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FAQ - Anatomical Yoga Project

This unique yoga project combined with a cadaver lab experience will be held in September 2019.

Do I need to be a certified yoga instructor to attend?

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We encourage all levels of yogis to attend. A knowledge of anatomy will be infinitely beneficial to your own personal practice and, as an instructor, to the practices of others.

Do I have to have a lot of knowledge about anatomy to attend?

We encourage yogis with all levels of anatomy to attend. We would encourage you to brush up on your knowledge before you come but be aware that many people find that learning anatomy from books and observing a real cadaver are two very different things. Consider this a journey, you will be discovering what you don’t know yet, what you need to know and just as important, what you do not need to know.

Do I have to do any dissection?

NO, the cadaver we will be using in our learning experience will be “prosected”, already cut, so that we can easily see muscles, joints, organs and systems. You will wear a lab coat and protective gloves. You will be encouraged to touch the form and investigate it, but we would ask that that you do what you are comfortable doing and nothing else. At all times you will be guided and helped, and we hope that you will feel comfortable participating with the process. At the end of the day, your experience is what counts.

Can I take photographs?

No photographs, videos or recordings on any camera or mobile device are allowed. Our intent is to maintain the integrity of the lab and the donor program. This is a very serious and strict rule for us and if it is breached, you will be removed from the lab and the class.

I’m squeamish and don’t like the sight of blood. Does that matter?

The cadavers are all preserved, using a process that fixes the body at the time of death. As a result, there is no blood that comes out when we dissect and depending on the type of technique used, hardly any blood is left in the body at all. We will have regular breaks during the session, but also will keep an eye on you. Sit down if you need to take yourself out of the lab and get some water. There will always be someone around to take care of you.

How is learning anatomy through the dissection experience different than learning it from text books?

Anatomy depicted in books is a very sanitized and cleaned up version and not really how the body is at all. The difficulty with these illustrations is that the don’t show how the body moves, stabilizes or changes. A medical view of anatomy is book learned, two-dimensional exercise in naming parts, not a way of understanding the relationship between systems and functions and certainly not a way of examining movement, lack of movement or compensation. Learning anatomy in a static form is only half of the story. When you have the experience of holding a piece of tissue in your hand, anatomy will suddenly make sense. It truly is a game changer.

How will this dissection experience relate to my work with my Students?

Yoga is a practice we accomplish with our bodies. One of the only constants in our lives, in our bodies, is change. Your body will change – illness, surgery, injury - and so will the bodies of your students. As a Yoga instructor, you are an emissary for yoga and its ability to heal these vessels we live in.

You will find that your students will ask you for advice after surgeries, dislocated shoulders, knee injuries, pregnancies, or even simple broken toes.

A knowledge of anatomy is the foundation for a safe, sustainable healing practice for both yourself and your students. It is your obligation to ensure the safety of your class, and an understanding of the body, its systems and how they work together will make you an informed source on aspects of the human body as they relate to yoga.

I’ve never seen a dead body before. I am not sure of how I will react.

The cadavers we will be working with were all donated by the person. These people recognized that after they passed away, their body would no longer be of any use to them, and so they donated it. They did this so that professionals would be able to learn from their form and so that other people would be helped by the learning experience. The generosity of this gift cannot be underestimated and always in the forefront of the thinking of the instructor and the students is how incredibly appreciative and fortunate we are to be able to do this work.

Ultimately, the form is no longer a person, but rather the material that the person has left behind. Just as the person left behind belongings after they died, this form is left behind. The lab is not a funeral home or a place of mourning, but it is a place where the last wishes of the donor and their family can be accomplished.

It is understood that the process is a challenging one and one that will put you into a position to look at your own body and your own sense of self. The instructor will carefully and sensitively guide you into the experience and at any time you are able to move away from the table and take some time out for yourself.

I am afraid that I might pass out.

No one has passed out yet! The main reason one gets light-headed in the lab is because you will be standing on your feet for an extended period of time. The lab can be quite cool and for a period of time, you will be standing still and concentrating. You will be encouraged to move around, not hyper-extend your knees and keep hydrated. Water will always be available outside of the lab and you can take a break at any time.

You are encouraged to stay well fed and hydrated.

Does it smell?

This is always the number one concern! The simple answer is no, with a few caveats.

The smell that people fear is one of decay and that is not anything that will happen in these classes. The cadavers are fixed very soon after the time of death. This means that a fixing solution is pushed around the circulatory system, destroying all the bacteria that cause decay. It makes the cadaver effectively sterile and no breakdown of tissue can occur, so there is no unpleasant smell.

There is a slightly chemical odor, but it is completely harmless. If you remember your biology lab in school, the dissecting room smells much like that.

What do I need to bring with me?

Bring your curiosity and sense of discovery with you! You will also be responsible for any Personal Protective Equipment that you would like to use; masks, eye protection, Essential oils etc.

(If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you switch to glasses during the lab portion of the day.)

If I attend, can I earn Continuing Education Hours?

Yes, Pacific Restorative Therapy is an Approved CE Provider through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. By attending the Anatomical Yoga Project – Anatomy and Yoga you will earn 15 Continuing Education Hours.