Every move, every breath, every posture requires concentration in yoga.
Likewise, every structure, every property and every possible reaction of carbon-based molecules, the building blocks of all earthly life, calls for deep analysis for the practitioner of organic chemistry.
For Lisa Julian, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, the blending of yoga and the science of life’s molecules is seamless.
Not long after completing her post-doctoral research in organic chemistry, Julian began her professional career in the pharmaceutical industry.
“I used to sit in meetings with these big-wig executives,” Julian said. “At one meeting they were discussing the release of a new pill to fight obesity. You don’t take a pill for obesity. Pills have a place in society, but I saw firsthand they were being overused. You don’t just eat whatever you want and then just take a pill and expect to be healthy. You have to make lifestyle changes.”
She realized she wanted to pursue a different path. She knew a healthy body required a holistic approach.
A child science prodigy, Julian completed high school early and enrolled at the University of California at Irvine at only 16. By 24 she’d earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Michigan. And at the young age of 33, she’s already a tenure-track professor instructing undergrads in organic chemistry and has created an upper-level class investigating the science of food.
She’s also a certified yoga instructor.
Julian just opened a studio, Elevated Yoga and Holistic Health, on Aug. 1, in Rainbow Court at 310 E. Main St. in Frisco. In addition to teaching Hatha yoga in small groups or one-on-one sessions, she’ll be sharing her vast knowledge of organic chemistry and how the foods we eat react in our bodies.
“I teach traditional Hatha yoga,” Julian said. “But I tend to describe how the breathing exercises take place and how it affects your anatomy.
“Yoga helps guide your awareness. It’s all about body awareness.”
Julian has devoted more than 15 years to laboratory research. Much of that is medical. She’s currently working on a project trying to reverse certain types of blood cancers. Her unique background allows her to combine the ancient techniques of yoga with the knowledge of contemporary science.
In organic chemistry, researches focus on finding the results of reactions. Yoga, similarly, takes into account how the body responds to certain poses and breathing techniques. The same goes for nutrition.
“Knowing the chemistry and how things react inside the body makes it all come together quite naturally,” Julian said.
She still teaches in Denver, but now she spends most of her time teaching yoga in Frisco. She described it as more rewarding to teach in small, intimate groups in the studio rather than the large lecture halls of the university. And she’s still teaching science there, but with a twist.
She’s also offering nutrition workshops. The first will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the studio. For more information on the studio and class times go to www.elevatedyogacolorado.com.