Joe Loizzo on Pioneering a Yoga Psychology Path

Joe Loizzo, a psychiatrist and Buddhist scholar, brings mindfulness to the public.

Joe Loizzo

A psychiatrist and Buddhist scholar brings mindfulness to the public.

As a Harvard university–trained psychiatrist and Columbia University–trained Buddhist scholar—as well as the founder and director of New York City’s Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science—Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD, is a pioneering researcher and educator at the convergence of mental health, yoga, and meditation. To share his discoveries, Loizzo will launch a 100-hour advanced training this October at Nalanda in yoga psychology, integrating the mindfulness practices of Indian yoga with Buddhist methods used to ease suffering.

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Yoga Journal: What is Nalanda?
Joe Loizzo: The Nalanda Institute opened in 2005 to make meditation and yoga-based health education and counseling accessible to the public. Nalanda helps people infuse ancient contemplative science into their modern lives. It’s based on a mind-body health care tradition developed at India’s Nalanda University from the fifth through the thirteenth centuries, and that’s still studied in Tibet today.

YJ:Why are meditation and yoga important elements of health care?
JL: There is a growing understanding in modern neuroscience of how intertwined our minds and bodies are. It has helped us more fully appreciate the importance and power of somatic, or body-centered, modes of learning and healing, such as yoga. For example, in psychiatry, even when deep reflection has made us aware of repressed memories that block our progress, body-centered approaches can help open the door to quicker and deeper transformation.

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YJ: One of your goals is to reunite yoga and Buddhism. Why is that?
JL: These two ancient Indic traditions evolved side by side, but they have increasingly lost touch with each other in the modern era. We have learned from neuroscience that the top-down approach of Buddhist mind-training and the bottom-up, body-based approach of yoga complement one another to foster mind-body integration.

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