Yoga Initiative

Welcome to the Yoga Initiative by Medical Students for Community Wellness (MSCW), a program that:

  1. Introduces therapeutic yoga to medical students, by implementing an 8-week therapeutic yoga class to demonstrate the physical and emotional benefits of yoga practice while reinforcing healthy life-style choices;
  2. Promotes therapeutic yoga as a modality of healing in medicine, by providing information and practical experience during class;
  3. Brings the benefits of yoga to the Washington, D.C. community, by pairing students who have completed our curriculum with local registered yoga teachers to bring yoga to underserved and underprivileged populations at community-centers health clinics;
  4. Measures the effectiveness of yoga as a healthful intervention.

The Yoga Initiative is comprised entirely of George Washington University graduate students in health professions, and is affiliated with the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center. Our vision is to expand the program into a national movement. We invite you to join us, to open to the possibilities of bringing greater balance and health to your life, and to simply be. Namaste.

About the Yoga Initiative

The Yoga Initiative introduces graduate health students to the work of integrating therapeutic yoga into the medical caregiving practice. The program is grounded in the fundamentals of yoga therapy and yoga service. The Yoga Initiative makes yoga individually meaningful to graduate health students by presenting yoga from a therapeutic perspective. The program also offers participants the chance to share yoga service with underserved populations at local community clinics, and creates the foundation for offering the same therapies for patients in hospitals and outpatient rehabilitation settings. Here is how:

“Intro to Therapeutic Yoga” Elective at the GWU Medical School

Our 8-week “Intro to Therapeutic Yoga” course is a formal elective at the GWU medical school. The elective has three main objectives:

  1. Use case studies to show how yoga can be used therapeutically to supplement traditional medical care; it covers how yoga can enhance:
    1. Quality of life through self-care and stress reduction practices;
    2. The treatment of common complaints, injuries, special conditions and debilitating diseases;
    3. Cancer treatment and palliative care;
    4. Interventions for compulsivity and addictive behaviors.
  2. Teach fundamentals of self-care practices, such as:
    1. Preventative self-care skills to avoid burnout and promote long-term wellbeing;
    2. Restorative techniques in breathing, postures, mind-body awareness, and meditation;
    3. How students can personalize a sequence of postures to meet their personal needs, and/or those of their patients;
    4. Better skills in communicating with family and friends, teachers, patients, residents, students and staff;
    5. Specific skills in using yoga as a preventative and remedial therapy in diverse populations.
  3. Reinforce an understanding of functional anatomy and physiology through yoga postures.

In order to provide yoga service to underserved populations in Washington, D.C., students must successfully complete our “Intro to Therapeutic Yoga” elective.  Upon the completion of the 8-week Yoga Initiative training, there will be ongoing opportunities for participants to work with a trained yoga teacher to help provide yoga to underserved populations at local community clinics in Washington, D.C.

We are currently in the process of conducting research on the benefits of our program to graduate health students. It is in our future plans to expand the research to the greater Washington, D.C. community, and explore the medical benefits of yoga on the populations our students serve.

Our Members:

Dr. Mikhail Kogan, Program Director
Linda Lang, Therapeutic Yoga Instructor at GWU
Regan Gage, Program Co-founder
Rohini Battu, Program Co-founder
Yasmin Pourkazemi, Program Coordinator
Yonit Lax, 3rd year Medical Student Representative
Rosa Liu, 2nd year Medical Student Representative
Scott Sexton, 1st year Medical Student Representative
Elise Nash, Research Assistant
Marybeth Bernhard, junior yoga teacher