The Physiology of Yoga

Hi all!

While I already know many of you from working behind the desk for the past year, I would like to officially introduce myself as a new manager at Coolidge Corner Yoga. I am thrilled for the opportunity to become more involved with this awesome community of people that has come together in an effort to “feel good, do good.”

In addition to my role as manager, I will be utilizing my academic and athletic background to create a new blog component to the CCY website,  The Physiology of Yoga. To give you an idea of where I’m coming from, I have trained as a physiologist for the past nine years, working in a variety of different settings. I completed a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, minoring in sports medicine, at Pepperdine University in 2010. While obtaining my degree, I was involved in research investigating how the body controls the
return of blood from the peripheral circulation to the heart. Following graduation, I had the privilege of working with a psychiatrist, helping to grow and administer a new therapy program for patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric illnesses. After helping establish this program, I moved to San Diego, where I earned a Master’s degree in exercise physiology from San Diego State University. There, my focus was on the biochemistry of both exercise and nutrition. During this time, I was lucky enough to conduct research on the effects of several styles of military training, as well as to produce a novel paper on the effects of Bikram Yoga on new and experienced practitioners. After completing this work, I realized I wanted to pursue an even deeper understanding of the human body, so I moved to Boston to complete a second Master’s degree in human physiology at Boston University. During this time, I expanded my knowledge in several realms of basic science while gaining a greater understanding of how airway smooth muscle and vascular smooth muscle physiologically respond to various life stressors.

I have also been an athlete my entire life. I started swimming at age seven, trained with a national team at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs during high school, and went on to swim for a NCAA Division I team in college. During this time, I was able to learn from some of the top trainers and nutritionists in the country. Training at this high intensity for over a decade provided me with a complementary, experiential education, which allowed me to begin drawing connections between my academic and athletic backgrounds.

However, it was not until I took up a consistent yoga practice in college that I truly began to see the deep, interconnected nature of my athletic and academic training . From the moment I stepped into my first class, I knew yoga would be an influential force throughout my life. During class, I would find myself repeatedly making connections with what I was learning in the academic realm to things that would surface, both physically and mentally, during my practice. These connections solidified my belief in the power that a yoga practice can have on our lives. I have developed a passion for raising awareness and understanding of how our bodies and minds can benefit from yoga and the yogic lifestyle. Undoubtedly, there is a wealth of information on the positive outcomes that can result from yoga. However, sometimes this information can be lost  on the general public because of the overwhelming body of literature and overuse of scientific jargon. I hope to utilize my broad scientific knowledge base to condense and interpret the existing literature into “bite-sized” portions for the CCY community, as well as offer new perspectives on how our physiology relates to our yoga practice.

The Physiology of Yoga  will feature original content on a variety of topics including the physiology of yoga, kinesiology, nutrition, mindful living, and much more. I look forward to contributing to the knowledge CCY has to offer and am always open to suggestions if there is a particular topic you would like to see highlighted. I am here to translate the science behind issues that are directly impacting our community.


-Jessica Pate