SCU’s Innovative Neuroscience Class Highlighted on Integrative Practitioner

Neuroscience students taking yoga

Yoga practice as a lab in neuroscience education

Laura Schmalzl, PhD, RYT-500 has been an associate professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCUHS) for the past year. There, she teaches neuroscience to chiropractic, acupuncture, and Oriental medicine students. A trained yoga teacher with a PhD in cognitive science, followed by a post-doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institute, and further post-doctoral work at the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at University of California San Diego, Schmalzl chose to introduce yoga practice as part of the weekly laboratory requirement assignment for her neuroscience students.

The external origins of Schmalzl’s unusual lab concept are drawn from the endemic of stress and burnout in health and medical education, a phenomenon that recently provoked further research by the National Academy of Medicine. Schmalzl’s challenge was to keep her over-scheduled students engaged for six hours of neuroscience each week, with four hours of lecture and two hours of lab work. She was also looking at students that were drawn and tired from the demands of their workload.

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