Monday, December 14, 2015

Teaching yoga to survivors of sexual violence

In December 2013 I started to teach yoga to Latino teen survivors of sexual assault.  The experience has been rich, humbling and challenging. 

What has worked?

  • Be consistent and developing a simple sequence that is predictable and nurtures their feelings of confidence and success.  
  • Avoid trigger poses (one example would be Happy Baby) and  having their backs facing other students. 
  • Avoid props like straps that could be triggering as well.  
  • Use invitational language and invite to try a pose, giving many variations.  Survivors were put in a terrible situation which they didn't chose, and so the yoga experience should be the polar opposite - they are empowered to chose time and again.  
  • Focusing on the breath and simple mediation where they can focus on the present moment.  
  • Follow a no touch policy, which is required by the agency where I volunteer.  I think it is a wise policy to protect students from being triggered and teachers from any possible liability.  By not offering physical adjustments, you get to be a better teacher by offering clear verbal directions and demonstrating the pose.   
  • Affirming them throughout the class with positive language.  
  • I also brought in essential oils for students to use, and they were very popular, even with the teenage male student.   

Friday, December 11, 2015

"There is a wisdom in our bodies."

I cherish the On Being podcasts, and here is a program that shines the light on the passing down of trauma through the generations, i.e. legacy or historical trauma.  Neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda has researched this vast subject from the lens of the Jewish experience, as well as survivors of 9/11 and other traumas.

The concept of post-traumatic stress growth or taking the suffering and converting into something positive.  She calls the "podium of suffering."  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holidays and restorative yoga resource

As the holiday season descends upon us, the pace of activity and stress also accelerates for me.  My yoga and meditation practices helps ground me.  One of my favorite yoga resources, Yoga International, is offering a free 12 day restorative yoga practice challenge delivered to your in box.  Yes, free.  I just signed up and encourage you to take the challenge.

Let's see what 12 days of restorative yoga can do to make our holiday season even brighter and lighter.... 

Let's replace more presents with more presence - the very best gift you could offer. 

What I'm reading

I just finished listening to a fascinating audiobook "The Evil Hours: a biography of PTSD" by Daniel Morris (free thanks to the library via the Hoopla app).

As an Iraq war vet, the author takes the reader on a personal tour of his experience and the wider context/history of this disease.  There is a chapter on yoga and also on the sexual violence survivor experience that I found both harrowing and hopeful.