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IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum


Project History and Description

The IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum aims to balance the needs of good research with good yoga by creating a replicable intervention for the rigorous scientific study of yoga that is true to the yogic tradition and accessible to a broad mainstream audience.

The IEL understands a single curriculum could never demonstrate the full impact of yoga, which is a multifaceted practice that includes many tools and techniques best applied with great precision based on the unique needs of the practitioner. However, a standardized curriculum, if widely used and studied, will enable the baseline of yoga’s benefits to be proven. It will also, very importantly, be a safe and accessible vehicle for yoga to enter the mainstream.

The IEL has significant resources to bring to this endeavor.

The IEL sponsors a team of Harvard Medical School scientists and research assistants who are studying the effects of yoga on a wide spectrum of human functioning-from mental and physical health to the development of extraordinary states of consciousness.

The IEL is part of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, the largest yoga retreat center in North America, which has significant development, marketing, and delivery resources to support this endeavor, including

  • More than 30 years experience creating programs for those new to yoga
  • An established professional development program with more than 5,000 teachers globally
  • Interaction with all the major schools of yoga in the country
  • Organizational presence to create institutional and system-wide possibilities.

Project Summary

The IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum is being refined through multiple iterations within and beyond Kripalu. The IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum is currently structured as an eight-week program. Each session is two hours and includes an exploration of a theme and a complete yoga practice including centering, breathwork, warm-ups, postures, and relaxation, as well as support for home practice.

The IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum presents yoga as a practice for flourishing no matter what circumstances life offers. The primary skill the curriculum teaches is self-observation without judgment (with compassion) while introducing techniques for self-inquiry and transformation.


Research Highlights

The IEL has already begun studying the effects of this program and it has shown positive results. Participants of early versions of the program report an increase in

  • Vigor
  • Physical health
  • Ability to observe experience without judgment.

And a decrease in

  • Personal distress
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of isolation.

Even after three months participants maintain significant increases in positive affect (mood) and mindfulness.


Future Goals

When fully developed, the IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum will be documented effective through rigorous science, be scalable to roll out throughout major institutions, and enable replicable scientific inquiry of yoga across many fields of knowledge.

If you are interested in becoming a teacher of the IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum, bringing the IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum to your organization, or initiating a research project based on the IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum, please contact Edi Pasalis, Director of Standardized Curriculum, Institute for Extraordinary Living, at edip@kripalu.org.


Personal Stories and Testimonials

I am growing into a new person. I am more open to evaluating my feelings and learning new ways to communicate. I have more energy to confront daily challenges, and discovered ways to control the stress of work, relationships, and life.
—Elmer Santos, Kripalu Food Server Supervisor, participant in the pilot IEL Standardized Yoga Curriculum program


Meet the Principal Investigator and Project Leader

Sara LazarSara Lazar, PhD, is an instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she specializes in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Dr. Lazar employs the latest techniques in brain-imaging in her research and has been widely cited in the mainstream press for her work on brain plasticity and meditation.

Edi PasalisEdi Pasalis, Director of Standardized Curriculum for the Institute for Extraordinary Living, has been a student and teacher of Kripalu Yoga for more than a decade, providing thousands of hours of yoga- and meditation-based training on and off the mat. Edi’s yoga education includes a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she studied the impact of yoga on spiritual life. She also has an MBA from the University of Michigan and has developed and led training in the corporate setting.

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