University of California San Francisco | About UCSF | UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
Search Site | Find a Doctor

Yoga Classes

Yoga has been used for more than 3,000 years to help maintain and restore health. Most people associate yoga with exercise and most yoga classes focus entirely on physical movement. But yoga is in many ways opposite of exercise, and some of the non-movement-oriented practices of yoga can have a profound effect on the physical body.

The postures (asanas) and breathing practices (pranayama) together constitute hatha yoga.

In the Sanskrit language of ancient India, "ha" means "sun" and "tha" means "moon." The two together, "ha-tha" indicate the balance of opposites (night and day, yin and yang).

Asana focuses at its core on flexibility of the spine: forward bends balance backward-bending poses, left twists balance twists to the right. There are even inverted positions to counter-balance gravity.

The goal is to keep the muscles relaxed in movement so that muscle fibers elongate. This results in increasing flexibility and a sense of well-being. The yoga practitioner engages the body in a stretch, extending and elongating into a pose as much as comfortable, not as much as possible. The breath is crucial in this work because it both focuses and calms the mind.

While the spine is integral for physical balance, self-awareness, which is developed through yoga, is integral for emotional balance. The attitude one brings to hatha practices is as important as the practice itself.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine offers specialized yoga classes to meet the different needs of our participants. These include Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients, Therapeutic Yoga for Stress and Medically Related Conditions and Continuing Therapeutic Yoga for Stress and Medically Related Conditions.

All classes are located at the Osher Center and are taught by Rachel Lanzerotti, MSW, RYT500 and Julie Locke, RN, RYT200:
Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
1545 Divisadero St., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115

Yoga Cares - Therapeutic Yoga for Cancer Patients

This class is designed specifically for cancer patients and combines gentle movements, postures, slow deep-breathing, meditation and relaxation.

  • Classes — Tuesdays 1 to 2:30 p.m. and to Thursdays, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
  • Cost — No charge.
  • To Register — Visit the Osher Center or the UCSF Cancer Resource Center to pick up the required doctor referral and yoga history forms, or download them here.

Therapeutic Yoga for Low Back Pain

Therapeutic Yoga Series for Low Back Pain is a 7-week progressive class series for students of all levels and abilities, with instruction in yoga poses, basic anatomy, breathing practices, and deep relaxation to help alleviate chronic low back pain and tension.

This program is based on the two largest, most definitive studies utilizing yoga therapy for the treatment of chronic lower back pain. This is a particularly gentle form of yoga with a strong focus on individual adaptation and breath development. It is extremely accessible for all body types.

There are some conditions, such as serious disc herniation, recent diagnosis of disc compression with radiating/nerve pain, recent back surgery, severe sciatica, and spondylolisthesis for which this program may not be beneficial in a group setting. For consultation regarding individual yoga therapy, please contact the instructor. If you are experiencing lower back pain, please consult with a physician or health care practitioner before beginning this or any other yoga or exercise practice.

  • Classes — 7-week series.
  • Cost — $150. Includes The Essential Low Back Program workbook and 5-practice CD, and other materials. Must be paid in advance by pre-registration.
  • To Registeronline or call (415) 353-7718.