Yoga and Pilates go to medical school

New York doctors Carrie McCullough and Stephanie Pieczenik Marango want to make you healthier by bringing wellness to the people who take care of you—physicians.
Living Anatome
Carrie McCulloch, MD, and Stephanie Marango, MD, on the cover of Anatomical Sciences Education


New York City doctors Carrie McCulloch and Stephanie Pieczenik Marango want to make you healthier by bringing wellness to the people that take care of you—your physicians.

McCulloch, a Pilates instructor (and co-founder of Kinected Pilates), and Marango, a yoga teacher, met in medical school in 2004, where they noticed a disconnect between their coursework and an actual understanding of a living, moving body.

They also saw the toll that the long hours and intense pressure were taking on their classmates. “You wouldn’t go through law school breaking the law every day,” observed Marango. “But it’s acceptable for medical students to be unhealthy. We wanted to give the students an opportunity to be in downward dog, even for two minutes, so that they could just breathe.”

So, they devised a solution. On their own time and without funding, they developed Living AnatoME, testing their ideas on friends and then securing approval from their professor to offer the course at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Living Anatome
"Bones," the Living AnatoME mascot, helps teach the function of the lower trapezius muscle via downward dog

Sixty med students showed for the first class, which was offered in the student lounge on donated mats. “It was really just a labor of love,” says McCulloch.

The classes combine lecture with varied yoga and Pilates exercises. For example, if students are studying upper extremities, the Living AnatoME class will discuss the shoulder joint and then move the participants into a pose that demonstrates flexion of the shoulder.

Living AnatoME has since taken off. And McCulloch and Marango recently published research in Anatomical Sciences Education that showed that students who took the course scored much higher on their understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy. It’s now a required course at Mount Sinai, and the curriculum is available for others to use via

“Just to be introduced to the concept of how you’re able to feel and take care of your body is going to influence your ability to help others to do the same,” says Marango. “For example, Would you take advice from a 300-pound smoking cardiologist who told you to exercise and lose weight?”

Hopefully, in the future, we won’t have to. —Lisa Elaine Held

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