Allison Tomotsugu Ardha Matsyendrasana

Why Yoga Works – The Neurophysiology of Practice with Allison Tomotsugu

Episode 3

A Conversation with Allison Tomotsugu

We all experience yoga in ways that are unique to our individual nature, while at the same time we are all human common physiological conditions, such as brains, hearts, muscles, bones and other tissues, organs and systems. We also all live on planet Earth, even as our living conditions vary. Our unique experiences thus occur through and within a shared universe and environment. And as unique as our experience are in yoga, including how we feel doing it, there's much to discover about why yoga seems to "work" – to result in feeling better, getting clearer, having a better life. 

Tune in here for a conversation that asks about why yoga works and takes you on a tour through yoga practices, human physiology (including "vagal toning"), and living fully in the modern world.

Episode Highlights: 

  • Different styles of yoga, primarily Ashtanga Vinyasa and  Budokon 
  • Svadhyaya and self-inquiry 
  • Safe sequencing, modifications and props
  • Set sequences and creativity 
  • The nervous system and the vagus nerve 
  • Living a full and balanced life as a mom and in the modern world  


After dabbling in classes at the local studios for a few years, Allison became a lifetime student of yoga in 2000. She connected to the Astanga practice early on and still draws inspiration from her years of early morning practices in a shala. More recently she is inspired by her work in Budokon and functional movement to find a balanced practice that nurtures her life's newest phase, a mom of twin boys.

Since 2000 Yoga has been a consistent thread in her personal and professional life – she is a medical doctor by training – and it is here where she pulls her greatest insights for her teachings. In her unique approach Allison navigates the sometimes mystical parts of Yoga with clarity and perspective. She believes that yoga, in its many forms, has the ability to rewire the way we think, feel and act in the world if we choose to maintain a dedicated and consistent practice.

Allison is based on the outskirts of Ottawa, Canada. She runs her own online studio where she offers live classes, on demand videos, and hosts YTTs and continuing education programs for yoga teachers.




  • Yoga Sutra of Patanjali
  • Stephen W. Porgas, The Polyvagal Theory
  • Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness, The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence
  • Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
  • Terrence W. Deason, Incomplete Nature: How the Mind Emerged from Matter
  • G. William Domhoff, The Emergence of Dreaming: Mind-Wandering, Embodied Simulation, and the Default Network
  • David Foulkes & G. William Domhoff, "Bottom-up or Top-down in Dream Neuroscience? A Top-down Critique of Two Bottom-up Studies." Consciousness and Cognition (2014)
  • George Lakoff & Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought
  • Patricia S. Churchland, Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain