Yoga in schools, staff rooms, and community health centres

2021-02-10T20:37:10+00:00

Karen George was at a loss about how to help her client, a woman so severely depressed that she was unable to leave her house other than a weekly appointment with George in Skidegate in Haida Gwaii, BC.    “She was so guarded, her hands clenched at the arms of the couch, like she was ready to run," says the Family Art Therapist. "It was really hard to figure out what to do.”  George had tried a lot of approaches, from somatic experiencing therapy to art therapy, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, George decided to try a course on trauma-informed yoga [...]

Yoga in schools, staff rooms, and community health centres2021-02-10T20:37:10+00:00

How I spend my yoga privilege

2021-09-14T17:04:42+00:00

Depression and anxiety are frequent visitors for me. The trick is to wait them out, not battle them directly. Instead I meditate daily and practice yoga asana - either through my gym membership ($35/month) or online (internet access $80/month). In my yoga teacher training (approximately $3500), I learned to meditate. Practicing regularly reminds me that I’m not my thoughts, especially not the ones that say, “You suck. You’re a horrible person.” This is only depression talking.  Yoga asana reminds me that I am patient and strong enough to wait out this enemy. Physical practice connects my mind to my body and [...]

How I spend my yoga privilege2021-09-14T17:04:42+00:00

Relationship is priority in trauma-informed yoga

2020-05-11T12:03:23+00:00

Nicole Marcia’s self-esteem tanked after she was assaulted by a neighbour more than two decades ago. She shut up the negative voices in her head with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. In her early 20s at the time, she didn’t connect her behaviour with the assault. Essentially, she just thought she sucked.  One day she heard a celebrity talking about yoga on TV, and thought, ‘Huh! I should try that.” A few classes turned into a regular yoga practice, and after a while her mood started to lift as well. But it wasn’t her mastery of  backbends, or attaining Madonna's yoga body. [...]

Relationship is priority in trauma-informed yoga2020-05-11T12:03:23+00:00

Yoga at home for depression and anxiety

2020-04-13T09:30:39+00:00

“Isolation makes any problem bigger,” says Leslie Wilkin, a clinical social worker. Normally, Leslie Wilkin sees her clients at Island Health in Nanaimo face-to-face for depression, anxiety, addictions, and other mental health challenges. Due to Covid-19, in-person therapy has ceased, and her clients have less access to personal supports because of social distancing. Wilkin worries that this disruption to routine could make existing conditions worse. “We look to the people in our network for cues of safety and reassurance. If you can’t get a hold of your counsellor, you can’t go to your group, you’re not meeting friends, and all you’re [...]

Yoga at home for depression and anxiety2020-04-13T09:30:39+00:00

How trauma-informed yoga empowers cancer patients

2020-03-09T11:54:30+00:00

When we think of trauma, we often imagine an assault from the outside. But when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, the attacker is on the inside. People often report feeling betrayed by their own bodies.  That sentiment is common to students in Bobbie-Raechelle Ross’s Yoga Nidra class at InspireHealth in Victoria and Vancouver. Attendees come to the centre for physical and emotional support with cancer care beyond medical treatments. “They don’t feel safe because their body is too unpredictable. Instead of focusing on their capabilities, their view of their body becomes negative,” says Ross, a yoga [...]

How trauma-informed yoga empowers cancer patients2020-03-09T11:54:30+00:00

Why hands-on assists aren’t right for trauma-informed yoga

2020-02-10T12:14:06+00:00

Touch can be relational, connecting, healing, and necessary for well-being. But Yoga Outreach (YO) classes are touch-free zones for several important reasons.  First, no-touch zones make classes feel safer for some survivors of trauma.  Not all of YO’s students are trauma survivors. But a high proportion of people in prisons, addiction recovery centres, and domestic violence Transition Houses where YO offers programs do come from abusive backgrounds. Common adjustments such as guiding hips backward in Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), or turning shoulders to face forward in Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1) can trigger frightening memories. “Having someone in a position of [...]

Why hands-on assists aren’t right for trauma-informed yoga2020-02-10T12:14:06+00:00

Why use invitational language in trauma-informed yoga?

2020-01-13T11:41:18+00:00

  Directly commanding someone to move their body in a certain way can trigger a defensive response, particularly for survivors of trauma. By swapping “invitational language” for a more direct style of instruction, teachers may help students to recover feelings of autonomy, self-esteem, and even joy in their bodies.  “Invitational language creates an opportunity to experiment in their body and to build awareness of sensations on their terms. It’s a skill I would argue is more useful in daily life than nailing a perfect form according to one particular yoga lineage or another,” says Sarah Holmes de Castro.  Holmes de Castro [...]

Why use invitational language in trauma-informed yoga?2020-01-13T11:41:18+00:00

Lessons in Conference Planning – After Boundaries and Bridges 2019

2019-06-10T20:01:05+00:00

The Inspiration - why host a conference about bad stuff? On May 25, Yoga Outreach hosted its first ever conference: Exploring Boundaries, Building Bridges: Connecting Yoga, community, and self. We started by booking Matthew Remski, who had recently published a book about the aftermath of sexual abuse revelations in a well-known yoga community. While planning this author visit, we realized that there was even more to talk about. In the case of Pattabhi Jois, victims were fearful of coming forward against this popular important leader, and communities around the world reacted with complete denial, vicious anger, or suggestions that victims simply [...]

Lessons in Conference Planning – After Boundaries and Bridges 20192019-06-10T20:01:05+00:00

Do grouchy, judgemental smokers belong at yoga? Yes!

2019-03-11T18:49:16+00:00

Q and A with Julie Peters In preparation for Yoga Outreach's first conference (May 25), we asked the scheduled panelists what turns people OFF about yoga. Here's a thoughtful response from Julie Peters, yoga teacher, writer, and owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in East Vancouver. YO: Can you smoke, drink, or eat McDonald’s, and still claim to practise yoga? JP: Food and substances aren’t good or evil; the important thing to consider is why we are consuming them. Lately, I’ve been working a lot with the differences between desire and craving, pleasure and distraction. True desires move us [...]

Do grouchy, judgemental smokers belong at yoga? Yes!2019-03-11T18:49:16+00:00

Can yoga help teens with trauma beat addictions and stay out of jail?

2019-02-07T10:07:40+00:00

Imagine lacking the ability to self-regulate in a place where you are denied a privilege every time you break a rule. And your usual coping methods - drugs or alcohol - are gone, cold turkey. This is the story for many teens with substance issues when they are incarcerated. Why? Trauma. When kids grow up with abuse, significant poverty, neglect, violence or other dangers, coping strategies are limited to survival mode. This means they’re at a severe disadvantage when trying to overcome addictions or avoid conflict with the law. Yoga Outreach conducted a review of trauma studies and found that three [...]

Can yoga help teens with trauma beat addictions and stay out of jail?2019-02-07T10:07:40+00:00

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