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Vol. LX, No. 12
June 13, 2008
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NIH Marks First Annual Yoga Week

Yogiraj Alan Finger, founder of ISHTA Yoga, presents “The Sciences of Hatha Yoga, Tantra and Ayurveda.”

Yogiraj Alan Finger, founder of ISHTA Yoga, presents “The Sciences of Hatha Yoga, Tantra and Ayurveda.”

In May, NIH celebrated its first annual Yoga Week. Highlighting the science and practice of yoga, the 5-day series of events provided employees and the public with an opportunity to learn about the benefits of yoga and experience them through stretching and practice.

The event was presented in partnership with R&W, the Office of Research Services, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Participants learned how yoga can be accessible to people at all levels with all body types. NHLBI’s Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine led several yoga sessions during the week and also conducted research on barriers to yoga practice. She said many people mistakenly believe that they’re not flexible enough to try yoga, that “just stretching” wouldn’t do them any good, or that their body isn’t the right type for yoga, especially if they are male or overweight. “We hope to dispel those misperceptions this week,” she noted.

A free yoga practice on the grass outside Natcher.

Above: A free yoga practice on the grass outside Natcher.

Below, l: On stage demonstrating yoga stretches that can be done at a desk are (from l) Jocelyn Gordon, yoga instructor; Dr. Josephine Briggs, NCCAM director; Dr. Jeffrey White, director of NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Randy Schools, R&W president; and NHLBI’s Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine.

Below, r: Natcher auditorium became a yoga classroom during the seminar, “Yoga Stretches for the Desk and Office.”

Dr. Timothy McCall, medical editor of Yoga Journal magazine and author of the book Yoga as Medicine, also stressed yoga’s inclusiveness, cultivation of awareness and outreach to people in various wellness and disease states. He found in his practice as an internal medicine physician and as a yoga student that reconciliation is possible between Eastern and Western ways of knowing. Yoga and conventional medicine can complement, rather than threaten, each other.

The week also included karma yoga events—participants brought donations of non-perishable foods for Manna Food Center in Rockville and the Safra Family Lodge at NIH. Lectures and practice sessions at Rockledge I and II and 6001 Executive Blvd. allowed off-campus staff to experience yoga.

Instructors encouraged staff to move yoga practice from the mat to daily life by mentally bookmarking parts of the day and dedicating them to remembering to focus on the breath.—

On stage demonstrat-ing yoga stretches that can be done at a desk are (from l) Jocelyn Gordon, yoga instruc-tor; Dr. Josephine Briggs, NCCAM director; Dr. Jeffrey White, director of NCI’s Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Randy Schools, R&W president; and NHLBI’s Dr. Rachel Permuth-Levine. Natcher auditorium became a yoga classroom during the seminar, “Yoga Stretches for the Desk and Office.”

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