Kelly McGonigal, PhD is a leading expert on the mind-body relationship and the psychology of yoga. She teaches yoga, meditation, and psychology at Stanford University, and is a passionate editor and freelance writer in the areas of mind-body psychology and integrative healthcare. Her writing has been featured in Yoga Journal, Yogi Times, L.A. Yoga, Yoga Chicago, Yoga for Everybody, IDEA Fitness Journal, Psychology Today online, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine. She has been featured as a mind-body expert for over 50 publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, O! The Oprah Magazine, Body + Soul, Fitness, Women’s Health, Natural Health, Martha Stewart Weddings, Readers Digest, Runner’s World, and MSNBC.com. She has presented at many national mind-body conferences, including the Body Mind Spirit Conference, the Inner Idea Wellness Conference, the Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research, the International Yoga Therapy Conference, Omega’s Being Yoga Conference, and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Her book Yoga for Pain Relief(New Harbinger 2009) translates recent advances in the neuroscience of stress and pain into yoga practices for people with chronic pain.
Dr. McGonigal is the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal for yoga professionals and healthcare providers published by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). Through her work with IAYT, she supports research and education on mind-body practices and holistic healthcare. She also leads yoga teacher trainings and continuing education for healthcare professionals that take a unique and integrative approach to yoga philosophy, anatomy, physiology, and psychology. She has taught the psychology, philosophy, and practices of yoga in studios and at conferences around the U.S., and her online yoga philosophy courses through Open Mind Open Body have reached students around the world.
She teaches wellness classes for the Stanford School of Medicine’s Health Improvement Program and is a psychology lecturer for the Continuing Studies Program and a frequent guest lecturer on the topics of health psychology, stress reduction, meditation, and yoga for courses and programs as diverse as the School of Engineering, the Department of Recreation and Athletics, and Vaden Counseling Services. She has received a number of teaching awards, including Stanford University’s highest teaching honor, the Walter J. Gores award.
She is dedicated to bridging her professional life and personal values, including her commitment to healthy communities, human rights, and animal welfare. For this reason, she established the Network of Compassion and Support, a way for her students and clients to contribute to such organizations as the Red Cross, Kiva Loans that Change Lives, the SEVA Foundation, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and Living Compassion. She also serves on the board of Yoga Bear, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing cancer patients and survivors with more opportunities for wellness and healing through the practice of yoga, and is an advisor to the Art of Yoga Project, which brings yoga and art to juvenile detention facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a founding member of the Yoga Service Council, which was founded in May, 2009 at the 1st Annual Summit of Yoga, Mindfulness, and Service at the Omega Institute to promote best practices in the field of Yoga Service, and to support individuals and organizations to serve and empower their communities through yoga.
She received her PhD in psychology from Stanford University, with a concentration in humanistic medicine, the study of how emotions, spirituality, and the caregiver-patient relationship influence healing. Her research in the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory focused on how emotions influence the body and how people cope with difficult life transitions. While a graduate student at Stanford, she co-founded the Stanford Women’s Wellness Network, which organized educational and social events designed to serve all aspects of wellness, from nutrition to stress reduction. She also coordinated the Stanford Aerobics and Yoga Program, which offers exercise and wellness classes to the Stanford community. Her role in both organizations launched her ongoing mission of making wellness part of the fabric of Stanford's community, accessible to everyone and a source of social connection as well as personal healing.
She received a B.S. in Communication and a B.A. in Psychology from Boston University. While studying at B.U., she worked as the health editor of an online news service and a freelancer writer on the topics of psychology and alternative medicine, and was active in a wide range of fundraising for non-profit organizations. She received the "Distinguished Graduate Award" from Boston University's College of Communication for demonstrating the ideal of having "not just a brain, but a heart, and using both." She has received a number of other awards and honors, including the prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship for her research on emotions and stress.
Listen to a 30-minute interview with Kelly McGonigal from the podcast Yoga Peeps.