AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine


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Building Resilience: Yoga for the Nervous System

Location: 4701 West Gate Blvd. Classroom E2

From: July 27, 2013 at 1:00pm to: 5:00pm




Flexible neurons mean flexible behavior.

Taught by a former neuroscience professor, this class will illuminate basic principles of tuning the brain, mind, and behavior using concepts from therapeutic yogic postures, breathwork and cortical neural networks.

We will explore how the neural activity and behavior are intricately linked and are capable of constant refinement. We will talk about how individual neurons are wired together for specialization and enhancing contrast. We will place our emphasis on computational neural processing, such as how the brain actively enhances contrast across synapses and tunes attentional networks, then we will apply this new knowledge to deepening our own mind-body practice.

Yoga is wonderful for training the mind and body to break out of the fight-or-flight hyper-reactivity that is common in our chronically amped-up society. Practicing yoga lowers stress and cortisol levels. However, reducing sympathetic nervous system activity is just part of the story in how yoga calms, restores and heals. The other half relates to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-digest branch of the autonomic nervous system that heals cells and tissues and harmonizes organs. Calming the monkey mind does not have to be cerebral. We can quiet the mind through the vagus nerves, which play a critical role in pacing the heart and serve as the major bi-directional information highway between the brain and the parasympathetic nervous system.

New research shows that yoga strengthens parasympathetic tone – this is the foundation for yoga to improve a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. We will highlight the importance of the vagus nerves in understanding the dynamic balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity and learn about specific postures and practices that can be used to enhance parasympathetic tone.


You will not need to bring a yoga mat. We will do a few demonstrations of specific postures and breath techniques, but will not have a group yoga practice during this session.

If you are a registered yoga teacher, you may apply these hours to your CE requirements.

Stephanie Shorter, PhD, views yoga as more than asana and is passionate about this more completely defined yoga as a foundation for wellness, personal transformation and profound social change. Originally trained in behavioral neuroscience and cortical electrophysiology, Stephanie has published studies about perception, attention and motor control in top neuroscience journals and, more recently, has co-authored studies on how yoga reduces performance anxiety with Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. Stephanie is active with several yoga outreach organizations, including serving as the Board Vice President for Community Yoga Austin. She also serves as the Assistant Editor ofKosmos Journal, a UN-affiliated publication about social transformation and interdependence. With co-founder Renu Namjoshi, she is currently writing an extensive Jnana Yoga curriculum called Nyaya Yoga: Think Like a 21st Century