The practice of trauma-informed yoga has increased benefits of traditional yoga practices maintaining physical and mental health benefits to improve and maintain overall health, but it also addresses the unique needs of trauma survivors.
In the past, Empower Yolo offered traditional yoga classes to clients, but classes were canceled due to the pandemic. Empower Yolo is now excited to offer clients trauma-informed yoga through its Empower Yoga program.
“This yoga series will be different from most yoga classes you may be familiar with because it is trauma-informed,” says Jess Lucia Empower Yolo SART advocate and yoga instructor. Trauma-informed yoga is an alternative healing practice for people who have experienced trauma. It is a combination of alternative choices, wording, and poses that facilitates healing and autonomy. “As we know, trauma and the brain are very complex. This yoga series will allow room for our survivors to connect their feelings with their body and their mind and allow something I like to call, embodiment, to happen. Embodiment is the practice of feeling safe in our bodies and feeling grounded. Understanding what we need to be safe in our bodies and connect with ourselves is a huge part in anyone’s healing from trauma,” says Lucia.
Every two weeks there will be a different theme and idea that will be focused on. The weeks are as follows: Weeks 1&2: Stabilize- these weeks we will be focusing on what we need to feel safe in our own bodies during yoga as well as outside of yoga. Weeks 3&4: Metabolize- focus will be on our mind-body connection. We will explore in our yoga practice and life, where do we need support? How can we support ourselves and our healing? Weeks 5&6: Visualize- we will be focusing on seeing our future selves and what that looks like regarding our healing and being safe in our bodies; (there may even be room for visualizing our inner child and what we can tell them with the wisdom and knowledge we know now). Weeks 7&8: Alchemize- lastly, we will be focusing on turning what happened to us into wisdom and self-care to continue to support our healing and our worth. At the beginning of every session, the class does a meditation based on the theme of the day.
Yoga will be held once a week for eight weeks in a closed group to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or human trafficking. Each session will be about 60 minutes and will be held at our Woodland location. The group currently has five survivors and because it is a small group, it allows for one-on-one and group support.
“Trauma-informed yoga practice can be helpful for clients who have felt ‘out of their body’ since an assault. This yoga practice is beneficial to survivors in helping them gain their power back, feel more in their bodies, and it aids in their autonomy and choosing what to do and what not to do based on their needs and wants. The goal for this series is to provide a safe space to be who they are and to heal from things that were done to them,” Lucia says.
Part of what makes this yoga series unique is the amount of special training a trauma-informed yoga instructor goes through to be prepared to lead classes. Lucia took a 200-hour trauma-informed yoga instructor training course last year with School Yoga Institute. School Yoga Institute is a registered Yoga Alliance school. They have a variety of yoga instructor courses available, most are in-person, but some are virtual or hybrid.
Keri Nelson Pennell from School Yoga Institute stated, “School Yoga institute has been so honored to partner with Empower Yolo in supplying yoga props for their incredible work in the yoga community! Through this partnership, we have been able to provide ease and access to the major healing benefits of yoga for all survivors.” If you are interested in their courses, visit their website at schoolyogainstitute.com.
Empower Yoga is currently open only to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Participants do not have to be current clients to join, but they will be asked to fill out an Empower Yolo and yoga intake form. If you would like more information on days, times, and how to sign-up feel free to call our front desk at 530-661-6336.
The community can help support this program by spreading the word to all survivors. Financial donations can be made any time at empoweryolo.org and are always welcome to provide journals, self-care items, positive affirmation cards, and other yoga items to help promote healing for survivors.