Neuroscience, Yoga Meditation & Mental Health

Neuroscience, Yoga Meditation & Mental Health: Fostering Pandemic Resilience and Recovery on June 20th, 2021

Topics include:

  • Neuroscience of Yoga Meditation and Mental Health

  • Integrative Mental Health in the Time of COVID

  • Psychological First Aid Training for Community Workers

  • Yoga Resiliency Model for Mental Health

Dr. Stephen Parker (Stoma)

Stephen Parker, Psy. D. was initiated in the Himalayan Yoga tradition by Swami Veda Bharati and was given the initiate name Stoma in 1971. Among the first teachers certified by the Himalayan International Teachers’ Association, H.I.T.A., he began teaching hatha-yoga in 1974. Stoma is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at the 500 hour level of the Yoga Alliance (E-RYT 500) and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Council on Yoga Accreditation International ( In addition to authoring journal articles and book chapters, Dr. Parker (a retired clinical psychologist) edited volume two of Swami Veda’s definitive scholarly work on the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali. He has also recently published a book on the process of spiritual purification in yoga entitled Clearing the Path, the yoga way to a clear and pleasant mind: Patañjali, neuroscience and emotion.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky

Helen Lavretsky, MD is a Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, an integrative and geriatric academic psychiatrist with a large research portfolio dedicated to neuroscience of mind-body medicine (yoga, meditation and Tai Chi) and with a large number of publications including 3 books dedicated to the use of mind-body interventions like yoga, Tai Chi and meditation to boost resilience to stress, and to improve treatment response in depression and delay cognitive decline in older adults, as well as in stressed caregivers. She directs an Integrative Psychiatry program at UCLA and is the Director of Research for the UCLA Integrative Medicine collaborative.

Dr. Manoj Jain

Manoj Jain, MD MPH is an infectious disease physician, a writer, and a national leader in healthcare quality improvement. He received his engineering, doctorate, and public health degree from Boston University. He did his residency, fellow and executive public health training at Boston City Hospital, New England Medical Center, Tufts University and Harvard School of Public Health, respectively. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank on HIV, and has been interviewed by CNN and National Public Radio. Over the past 15 years Dr. Jain has given over a 150 talks, and published numerous scientific articles, chapters and books. Dr. Jain has conducted research on HIV epidemiology, quality improvement, and spirituality & meditation. Presently, Dr. Jain is an Infectious disease consultant at Baptist Memorial Hospital and Methodist Hospitals in Memphis. He is also a clinical Associate Professor at University of Tennessee, Memphis and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.

Mrs. Sowmya Srikumar

Sowmya Srikumar, M.Phil. works predominantly as psychiatric social worker in private practice with a post graduate diploma in special education. Her mental health experience includes remediation of reading, writing, and arithmetic difficulties in children having specific learning difficulties, Autism spectrum disorders, Attention deficit hyperactive disorders and intellectual disabilities. She counsels parents in coping with the emotional aspects of having children with special needs using principles of positive psychotherapy and mindfulness. During COVID, she offers Educational presentations through webinars for professionals and parents on behavior management, and handling emotional needs of parents.

Dr. Aparna Ramaswamy

Aparna Ramaswamy, EdD, PhD, LCPC is a Bharatha Natyam dancer & teacher whose first doctoral research was on Natya Yoga – linking the practices of Bharatha Natyam to the principles of yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yogasutra. As a mental health counselor and counselor educator, Aparna utilizes yoga and meditation in counseling people with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. She completed her second doctorate on the role of yoga meditation in cultivating mindfulness, humility and empathy in counselors. She is Senior Lecturer in the Counseling program at Johns Hopkins University, and a professional mental health counselor in the State of MD and Washington, DC.

Event Partner

Vivekananda Yoga University (VaYU) is the world's first Yoga university outside of India focused on Graduate Yoga Education and Research. VaYU is located in Los Angeles, California, USA.

VaYU is founded on the principles of the great 19th century Yoga Master Swami Vivekananda who brought Yoga to the USA in 1893, and his prescription for universal welfare. VaYU offers online graduate programs centered on evidence-based Yoga and modern scientific approaches to the traditional ancient Indian practice of Yoga.