Organizations doing pioneering work in yoga science:

The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) is pioneering the integration of yoga with mainstream healthcare.
IAYT was founded in 1989 by Larry Payne and Richard Miller to champion the cause of yoga as a healing art. In 1999, IAYT became a program of the Yoga Research and Education Center (YREC). In 2004, with the support of YREC and the original founders and leadership of IAYT, the Association once again became an independent nonprofit organization. Since then, IAYT has grown its membership, expanded its focus on scientific research, hosted Symposia on Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR) and Symposia on Yoga Research (SYR), and successfully won approval of its peer-reviewed Journal to be indexed by the National Library of Medicine. IAYT has emerged as the focus of many activities directed to documenting the health benefits of yoga (especially postural or hatha yoga), making the practices more widely available, and their therapeutic applications recognized within current healthcare reimbursement structures.
Study Buddhism features translator-practitioner Alex Berzin’s extensive translations, as requested by the Dalai Lama.
Under the direction of Tibetan Buddhist scholar-practitioner Alexander Berzin, the web-based archive of his translations has become a leading resource for authoritative information on the extraordinary range of yogas preserved in the Tibetan tradition. The Berzin archival website consists of translations and practical teachings by Dr. Berzin on the areas of Sutra, Tantra, Kalachakra, Dzogchen, and Mahamudra. It presents material from the five major Tibetan traditions: Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug, and Bön, as well as comparisons with Theravada Buddhism and Islam. Responding to direction from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the archive is being translated into a host of other languages. YSF provided web support for infrastructure, hardware, and hosting. Recently the name of the Berzin Archive was changed to “Study Buddhism.”
Founded by B. Alan Wallace, SBI provides ongoing research and education on the nature and potentials of the mind.
Following his 14 years of practice as a Tibetan Buddhist monk under the direct guidance of the Dalai Lama, B. Alan Wallace worked for many years to coordinate the scientific research team it would take to demonstrate conclusively that attention can be trained. (Read more about the Shamatha Project that resulted below.) In addition, YSF helped to make it possible for SBI to co-sponsor and for Alan to take part in the Oxford Colloquium on Buddhism and Science held in March of 2010. A “seminal series of videos was recorded during the 2-day meeting.”
Pointing Out the Great Way Foundation (POTGWF) supports the translation & teaching style innovations of Daniel P. Brown.
Founded in 2013, Pointing Out The Great Way Foundation works with Dr. Brown to transfer the essence traditions of Indo-Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist meditation to the West. Dr. Brown’s background in clinical psychology includes ten years of scientific research on meditation outcome studies, and over twenty five years on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He authoritatively compares and contrasts Buddhist and scientific perspectives in his teaching. The Pointing-Out Style of teaching meditation that he has developed is “a relational-based approach that was the primary means of transmission of these precious teachings for a half-century prior to the rise of monastic Mahayana Buddhism in the 11th century. Non-monastic, relational-based teachings of Mahayana Buddhist meditation and other spiritual practices are especially well-matched to modern Western society, whose great growth tradition is relationally-based psychotherapy, and more recently positive psychology.” The Foundation seeks to help revitalize the Pointing-Out Style of training in a way that respects the integrity of the original indigenous teachings, while making them accessible, understandable, and “implementable” by Westerners.
The Natural Wakefulness Center (NWC) aims to do all it can to make open-hearted awareness available to everyone.
The Open-Hearted Awareness Institute is the educational training division of NWC founded by psychologist and long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Loch Kelly. Loch was asked by Dzogchen master Mingyur Rinpoche to teach. The Institute is open to all people and is dedicated to the research, study, and teaching of direct methods to access open-hearted awareness, flow, effortless mindfulness, awakened heart-knowing and growing into a new stage of development that moves from ego-identification to Being.

Publication of important original translations from the yoga traditions:

Tamil Siddhas is a series of original first translations into English of the key works of the little-known high spiritual culture of the Tamils.
Over a period of years, we supported the ongoing effort on the part of the Yoga Siddha Research Project based in Chennai, India to collect, preserve, translate, and publicize the wealth of yoga wisdom preserved in the Tamil Siddha tradition. Through Canadian-based Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, founder-director M. Govindan has worked tirelessly in support of this ambitious and important project. Thus far, an extensive series of volumes have been produced that for the first time opens to English-speaking scholars and practitioners a window upon this vast and little-known tradition of Yoga.
Yantra Yoga is a first English translation of the ~9th Century “Sun and Moon Tantra” of Padmasambhava to Vairotsana (centuries before “hatha?”).
We supported the manuscript preparation at Snow Lion of an important translation under the direction of Tibetan Dzogchen master Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche on the physical yoga system of ancient Tibet known as “Yantra Yoga.” Georg Feuerstein suspected this tradition might predate the better known hatha yoga system of postures and breathing by several centuries. This volume thus makes a seminal contribution to our growing understanding of the vast treasure house of yoga. It was published in 2008 and has been followed by a number of further works that deepen our access to these ancient spirituo-physical practices.
Roots of Yoga is arguably the deepest and most detailed look to date into the origins of what most of us today think of as “yoga” with translations of key texts.
‘Yoga is to be known through yoga. Yoga arises from yoga. One who is vigilant by means of yoga delights in yoga for a long time’. Yoga is hugely popular around the world today, yet often little is known of its roots. This book collects, for the first time, core teachings of yoga in their original form, translated and edited by two of the world’s foremost scholars of the subject. It includes a wide range of texts from different schools of yoga, languages and eras: among others, key passages from the early Upaniṣads and the Mahābhārata, and from the Tantric, Buddhist and Jaina traditions, with many pieces in scholarly translation for the first time. Covering yoga’s varying definitions across systems, models of the esoteric and physical bodies, and its most important practices, such as posture, breath-control, sensory withdrawal and meditation, Roots of Yoga is a unique and essential source of knowledge.

Scientific Research studies of yoga:

Despite the oft-quoted statement to the contrary by William James, the historic finding of the Shamatha Project is not widely known: clear evidence that attention can be trained.
During the decade B. Alan Wallace practiced in Nepal under the direction of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he came to dream of validating his contemplative experience with state-of-the-art scientific research. So, he left monastic life, returned to the West, earned his bachelor’s degree at Amherst College with a focus on physics followed by a PhD in religion at Stanford University. After further decades of translating, writing, teaching, and networking, he founded the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and worked to assemble a world-class team of university scientists to carry out the largest and most-sophisticated-ever scientific research study of meditation. Under the direction of Principal Investigator Clifford Saron at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain, data collection took place in 2007. Data analysis and publication in leading scientific journals continues to date.
The Carnegie-Mellon meditation app is looking to broaden access to meditation training while simultaneously monitoring efficacy.
This research aims to test models of stress reduction and coping through mindfulness meditation, and thus help explain how mindfulness can improve health outcomes through psychosocial and biological pathways. Associate Professor David Creswell, and graduate student Emily Lindsay at Carnegie Mellon University are partnering with renowned mindfulness meditation instructor Shinzen Young to “dismantle and test the active components” of mindfulness training for reducing stress. The team will use Virtual Shinzen, an audio-guided smartphone-based mindfulness program, to test how mindfulness practices change everyday responses to stress. This research may ultimately allow us to better understand how aspects of mindfulness practices change underlying immune processes to improve health outcomes. It will also inform the development of an accessible, interactive mindfulness training system using new media.
Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School research is looking to deepen our understanding of contemplative practice under the direction of David Vago.
Contemplative neurosciences refer to an emerging field of research that focuses on the changes within the mind, brain, and body as a result of contemplative practices, such as mindfulness-based meditation, tai chi, or yoga. Contemplative practice, meanwhile, in general, refers to a particular form of observation in which there is a total devotion to revealing, clarifying, and making manifest the nature of reality. The science is interdisciplinary and attempts to clarify such mind-brain-body changes across emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual domains with an emphasis for relating such changes to neurobiology and first-person experience. YSF’s support of this work has focused on enabling Wolfgang Lukas to take part in the collaborative work being done by this ambitious project.
The Center for Mindfulness Research is pioneering research on advanced mediation as part of a comprehensive research program.
Under the direction of Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, CfM is engaged in wide-ranging research and collaboration on mindfulness and its applications in health care. In particular, YSF has supported the participation of Wolfgang Lukas in an ongoing collaboration to explore EEG neurofeedback as a tool for meditation education.
The SEEMJ Archive provides open access to the world’s only 25 year archive of peer-reviewed scientific studies of subtle energies.
This scholarly journal was published for 21 years beginning in 1990. Concerning consciousness, healing, and human potential, it focused on the study of subtle energies and informational systems interacting with the human psyche and physiology. The archive contains full-text-searchable pdfs for free download. SEEMJ was peer-reviewed and designed to meet the needs of experimental scientists, other empirical researchers, clinicians, theoreticians, healers, and involved laypersons with scientific interest in consciousness, healing, and the dynamics of human potential. It provided guidelines, scientific background, and scientific credibility for energy applications and supported increased dialog among clinicians, healers, and the scientific and medical communities. The Journal includes leading edge experimental research, theoretical essays, clinical papers, case reports, perspectives, commentaries, and other articles of general interest. Explicitly interdisciplinary, fields included, but were not limited to, complementary and alternative medicine, applied psychophysiology and biofeedback, new physics, and bioelectric medicine.

Graduate Stipends

Amy Beddoe’s dissertation focused on Yoga in Pregnancy and was completed at UCSF.
Our first graduate stipend was in support of the PhD research of Amy Beddoe, RN, at the UCSF School of Nursing. Her dissertation, “Mindfulness-Based Yoga during Pregnancy: A Pilot Study Examining Relationships Between Stress, Anxiety, Sleep, and Pain” “demonstrated important clinical improvements in sleep and pain for women who began mindful-yoga in their second trimester.”
Stephen Aichele’s graduate research work at UCDavis focused on the use of multivariate analysis for the Shamatha Project.
As part of the Shamatha project, Stephen helped explore the application of sophisticated statistical multivariate analyses. He is named author on nine of the publications that have come out of that project to date including the landmark publication MacLean, et al, Intensive meditation training improves perceptual discrimination and sustained attention. (Psychol Sci, 21(6):829-39) which was the first ever to definitively document that attention can be trained.
James Elliot’s dissertation research on meditation was completed at UCSB.
James Elliott pursued his doctoral degree in cognitive neuroscience under the guidance of Dr. Barry Giesbrecht at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There are three aspects to James’ research: 1) how failures of attention influence processing in the brain, 2) the relationship between consciousness and attention, and 3) how meditation influences neural and cognitive processes. James’ work on meditation includes research on the influence of a week-long meditation retreat on attention, and a study on the neural correlates of long-term Inner Heat Yoga (gTummo) practice of Tibetan Yoginis (under the guidance of Dr. Maria Kozhevnikov). Furthermore, while in graduate school James continued his personal contemplative training under the guidance of Dr. B. Alan Wallace, including a month long retreat in Thailand that was followed by the 5-week Cultivating Emotional Balance Teacher Training Program.