This March 2020, I will be celebrating 13 years as a certified yoga instructor. Teaching yoga and belly dance was my very first career.
I had been practicing yoga since I was 13 and every year that passed solidified my passion for the healing powers of this art form. I knew that yoga had done so much for me in my life and I was on fire to spread its restorative practices with my local community and the world.
As time continued on with my yogic studies, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease that threatened to derail my life forever. Physicians told me I would never have a full and productive life. Instead, yoga and holistic medicine gave me the strength to continue to grow and evolve in my career.
I got married the same year I became an instructor, a decision that sadly ended in an abusive situation that I had to flee. I then decided to go back to school and work as a teacher for at-promise (vs. at-risk) youth and blend my yoga with my personal story, and classroom experiences in working with victims of violence and trauma.
In graduate school, I studied trauma in-depth, exploring how physical, emotion and sexual violence change us on a molecular level. I worked in victim advocacy and designed major violence prevention programs for universities and government agencies, all the while continuing to make yoga classes part of every role I had at these institutions.
For me, there could not be prevention or healing without yoga, and I longed to find every new and evolving way to bridge my two vocations.
Why Trauma-Informed Yoga?
Trauma-Informed yoga became my heart and my home. I know as a trauma expert that everyone is a potential survivor of some kind of trauma: historical, communal, physical, emotional, medical, sexual, secondary, etc.
I also know that yoga and movement are some of the most powerful ways to heal from this trauma.
Seeing that the large majority of us have experienced at least one kind of trauma at some point in our lives, the question becomes no who needs this, but how do we incorporate this into every style and practice?
In psychology, there is a field of trauma research and therapeutics called Somatic healing. Soma being the Greek word for body, this therapy looks to heal from within our physical self, exploring the ways that the body holds trauma and looking for ways to release that which goes beyond thought or words.
Somatic healing is a perfect partner to general hatha yoga. It allows us to use a deeper understanding of the mind and cellular memory to create yoga practices that free us from the binds of trauma.
How We Can Incorporate it Into All Styles
Even in yoga that is not specifically focused on healing trauma we still see the vital nature of having trauma-informed principles infused into every aspect of any yoga practice.
In recent years, as the country moves into a deeper awareness of sexual violence and trauma, #metooyoga has brought to light the darker side of our beloved practice. Power-hungry leaders have weaponized yoga, using it as a tool to manipulate and control followers.
Trauma-informed yoga offers the tools needed to heal these wounds in our communities by reminding us how our words, actions, and intent can either hurt or aid in healing ourselves and each other.
I am honored to now offer certification in trauma-informed yoga throughout the country. Bringing these skills and healing modalities to not only studios and instructors but the therapists, advocates, and educators.
Together we can create a trauma-informed world where yoga is reclaimed for survivors and a new understanding or how trauma, breath, and movement can create spaces of holistic transformation.