Workshop Descriptions

Below is a list of workshops that I have had an opportunity to share with different groups. Leave a comment below if your group or organization might like to have a presentation from the list you see here, or let me know if we can develop something to address specific concerns.

Workshop Descriptions


Upside-down and inside out

Study balancing from your brain to your toes with a neuroscientist. What cues does your brain use for balancing when you are upside down and in tree pose? Use recent findings in brain research to develop better strategies for balancing and understanding what your body is trying to do.

 Eight limbs for two left feet

An examination into how yoga helps improve coordination in children and the elderly. Also included are programs and ideas that have been developed for increasing balance, posture, mobility and how the brain and body respond to the impact of asana.

 The Brain in an Asana

Why does my brain think my back is straight when my yoga teacher says it isn’t? Take a whirlwind tour through the brain areas responsible for understanding the puzzle of where our limbs are in space. Using breakthrough research you will learn the practical ways to make the most of corrections, feedback from mirrors and your own knowledge of your body.

 This is your brain….on Yoga

This is your brain….this is your brain on yoga: A neuroscientist will discuss: recent clinical research linking the practice of yoga, pranayama breathing with their impact on the human brain and the findings on stress. Also discussed will be the immune response and memory and research related to yoga and select neurological disorders.

Ow!  I think I sprained my cow!

What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?  How long should I wait before applying ice to an injury? Or should I use heat? This workshop looks at some basic musculo-skeletal injuries that are common to yoga practices, helps you to understand what has happened to the tissues and how the inflammatory response works.  We will also consider first-aid, safe remediation practice and other interventions for improving healing times, reducing pain and making the most of a bad thing.

From mind to molecule to muscle to Malasana

How does a brain signal end up as a yoga pose?  Using interactive demonstrations, participant activities and the most recent research, this workshop takes participants from the micro to the macro in understanding the basics of neuromuscular physiology and the function of movement, including a brief overview of muscle stretch receptors.

Looking inside a downward dog and up a tree

Does downward dog stretch all of your calf muscles or only one? Does it stretch or strengthen the latissimus dorsi? Why does it sometimes hurt in the shoulder joint? Is it bad when the top part of my hip moves before I go into tree stance? Why am I better on one side than the other? What on earth does this move even do for me? This workshop explores Adho Mukha Svanasan and Vrksasana from the viewpoint of a kinesiologist and introduces basic ideas of movement analysis and muscle function at a cellular, neural and system-wide level, using these popular poses as a launch pad to understand how our body works for movement, from skeleton, joints and muscles all the way to our fascial web.

The embodied yogi:
how re-creating the body creates the mind

New research from the cutting edge of neuroscience suggests that our very thinking and sense of self emerges from perceptions of how our bodies interact with the environment. This workshop asks provocative questions about traditional western and eastern views of the mind and body and proposes that the names, breathing, moves and postures of yoga literally shape the minds, thoughts and identities of its practitioners.

Beyond perfect bodies:
How to use yoga with ‘movement-challenged’ populations

The benefits of yoga hold incredible promise for those with compromised movement, however even ‘beginner’ classes can be challenging for those who struggle with coordination, muscular or neurological conditions.  Based on recent research from movement science, this workshop for both students and teachers will look at concrete ideas for how to adapt a class ‘on-the-fly’ or how to specifically sequence a practice to enhance movement and function for the growing number of practitioners with movement-related challenges.

Balance, community and yoga:
New thoughts on the teaching and learning of an old art

Stand in front of a class, do a move, say the name, ask your students to do the move. Is this the best way for people to learn yoga, improve balance and develop community?  The ‘classic’ presentation of the yoga class does not reflect best practices for movement training in other disciplines.  What might we learn from movement science to transform our teaching practice? This workshop will examine recent findings and cherished assumptions as well as present findings from new research into teaching in the yoga classroom to help develop your teaching practice, keeping the best of the old and incorporating the best of the new.

Anatomy and Physiology

I am my own yoga anatomy book

Does king pigeon pose stretch or strengthen the hip flexors?  Or both? Have you ever wondered what a certain move does? What if you don’t have an anatomy book in your pocket?  This lightning introduction to movement analysis will give you the tools to figure out the basic actions behind any yoga posture, and whether or not a posture is designed for strength or stretch, and how to know the difference.

How stretching works

What are the properties of a muscle that allow it to contract and be stretched? What factors enhance stretching?  Why might breathing help with stretching? What does any of this have to do with yoga?  A kinesiologist considers the neurons, molecules and tissues involved in stretching as well as reflex emotional and other factors that can impede or help stretching.  This basic overview of the stretching process will be useful for teacher and practitioner alike, and will include discussion and ideas on how to apply the most recent research on stretching into your yoga practice.


Bodyworker, Alchemist:
How manual therapies transform minds, bodies and lives

What happens when we touch someone to heal them? Where does stress “go” as the result of a massage? How might thinking and the brain be involved in a client’s ability to relax or be healed? This workshop considers bodywork as vehicle for change in postural and movement patterns as well as the relationships between injury and stress, and touch and the human brain

Press, pain; stress, brain

Why won’t my client relax when I ask him to?  When is it useful to ask my client to work through the pain of treatment?  When should I back off?  This hands-on overview of neurophysiology of pain will help you to understand how pain works, how the brain develops behaviour around chronic pain and how manual therapies can mediate the pain cycle.

Learn to Practice Thai Yoga Massage

This six hour “appetizer” will introduce you to the ancient practice of Thai Yoga Massage, yoga’s sister art. In addition to learning a basic 30-minute massage, you will learn how to gently move your partner into assisted stretches, apply pressure appropriately and to integrate compassion (“Metta”) into your work. The focus on proper alignment for both practitioner and recipient, as well as safe body mechanics makes this course ideal for those wishing to learn more about this healing art, as well as for yoga teachers wishing to improve their assisted stretches. This course comes with a free massage built right in!

The Arts:

This is your brain… on the arts

Why should a student study art? What is the connection between your drama class and Canada’s innovation economy? Does dancing make you a better scientist? Based on recent brain research, this talk takes a whirlwind tour of thinking, creativity, and learning as brain processes that can be shaped by arts education, and considers the benefit of that education for aging brains. While we can’t provide an answer for every nay-saying parent and administrator, this presentation at least provides some food for…well… thought.

Why dance is more basic than math

We are poised on a unique step in human history, witnessing the development of extreme sports and brain-machine interfaces, yet with an increasingly sedentary population. Since our brains and our very sense of self emerge from our bodies, this moment in our cultural, social and biological development is critical. Join neuroscientist Blake Martin on an inspiring tour of the moving, thinking brain and learn why dance is as “back to basic” and important as we can get.

2 thoughts on “Workshop Descriptions”

  1. Dr. Blake,

    I have studied with you at the Yoga Conference and just recently took your “Pain in the Neck” workshop through Still Light Center… LOVED IT. Anyhow, I have a yoga studio in North Bay and would love to discuss having you up for an advanced anatomy of yoga workshop for yoga teachers. Let me know if you are interested and we can let the conversation start.

    I hope this finds you enjoying this beautiful start to summer.

    Muchas Metta,

    1. Hi Joanne!
      Thanks for your kind words. I would LOVE to visit your studio in North Bay (what a great city!). I will send you an email so we can chat!


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