If my last blog post has you considering taking a week or so of your life to spend in a cadaver dissection course with Gil Hedley or another teacher, I encourage you to take the plunge.

Since most of us do not spend much time in a laboratory environment, here are a few strategies to make your time in the lab as body- and spirit-friendly as possible, so that you can focus your energies well.

  • Have comfortable shoes. It’s good to have a dedicated pair of shoes that are close-toed (for protection from falling instruments) and cushioned so that you can stand for long periods of time without feeling too much pressure in your hips and back. After my first lab experience, I decided to bring a pair of shoes that are exclusively worn there, so that I don’t have to worry about tracking anything around outside the lab. Some folks like to wear booties, which may be a better option for you.
  • Invest in a second lab coat. The last thing I want to do after a long day of standing is laundry, so I invested in a second lab coat. I was grateful to be wearing one and have a spare at the ready.
  • Keep a small, personal notebook. I have found it handy to have a small notebook that fits in my lab coat pocket, because I like to be able to write notes—either to capture something interesting that Gil or another somanaut has said, or to record my own observations in the moment. The first time I took the intensive I was so busy processing information and I thought I’d remember everything. I now wish that I had taken better notes day to day the first go-round.
  • Find a buddy. Not everyone is going to be as excited about what you’re experiencing as you are, so it’s good to have someone you can share with who will let you express yourself as needed. A virtual buddy (e.g., a journal) is a great option, or you can reach out to the YTU community, or shanghai a friend into taking the lab with you (right, Alex?) 🙂
  • Don’t try to keep up with your everyday life. The lab is intense, and being there brings up many feelings, memories, thoughts, etc. As much as possible, try to leave the mundane tasks aside—pay your bills and do your laundry before you go into the lab—but the pets will still need feeding (if you’re commuting); if you have children and/or a spouse/partner, they will require your attention; and there will inevitably be something that happens to distract you from the task at hand. Do only the necessary outside tasks.
  • Be with the process. If you have a meditation practice, that can be very helpful as a tool to work with this unusual experience. Or you can find whatever outlet is helpful for you. I was lucky enough to commute mostly by ferry to all of the labs I’ve attended so far, so I used that time on the boat to write, to soak up the water and wind and sun, and to be surrounded by the living.

There are, of course, many ways to create a comfortable, positive environment during this time, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I hope that other somanauts from the YTU community and beyond share their favorite strategies and observances, so that those who are curious, yet uncertain, can consider making a choice that I found life-changing and life-affirming—to learn anatomy in the real world from the gentlest of teachers.

Learn more about Gil Hedley and Integral Anatomy Dissections here

Enjoyed this article? Read Creating a Balance(d) Practice
Dawn Adams

Dawn has been practicing yoga since the mid-1990s. She took her first class at the Alameda Yoga Station in 1996 and has since studied under experienced teachers such as Sandy Blaine, JoAnn Lyons, and Donald Moyer. Dawn graduated from the Advanced Studies Program at the Yoga Room in Berkeley in 2009 and she continues to deepen her personal practice. Yoga has become an integral part of her life, especially because of its nurturing and centering aspects. Through practicing yoga, she has found that undoing is just as important as doing. In her teaching, she hopes to instill a sense of adventure and exploration of yoga, with a focus on finding balance and joy through practice. Most recently, Dawn found Yoga Tune Up and, fascinated by the functional approach to movement, completed the YTU Level 1 Certification. She is excited to share her unique approach to practice.

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Freia Ramsey

I really appreciate the advice to be with the process and to anticipate that you will need extra time for that. I really wish I had planned for more processing and down time during my Yoga Tune Up training instead of going home each day after class and trying to keep up with my daily life. When I take my next training, whatever it may be, I will schedule that extra time in.


I followed from your first post about Gil Hedley’s cadaver lab. Your recommendations are noted and have wonderful carry-over to other trainings. I truly hope to one day experience this too.


After reading your first post on this- I was feeling more courageous about visiting the cadaver lab.
But now I also feel prepared!- Thank you.

Evelyne Linder

Thanks Dawn for sharing these practical recommendations on how to make the best out of it!

Trevor Gribble

We watched the fuzz speech today in Day 4 of our YTU training. I’d seen it 6 years ago myself and it made a major impact on my teaching and general philosophy to practice. I’d never really thought about getting all up in a body, and there was a fair amount of discussion on just how powerful the experience is. I still don’t know if I’ll make that leap in the future but thank you for sharing this article on your tips for making it more comfortable.

Kamilla Vaksman

Thank you! That is very helpful. I’m one step closer to taking the intensive.

Ariane Fournier

Merci pour cet article! Super intéressant de lire a propos de votre expérience et vos conseils me seront certainement utiles lors de ma pratique ???

Évelyne Paquin

Merci pour le partage de votre expérience. En étant bien préparer pour des observations en laboratoire on améliore l’expérience. Ça me pousse à réfléchir à cette option dans mon apprentissage de l’anatomie, sachant ces trucs que vous nous avez partagés je saurai mieux orienté dans mon choix.

Donna Burch

Thank you Dawn. Wow. The level of commitment to learning to attend an anatomy lab like you describe
is admirable. I intend to do so at some point. My list of things to read, study and practice just keeps growing as we go through this Level 1 journey. Thank you for the love your pour into your teaching!