ofof y X-ray of spine, ribs and pelvis

Revolutions in Yoga: Historical, Biological, & Medical

A global collaboration between Yoga Ashram, Dubai & Avalon Yoga International, Inc. — based in Palo Alto, CA, in the heart of Silicon Valley and at the foot of Stanford University.

Medical look at yoga

Program Introduction

In the last five years the yoga world has undergone a remarkable revolution. That revolution has deepened our understanding of yoga's ancient & modern development, its biological foundations, and its medical uses. The most dramatic changes have confirmed yoga's ability to treat a long line of degenerative diseases still often mistaken as 'normal' adjuncts of aging.

Stanford University Stanford University, Palo Alto, California - adjacent to Avalon Yoga International, Inc.

As part of this revolution, Avalon Yoga International, Inc. has drawn on its extensive  links in the research community to develop the most advanced Yoga Training Program in the world. Avalon's Faculty includes some of the planet's leading yoga practitioners along with researchers from Stanford University's School of Medicine, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Barbara, Cambridge University, the War Related Illness & Injury Study Center of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and other top institutions.

In the last decade Avalon has trained hundreds of leading yoga teachers, medical experts, and yoga enthusiasts from every part of the world. For a sense of the unrivaled academic quality of Avalon's Faculty and curriculum, click here on its upcoming 26th 200-hour Program, which has already enrolled top students from the U.S., South America, Europe, India, & China.

Yoga Ashram Yoga Ashram: Sweeping vews of Dubai from the 15th floor

In a unique global collaboration, this fall the Directors of Avalon Yoga will teach all sides of the ongoing yoga revolution in a Super-Intensive 100-hour Training Program at Yoga Ashram, Dubai  — the first University-level & strictly science-based Yoga Teacher Training Program ever offered anywhere in the Middle East!

Classes will run from 9 am - 5 pm from 21 November - 4 December 2015, with breaks in formal classes (we may schedule optional special events during those breaks) on Fridays.

The Program is open to experienced & future yoga teachers, M.D.s and other medical specialists, physical therapists, clinical psychologists & neuropsychologists, and all others who want to 'deepen' their yoga practices, take fuller control of their mental & physical lives, and be updated thoroughly on far-reaching scientific findings that are rapidly reshaping the yoga & medical worlds.

The Dubai Program has been custom designed for Yoga Ashram by Avalon's three Physical Training & Research Directors — Steve Farmer, Ph.D., David Furman, Ph.D., and Brian Aganad, ERYT-500 — all of whom are playing large personal roles in those developments. For their detailed biographies, see below.


The 100-hour Program leads to certification by Avalon Yoga International, Inc., which has trained many hundreds of top teachers, medical specialists, physical therapists, and yoga enthusiasts from all over the world. The Program is complete & self-contained in itself, but graduates wanting optional 200-hour or 500-hour certification through the U.S. Yoga Alliance (YA), to which Avalon has belonged for many years, will have a chance to do so in further graduate-school level yoga training planned for Dubai and California later this winter.

While it typically takes many years of teaching to become a world-class instructor, with rare regional exceptions formal certification is not a requirement for teaching yoga professionally. Graduates of the Dubai Program will receive the most advanced university-level training in yoga available anywhere —  going far beyond the rudimentary training offered in the thousands of generic programs run by giant corporations, gyms, and New Age studios that currently dominate the multi-billion dollar commercial 'yoga industry'.


Avalon is famous for encouraging its graduates to develop unique personal styles by drawing on as wide a range of ancient, medieval, and modern traditions as possible. The creativity of Avalon students is one of the trademark features of its graduates, many of whom who have gone on to become influential teachers and researchers in medical yoga.

Keeping our graduates up on the latest research on yoga is critical to all Avalon Programs. With this in mind, all Dubai students will be enrolled in an exclusive email List run by Avalon that reviews the latest scientific papers in yoga and related medical fields nearly as soon as they appear. 

Yoga styles explored in Avalon Programs typically include the following; others are added regularly on student request:

Besides diverse yoga styles, the Dubai Program will cover these research topics in depth:

One of many innovative parts of the Dubai Program includes its coverage of how new laboratory tests using saliva and/or blood samples can be used to track how low-grade inflammation and diseases of aging respond to therapies combining yoga & evolutionary medicine. Student volunteers will have the opportunity to take those tests as part of a research project designed by Avalon's Director of Research, David Furman, Ph.D., from the Department of Immunology at Stanford Medical School.

Enrollment & Contact Information

Registration will continue until the Dubai Program is sold out. Tuition is AED 9200. The tuition covers any medical tests taken by student volunteers during the term (see preceding section).

To enroll , drop by Yoga Ashram at the following address, or email us at the link below (copies go to both the Dubai and Palo Alto Studios).

If you are from the U.S. and want to attend the Super-Intensive, we can register you in the U.S. in dollar equivalents and help you arrange for nearby hotels over the two weeks; just email us again at the address below :

Yoga Ashram JLT, 1504, Jumeirah Bay
X3, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

Faculty Biographies

The Program has been custom designed by Avalon's Directors, the first two of whom will lead all classes in Dubai:

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How does the Yoga Ashram/Avalon Program differ from the thousands of conventional yoga teacher training programs offered in Europe, the US, and Middle East, etc.?

A: The vast majority of yoga teacher training programs, many run by giant gym-owning corporations, focus narrowly on styles invented in the 1940s-1970s from a fusion of Indian & European elements (Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, etc.) or teach a simplified Vinyasa/Flow style derived from these that appeared even later. These 20th-century styles, which are often misrepresented as being ancient, represent a small part of the styles taught in Avalon Programs. Conventional programs also tend for marketing purposes to stress 'New Age' views of yoga whose claims to antiquity have been thoroughly debunked by academic researchers in the last half decade. None of these programs seriously cover yoga's growing role in behavioral medicine in treating diseases of aging, PTSD & depression, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic disorders. On this topic, see this recent review written by Avalon for its students. Outside Avalon, it should be noted that a few University Programs now exist that take purely scientific approaches to yoga, including one at Duke University Medical School and one just begun at the University of Virginia. However, none of these cover in depth recent historical studies in yoga nor global yoga styles. 

Brian Aganad Brian Aganad, ERYT-500, Avalon Director of Physical Training

Q: Do I have to have an advanced practice or lots of yoga experience to enroll in the Dubai Program?

A: No on both counts. The philosophy that drives Avalon's Programs is that yoga in its modern forms is for everyone. In California, Avalon has trained a long line of top teachers who previously had little or no experience in yoga or who were recovering from serious injuries.  Some of Avalon's best graduates have also had to limit the physical sides of their practices due to chronic diseases, including osteoarthritis, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and major neurodegenerative disorders. Avalon's Director of Physical Training, Brian Aganad, ERYT-500, shown practicing on the right, has one of the world's strongest physical practices — and for this reason it is great studying with him. But having a strong practice like Brian's or even being 'flexible' is not critical to being a great yoga teacher; all ancient yoga and some modern forms (including those taught by the India-based Art of Living Foundation, which has special ties to Yoga Ashram, Dubai) focus much more on the benefits of meditation and controlled breathing practices than on postural yoga. The Dubai Program aims to provide a balanced view of all sides of yoga, including its moral & meditative elements, controlled breathing, & links to scientific nutrition — as well as its physical side.

Q: I've forgotten even my basic high school biology! Will the scientific parts of the training go over my head?

A: No again! One remarkable side of the emerging scientific revolution in yoga is that most of its principles are quite intuitive — involving subtle ways (involving 'systems biology') in which changes in posture, breathing, and mental practices affect human health all the way to the level of gene expression. In ways reviewed in Dubai, we can in fact now precisely measure those effects using high-throughput sequencing technologies. Our Directors have had many years of experience teaching the scientific sides of yoga to audiences ranging from senior medical researchers to laypersons with no biological training. Many of our graduates who previously had little if any scientific training are now teaching those principles successfully to their own students.

Q: What will a typical day be like during the Dubai Program?

A: Every class day will normally include some lecture & discussion, usually at the start of the day. Detailed outlines will be handed out before each class, allowing students to concentrate fully on the subjects of the day without taking notes. The rest of the day will involve practice in a wide range of postural, controlled breathing, and meditative techniques, typically closely related to new materials presented that morning.  Late afternoons will be dedicated to hands-on practice teaching, which we've found is essential even for students who don't plan to become professional teachers — guided by the adage that those who teach 'learn twice.' Keeping the training active rather than passive is essential to the Program, whose aim is not just to turn out great teachers but to radically change lives.

Q: Where do I sign up?

A: Avalon Programs in the U.S. have sold out early each term for  many years. So long as openings remain in the Dubai Program, see the contact information under Enrollment above!