Yoga + healing
“In yoga you focus your attention on your breathing and on your sensations moment to moment. You begin to notice the connection between your emotions and your body. You begin to experiment with changing the way you feel. Simply noticing what you feel fosters emotional regulation, and it helps you to stop trying to ignore what is going on inside of you.”
–Bessel Van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score
Yoga means union and it ultimately is the union between physical movement, relaxation, and breathing. One innovative yoga teacher, Vanda Scaravelli, describes “yoga as a way of life. It changes you and therefore changes the way you relate to other people and influence your environment.” I have been a student of yoga since college where I found that it was a grounding and calming practice in the midst of a chaotic four years at a large and often overwhelming university.
Teaching yoga to survivors of trauma as well as though who struggle with depression and/or anxiety has long been a dream of mine. When I began to read the overwhelming research supporting how helpful yoga can be as an adjunct to therapy, etc. , I knew I needed to find a way to offer this type of healing. My own yoga practice has allowed me to find a sense of calm and peace and I hope to offer that to others as I meet as well. My class, aptly titled Yoga for Healing, is described below as well as information about where I am currently teaching.
Mission Healing survivors of trauma through the practice of yoga; to encourage and empower survivors to find strength and healing.
Method Create an opportunity for survivors to experience yoga in a safe and closed classroom where they can begin to connect with their body in a safe and meaningful way.
Crisis Management Should a participant become dis-regulated or unsafe, participant will be directed to mobile crisis hotline or walk-in clinic, work to create a safety plan before leaving the classroom, or contact participant’s primary therapist for support.
Boundaries While I am a licensed counselor, I am not the participant’s therapist and will be clear about the boundaries around disclosure and treatment concerns that the participant may experience. If necessary, I am willing to speak with the participant’s therapist if a release is granted.
Investment Cost per class is $15 at Breezeway Yoga Studio (Class card is $120 for ten classes which reduces the cost per class to $12); cost for students for closed series is TBD
Liability Liability forms will be signed during the first session. I am insured as a yoga teacher through BeYogi, registered as a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance, and insured as a LPC-MHSP through HPSO.
Some potential benefits of trauma informed yoga include:
utilizes invitational language as well as choices about how the participant wishes to move their body
respects the physical space of participants by not offering hands on assists
encourages participants to begin to notice how things change and flow inside their body
works to increase self acceptance
can assist in calming an overactive nervous system through activating the parasympathetic nervous system
can help with grounding and orienting to the present
provide skills for emotional regulation
empower participants to reinhabit the body and befriend it again
I teach a trauma informed yoga class, Yoga for Healing, at Breezeway Yoga Studio at 4830 Kingston Pike in Knoxville. I teach every Monday from 1:30-2:45. It is a private and quiet space that I hope participants will find comfortable. Visit breezewayyoga.com for more information about location and information about the studio. If you are interested in joining this class, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure this class would be a positive step in your healing journey. Please read on further for more details about my class.
I will also be offering an eight week closed series for University of TN women who are survivors of sexual assault. This will begin October 8th at 3:45pm. Details to come regarding location and cost. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in learning more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you ready to begin a trauma informed yoga class? First, speak with your primary provider (PCP, therapist, or medication provider) about beginning a yoga class. If you are feel you are ready, please know that despite the hard work I will do to avoid triggering language or touch, you may find that there are things that will still be triggering during a class. Furthermore, it is important to assess if you are physically ready to engage in this type of movement. Some questions you might ask yourself before signing up for a class would be: Have you done anything physical in awhile? How comfortable are you with your body? Do you anticipate challenges? Do you have a support person to talk to about your experiences, good or bad? Do you believe that you can feel comfortable engaging with me in a yoga class? Feel free to reach out and talk to me about any concerns you may have.
How can yoga good for me? What are the goals of each class? Practicing yoga in a safe space led by a trained and trauma informed yoga teacher can be beneficial to healing. First, yoga can allow you to have choices about your body and how it moves. Next, it can increase how you understand and sense your body both internally and externally. Furthermore, it can allow you to notice the present moment and how it is different from the past. Finally, it can assist you in gaining some mastery over regulating emotions.
Why is your yoga class different from the one offered at my local studio? The yoga that I teach offers invitational language that allows you to make a choice about whether or not you want to engage in or complete a pose or activity. I will never tell you what to do or imply that you must do something or be a certain way in my class. I always want you to consent to what you do with your body. My class will always be based on poses that can increase your awareness of your body and your internal sensations as well as help decrease anxiety and depression.
What do I wear? What do I need? Wear what you are comfortable in, however, it is recommend that you wear clothing that is not too loose. You may bring your own mat but there will be some to borrow. Feel free to bring a blanket that increases a sense of safety, a water bottle, and anything else that may increase your sense of safety.
What will I learn? While there will not be a weekly “lesson,” I will include a theme for each class that focuses on the chakra system and how it relates to our body and mind. I will be talking to you about the different poses I instruct, basic safety and alignment in a pose, and ask you to feel what you are experiencing during the poses. I will also be giving you some basic information each week on poses you can complete at home.
What happens if I experience a crisis during or after the class? We have many resources available to us such as mobile crisis, mobile crisis walk-in clinic, and hotlines. I will never allow you to walk out of class if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideations. Furthermore, I will ensure that you have a plan should you need more support once you are home. I am open to connecting with your therapist should you feel that it would be a helpful conversation.
What are some books I could read to help me understand what has happened to me as well as how yoga can help my healing?
· David Emerson’s Overcoming Trauma Through Yogais a helpful read that has a special section for survivors.
· Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score is another read that discusses how your body may be changed after experiencing a traumatic event(s).
When the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect waivers not
- then, say the wise, one has reached the highest stage.
This steady control of the senses and the mind is defined as Yoga.
- Katha Upanishad, 1500 - 1000 BCE