoga into healthcare, one teacher at a time

In early May 2023, the YogaX team met in the morning to transform a large conference room on Arastradero Road into a peaceful yoga studio. Twenty-two mats with a variety of other yoga props - blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps, and towels - made for an inviting environment. Soon after, 20 trainees arrived to embark on a weekend of yoga anatomy.

Over two days, trainees learned how to work with patients to empower them to take agency over how they move, breathe, respond, and relate to themselves and others.  They learned to encourage yoga clients to position their bodies and adjust their breathing based on interoception and neuroception — their internal understanding of their body’s position — rather than based on the idea of the shape of a particular yoga pose. They came to understand that each student is encouraged to move and breathe with discernment and sensitivity to their own physical, affective, emotional, and relational needs to access the healing and transformative inner practice of yoga.

The 30 hours of anatomy training is only a portion of the 200-hour yoga teacher training offered at YogaX. Trainees are also exposed to yoga psychology; analysis of optimal functioning breathing; interior practices; and ethical and lifestyle practices of yoga. Through this integrated and holistic practice of yoga, graduates are prepared to bring yoga into healthcare settings where they need to work adaptively and make the practice tailored and accessible to individuals.

“Yoga, grounded in its ancient roots and informed by modern science, draws us inside to make us better people on the outside by teaching us how to cultivate and utilize the wealth of resources inherent in all of us.” – Christiane Brems, PhD, ABPP, ERTY500, C-IAYT

In 2019, YogaX, led by Christiane Brems, PhD, ABPP, ERTY500, C-IAYT, was launched as a special initiative of the Chair to bring yoga into healthcare by providing a clear set of integrated and holistic tools for care providers to help patients navigate their journey into health and resilience. Research literature shows the many benefits of yoga for a range of physical, psychological, emotional, and relational challenges. Using evidence-based methods, the YogaX team emphasizes yoga as an integrated, holistic treatment and prevention strategy by offering teacher training programs, continuing education, yoga services, research, and being involved in public policy work.

Therapeutic yoga classes and consultations for the therapeutic application of yoga services have been made available by YogaX through important campus collaborations at Stanford University, including with the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, Counseling and Psychological Services, Weiland Health Initiative, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Education Team, Confidential Support Team, the department’s Lifestyle Clinic, and other programs across the institution.

YogaX’s immediate goal is to deliver yoga teacher trainings and continued education trainings — that have nationally recognized credentials — to healthcare providers so they can integrate yoga into their extant clinical practice. The programming is offered with deliberate intention to convey the benefits of yoga as a healthcare and public health intervention and prevention strategy. At the national level, YogaX is supporting advancements in credentialing standards and expanding the scope of yoga practice within healthcare settings.

“A skillful teacher can co-create the necessary physical and emotional environment of safety, the shared and meaningful experience of community, and the profound sense of knowing and insight needed to help students take their yoga off their mat and into their lives, relationships, and communities.” – Christiane Brems, PhD, ABPP, ERTY500, C-IAYT

During a recent class debriefing, participants commented that they understood for the first time how profoundly empowering yoga can be in their journey through challenge. The practice offered skills they could apply off the mat to calm their nervous system and to recalibrate their breath. Practicing their yoga skills in the moment allowed them to find greater presence in clinical situations, invited them to be more compassionate with their own needs for rest and recovery, and helped them navigate difficult conversations in the workplace and at home.  Clinical work — especially with teenage children and difficult patients — was made easier by tapping into the emotional, cognitive, and breathing skills offered by the practice, said the trainees.

Interested in learning more?

YogaX offers 200-hour and 300-hour yoga teacher training programs. The 300-hour program is modular, and the modules within that program can be taken independently of the teacher training and may be of interest to a range of healthcare professionals.

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YogaX Teacher Training Programs

Both YTT training programs are registered with Yoga Alliance and based in integrated holistic yoga that honors all aspects of self, biopsychosociocultural contexts, and the application of all limbs (or practices) of yoga, including movement, breathing, ethics and lifestyle choices, and inner practices such as mindfulness, concentration, and meditation.

200-Hour Beginning YTT Program >

  • Integrates yoga philosophy, psychology, modern psychological research, evidence-based practices, neuroscience, and social science

300-Hour Advanced YTT Program >

  • Based in a deeply scientific, culturally, and historically appreciative curriculum that covers the breadth and depth of yoga history, psychology, anatomy, physiology, ethics, professional practice, up-to-date teaching methodologies, and pedagogies
  • Supports the seamless and contextually-appropriate integration of yoga strategies into healthcare settings