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Yoga asanas as an effective form of experiential learning when teaching musculoskeletal anatomy of the lower limb


  • Danielle C. Bentley,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Department of Exercise Sciences, University of Toronto, University Athletic Center, 55 Harbord St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2W6
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  • Stephen C. Pang

    1. Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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Physical movement as a conduit for experiential learning within the academic context of anatomy is a strategy currently used in university dance education. This same approach can be applied to other movement-based practices, for example, yoga. The primary purpose of this study was to pilot a novel teaching curriculum to yoga practitioners, based on Bruner's Theory of Instruction, which incorporated the four adaptive modes of Kolb's Theory of Experiential Learning. The secondary purpose was to assess the applicability of anatomical knowledge within the participants' yoga practice. Following the development of a curriculum appropriate for a spectrum of academic backgrounds, participants were recruited to attend a 2-hour learning session within the Department of Anatomy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The learning session guided participants through the bones and muscles of the lower limb pertaining to five specific yoga poses. Based on participant feedback, the sessions were positively received and consistent. In addition, learning session participants were able to apply the anatomical information they were taught to their yoga practice 1-month later. Bruner and Kolb's independent theories on curriculum design and effective learning practice were successfully incorporated to create a 2-hour learning session. The potential use of experiential learning to compliment and/or enhance traditional didactic teaching in the academic context of anatomy should be further explored. Anat Sci Educ. © 2012 American Association of Anatomists.