Updated: Apr 15, 2020
YogaX began to take form in 2012 when Kari, Dharmakaya, and Chris met in Oregon. Feeling an immediate affinity and shared love for yoga, we became the seeds for a vibrant, supportive community dedicated to the practice of yoga and mindfulness – on and off the mat. Heather, Nadia, and Lauren joined us in 2013 and joyly added their unique expertise and wisdom. Greg and Liz followed in 2014, bringing with them added enthusiasm and dedication to an ever-growing purpose. Nina and Alex joined the leadership group shortly thereafter, further fueling our commitment to practices of inclusivity and access for individuals with health and mental health concerns. Our collective commitment to bringing yoga into our academic setting was contagious and in just a few years we grew into a large and committed group of yoga practitioners, researchers, clinicians, and educators.
Our emerging yoga community grew to embrace three primary purposes: yoga research, yoga therapeutics, and yoga- and mindfulness-based resilience practices for care providers (us included). We launched a number of research projects that have informed our work on accessibility, inclusivity, and the need for individual tailoring of yoga practices. Based on our strong ties to ancient yoga wisdom and modern neuroscience, we developed, tested, and refined yoga and mindfulness interventions that we have now successfully implemented for a variety of purposes with a wide range of individuals and groups. Our work is profoundly affected by ancient yoga psychology and wisdom and deeply informed by modern neuroscience, social science research, and interpersonal neurobiology. We continuously refine our knowledge by staying attuned to the burgeoning research literature that is documenting the many benefits of yoga for a range of physical, psychological, emotional, and relational challenges. Yoga, as we define it, is so much more than posture practice. It is a holistic system of lifestyle practices, breath work, physical form and movement, concentration practices, meditation, and mindfulness. Each practice – as well as the synergistic whole that is yoga – has ample research support and our work reflects this evidence base in what we teach, how we investigate the effectiveness of our work, and what we offer clinically or therapeutically.
Through the learning that came from own training backgrounds, joint research and investigative work, and collective experiences as clinicians, teachers, and researchers, we felt a calling to bring yoga into the comprehensive healthcare clinic in Oregon where all of us worked. In addition to our research team, we formed a clinical team that has brought yoga to individuals with a variety of psychological and physical challenges. Our commitment to adaptive yoga – offering access, individual tailoring, and modification to everyone with an interest in joining mind, body, and community – became a much desired service among clinic clientele. Having been properly trained and credentialed as yoga teachers and yoga therapists, we launched many therapeutic yoga groups and began to offer individual yoga therapy. We expanded to new venues of implementation as we began to disperse geographically. We have by now shared evidence-based yoga and mindfulness interventions for health and resilience with college students, professional and advanced graduate students in the helping professions (including psychology, dental health, nutrition, and physical therapy), university faculty, medical professionals, athletes, individuals with complex trauma histories, military veterans, individuals with depression and anxiety, adolescents with adverse childhood experiences, police officers, the general population, and more.
As our experience grew and our work deepened, we developed a growing desire and excitement to share what we were learning and doing with others who might dedicate themselves to similar work. We began to disseminate our work and ideas through community lectures, professional presentations, and publications. We invited new members into our yoga teams to spread our joy and grow our collective wisdom. We became ready to be teachers of teachers and found a shared commitment to integrate science and spirit with our colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, where YogaX took shape as a special initiative of the Chair, Dr. Laura Roberts. The faculty and staff of Stanford Psychiatry's YogaX offer specialized knowledge and wisdom to support the Department's dedication to wellbeing and to the capacity for sustainable contribution to each of its five missions of advancing science, clinical innovation and service, community engagement and commitment, educational excellence, and leadership and professionalism.
As you can see in our webpage, YogaX is based first and foremost in community (or sangha for those who appreciate the original Sanskrit word). It is deeply grounded in meaningful learning from ancient and modern sources of wisdom, knowledge, and insight with a profound commitment to a broad and inclusive psychology that promotes resilience and healing. This is our guiding principle (or dharma). Our values reflect our deep commitment to lifelong learning and inclusive grounding; they bear repeating here: We honor integration and holism, seeking to understand every human being in context; growth, appreciating that all of us continually evolve, transcend, and improve; community, creating connection and inter-being in all we do; service, offering ourselves to work on behalf of a greater good; inclusivity and accessibility, knowing that yoga can benefit anyone anywhere and is to be shared wholeheartedly; and inspiration, seeking to remain inspired ourselves and kindling inspiration in others.
In the spirit of seeking to inspire, support, and implement scientifically informed yoga training and therapeutic yoga services that support the wellbeing of individuals and communities, we invite you to join YogaX. Attend a continuing education workshop or a self-care event; enroll in teacher training or come for a few classes; follow us online in our blogs or virtual training events. Your level of involvement can be large or small; long or short. No matter how you join us, we will honor our commitment to inspire, share, and celebrate the yoga journey together.
With great joy about what is ahead for all of us,
Your YogaX Team