Once upon a time, I went to a cadaver lab. I never imagined I would go to a cadaver lab when I became a yoga teacher!

This blog was inspired by a  yoga podcast with guest Ann Votaw. Ann discussed her tour of a cadaver lab at NYU. Her interest was piqued when she became ill, and the possibility of death hit close to home. She decided to attend a cadaver memorial, where families meet the doctors who are learning with these forms. It’s a powerful and beautiful reminder that bodies can be honored in the present moment and beyond.

The amazing human form

The amazing human form

In my first training, which was VERY solid in the land of mass-marketed teacher training programs, we learned anatomy. We had our 12 required hours, and I memorized the bones that I needed to memorize for the anatomy portion of the final exam. Anatomy is such a minimal portion of trainings which makes me really sad because we deal with bodies. And then there’s biomechanics – which is not even discussed in most trainings. I’m lucky enough to have studied with teachers who are bringing this information to teachers. I’m grateful for any and all that I can learn about the body as it helps me show up for whoever shows up in my classroom.

But once upon a time, I got to attend a one-day cadaver lab at a local college here in Los Angeles. I was so nervous to go. I am not a super woo-woo teacher, but at that time, I was definitely more chakras and Chodron than Latin and lats. I was nervous about seeing the bodies, let alone touching the bodies.

I was told to wear layers, lots of layers, because it’s very cold in the lab. I was told to wear clothes, including shoes that would most likely be thrown in the garbage, once we got home, of course 😉 I was told to get gloves. I was warned about the formaldehyde smell. I was told to bring a lunch…an interesting roam around Trader Joe’s, wondering what kind of lunch I might be able to eat or if I’d be tossing my lunch.10

This tale is continued on Friday! Check back then.

Enjoyed this article? Read Anatomy in the Real World

Terry Littlefield

Terry Littlefield, RYT-500, Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher, and long-time practitioner, is a passionate educator with a big sense of humor and an even bigger heart. Her classes are a blend of science and spirit, breath work and ball work (Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, of course), movement and meditation. If you want to have fun and experience safe, functional movement within your yoga practice, she’s your yogi.

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Cadaver Lab…not something I wanted to read about which is exactly why I read this. Thank you for sharing your experience. I would like to read what happens next!


I am both please and relieved to know that there are Cadaver Memorials. Thanks for sharing your experience!


What an amazing opportunity! I am a visual person, so a cadaver lab would definitely help me to put all of the pieces together. I find some of the anatomy stuff a bit abstract, so to see the actual muscle, tendons and how everything works together must have been an incredible experience.


Omgosh, you got me… looking for the next blog. My first TT was great, but anatomy was scarce. It is nice to delve deeper into this knowledge.

stephanie blazi

Thank you for sharing your experience. I can’t wait to get to a cadaver lab!


Interesting! Thank you for sharing! Hope to have my first experience soon!

Sarah Pluscarr

Thank you for sharing! This is great inspiration to really learn my bones & muscles so I can better teach the people and their bodies that come to my classes. It also makes me appreciate that yoga tune-up training we received on biomechanics in my TT course. Much thanks and appreciation to the people who volunteered their bodies to science for this kind of training!!