Living AnatoMe in Iceland!

April 9, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to bring the medley of anatomy and movement to a group of intrigued medical students in Iceland.

Iceland is a small country, and sometimes it feels like things are set in the ways that they’ve always been, so when I emailed the (only!) medical school here telling them about Living AnatoMe (LA), I didn’t expect a response. Months went by, and then one day, I received an email from a student who said my email had been making the rounds. I set the wheels in motion, rented a space, mats, did my outline, emailed the first year students with the dates and place and we had a little course ready! It was 6 weeks of 1 hour and 30 minute classes a week; the number of students that signed up and were able to come to my class were around 20 out of 45 first year med students.

I used the resources available to me from the LA  course outline but I also put my own twist on it.  I added so-called functional movements like squats, lunges, pushups and the like, had them explore their own anatomy through guided self massage and touch as well as posture assessments where i taught them about how to look at the body and notice anything out of alignment or even just noticing the way a particular body was held. We drew a scapula together identifying most of its crooks and crannies, mountains and valleys, as well as a full on yoga/Pilates class with music and sweat and of course relaxation in the end.

In the first class I introduced the planes and directions of the body and anatomical position in an alive and dynamic way and noticed straight away that this way of looking at those things was interesting and fun for them. Not only are these concepts new to the students but also the language is new, studying anatomy in English and Latin can be very daunting for people that have English as their first language let alone their second. We also looked at different students doing roll-downs and noted the lordosis and kyphosis (and scoliosis of some) and range of motion of the spine. At some point we did a Pilates side-lying combination for the deep lateral rotators complete with an intense piriformis exercise… I don’t think they’ll ever forget how it feels when the piriformis is firing and hopefully the facts around it like innervation, insertion and origin and piriformis syndrome were imprinted. I plan on fine-tuning and offering the course again next fall, maybe this time the medical school will show interest and allow me to borrow a spine or a pelvis to use for visual aid.

The opportunity to teach a living anatomy class appealed to me as a dancer and, in general, as a student of human anatomy and movement. Having studied dance and, later, Pilates led me to open myself up further to anatomical education, and teaching this class to the medical students helped me see ways to dig deeper into the material and understand how movement and anatomy complement each other in life and in pedagogy. We all are aware that we humans learn by doing and after doing teaching what we did is the best way to solidify knowledge. I learned a lot and recommend teaching LA not only because it helps you grow as a teacher but also because it gives you back so much. Long after having taught the classes I still get flashbacks or lingering thoughts and speculations that start to mold and form into deeper meaningful ways of teaching and looking at the human body. I strongly recommend the LA course to other movement and body instructors and practitioners who want to better understand the fundamentals underlying their craft.

About the author: Gudrun is a Pilates Instructor and engineering student in her native country of Iceland.

living anatome for Better Living & Learning

February 21, 2012

As a first year medical student, I made a promise to try to do yoga at least once a week. Not only did I fail to keep that promise, I think I only did yoga three times that entire year! As I progressed through medical school, I could not help thinking about this ever present question; don’t I deserve to treat my body with the same respect as I would recommend to my patients? Seems like a simple concept, yet surprisingly medical schools around the country do not seem to regard this as important. It’s not necessarily that medical schools lacks the resources or that medical students are unwilling to participate in self-care. Self-care just always seems to end up at the bottom of the to-do list. Continue reading “living anatome for Better Living & Learning”

Learn by experience (not just lecture!)

January 5, 2012

I came to medical school ready and excited to learn.  I felt that the knowledge was right there for the taking – I just had to go to lecture, listen, read, and the learning would happen.  However, while slogging through the dense biochemistry pathways and memorizing the names of all the muscles in the hand, I began to get the sense that there was more to learning than effort and following the rules.  It was not until I was well into my clinical rotations that I was able to truly appreciate that much of learning happens through experience.  I don’t remember the Raf/MEK pathway, but I can tell you the possible reasons why a 24 year old man may have liver failure – I had to figure out the answer to that question in order to help a patient.

As I’ve gone through residency and fellowship training, the notion that you have to create an experience in order to learn something has become more and more entrenched in my thinking about education.  That sounds nice, but how does one actually create these experiences?

Continue reading “Learn by experience (not just lecture!)”

Bring your anatome to life!

June 20, 2011

Spinalis, longissimus, iliocostalis.  Months after the end of Gross Anatomy, these terms (names of the muscles essential for back extension) had trickled from the center of my consciousness to its edges—barely held onto by my sieve-of-a-memory that was already sifting through new material.  Yet on April 1st, I attended a living anatome class: a yoga-Pilates hybrid emphasizing the functional movements of muscles and bones.  Through movement, the class made true to its promise, emphasizing the living aspect of muscles and bones that Grey’s Anatomy just doesn’t quite capture with its diagrams on a page.  Not only did the class bring these muscles back into consciousness (even adding some new ones—the multifidus muscles were judged unimportant by my professor) but it solidified my understanding of my spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis.  Even now, when these terms should have surely fled my mind, I still think of stretching my back as extending my erector spinae. I would highly recommend the classes to any medical student interested in understanding not only anatomy—but their own bodies—better.


About the author

Steven A. McDonald is currently finishing his first year of medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, where he is a wellness representative for his class.

Great press from Well + Good!!

March 24, 2011

It’s not good, it’s great!

Our favorite  wellness wire service, Well + Good, wanted to pass on the good word (pun intended), and wrote an awesome commentary on living anatome.  Why do we like them so much? Well, apart from having given us great press, they are driven by a similar mission as us folks here at living anatome land: they help  New Yorkers better care for themselves with advice from and access to a whole host of wellness gurus ranging from acupuncturists and nutritionists… to fellow New Yorkers who simply want to share their experiences of what they do in their own lives to feel well and good.

Plus… it’s a great way for anyone in the wellness industry (e.g. a medical student, resident) to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the larger community *and* find some great deals for fun, healthy services while scoping the scene.

Check out the article:

http://bit.ly/hPiJFc

 

Discover your body to better heal others

March 21, 2011

About three weeks after I began medical school in the fall of 2006, I was already beginning to feel jaded and uninspired.  I entered school with an exciting (and pretty naïve) vision of what was to come: I would learn the hard science of western medicine while integrating and incorporating all the complementary and alternative (CAM) health topics that truly inspired me – nutrition, yoga, and meditation to name a few. I was hopeful that some of this integration would be part of the core medical curriculum at Mount Sinai, and I was certain that I would find like-minded students with whom I could share this exciting journey.

Well, by October, I realized that there definitely would not be any courses on CAM included the formal curriculum, and with the intense course load, I was struggling to maintain my own sense of integration and balance in my daily life. Continue reading “Discover your body to better heal others”

Site explanation/FAQ

January 23, 2011

What is this site?

1. A way to learn & teach anatomy. This site provides free access to the living anatome curriculum for those interested in teaching it (or just seeing what it is). To this extent, the content includes: class outlines, teaching tips, logistical considerations, resource links, and a living anatome blog.

2. A forum for treating your anatomy well. Health is hard, and especially so on the wards. We want to not only help you teach others about anatomy (and learn more about yours in the process), but also help you take care of it. To this extent, there are two blogs you may contribute to and/or comment on: “Staying Healthy on the Wards,” and “Bones Says.”
Continue reading “Site explanation/FAQ”