UTA researchers launch online course to provide scientific understanding of how the digital age is affecting our lives and how yoga can be restorative

Thursday, Jun 15, 2017 • Media Contact : Louisa Kellie

Catherine Spann, researcher at UTA's Learning Innovation & Networked Knowledge or LINK research Lab

The University of Texas at Arlington and the Free Life People™ School of Yoga, a local Arlington business, are teaming up to instruct a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC centered on yoga and wellness in the digital age, which is open and free for interested students around the globe.

The course will discuss the science-backed implications of the digital age on your health and teach students how to use yoga to counter the musculoskeletal effects of digital use. Translating ancient yogic teachings into modern day life and using yoga to interrupt habitual thought patterns are two other areas covered in the course.

“As a research lab, we are interested in understanding how to be well—to be human—in a digital age. What does it mean to be human in an era where automated technologies are taking over many traditional jobs? Or where we are constantly distracted with notifications and our attention is rarely focused on the present moment?” said George Siemens, Executive Director of the Learning Innovation & Networked Knowledge or LINK research Lab.

George Siemens, Executive Director of the Learning Innovation & Networked Knowledge or LINK research Lab

Hosted by edX – an open online platform with over 10 million registered learners created by Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yoga MOOC: The Science and Practice of Yoga is a six-week course with a real focus on practical applications. 

Instructors of the MOOC bring a dynamic blend of science and practice. Stacy and Dave Dockins are the creators and lead facilitators of Free Life People™ School of Yoga and owners of The Yoga Project Studios, which has four locations in Texas, including Arlington. They have trained hundreds of instructors to teach yoga as a life-transforming practice rooted in mindfulness.

"As we pay attention to concrete breath and body sensations within a yoga posture, we strengthen our understanding of ourselves and our ability to be in the present moment,” said Stacy Dockins. “This connection to self, our present moment, and our surroundings is at the center of optimal mind and body wellness. During this MOOC, we will explore the techniques that enable this connection to happen."

Catherine Spann and George Siemens of the LINK Research Lab offer years of experience in online education and psychological research in learning and well-being. Spann has led numerous research studies in controlled lab settings, museums, and classrooms with both children and adults on the topics of mindfulness and self-regulation. Dr. Siemens continues to investigate advances in how technology influences learning.

“The idea that yoga means twisting yourself into extraordinary poses is simply false. Western science has come to understand that yoga is as much about the mind as it is the body,” Spann said. “The course will provide learners with a scientific understanding of how the digital age is affecting our lives and how the practice of yoga can be restorative.”

The Yoga MOOC is free and open to anyone interested in learning the science and practice of yoga. No previous yoga experience is needed and this course is tailored to those who want to learn the basics of postures, as well as experienced practitioners or instructors looking to deepen their practice.

Throughout the course, participants will have the opportunity to meet and discuss yoga and meditation with people from across the world. In addition, they can encourage friends, family, and colleagues to sign up with them to build a great community of support.

Registration for the Yoga MOOC is now open, with the class set to run October 16 through November 26, 2017. To learn more and register for the class, please visit www.yogamooc.com.