About halfway through my YTT, I hit a wall in my personal and professional life. For the first time in my life, I experienced crippling anxiety – a result of years of unresolved trauma and stress. I felt like I had come undone, and the only thing I knew that could help me rebalance was yoga. That’s when I found Exhale to Inhale, a non-profit organization that brings yoga to survivors of domestic violence, through weekly classes at domestic violence shelters and community centers throughout NYC, the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and Los Angeles. This organization, its founder Zoe, and the inspiring women who work daily to spread yoga and love through Exhale to Inhale, are incredible.
In January of 2017, along with the Exhale to Inhale team, I attended a three-day Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher Training, led by Hala Khouri at ISHTA Yoga. During the course, we learned the basic symptoms of trauma, the stress response and the nervous system, somatic therapy tools for resourcing and discharge, yoga postures, breathing techniques, and mediations that support greater self-regulation, as well as trauma and the mind-body connection.
In addition, we learned strategies and tools for effectively teaching yoga to trauma survivors, including appropriate cuing and language use, as well as grounding and meditation/visualization techniques. For example, when teaching to a class of survivors, hands-on adjustments are discouraged, and appropriate invitational language is used (i.e., “I invite you to…”, “When you are ready…, ” “Consider…”). The ultimate goal of the Trauma Informed Training, as well as the work that Exhale to Inhale does, is to create a safe space for trauma survivors to reconnect with their body and mind.
Hala’s training was magical and life-changing. Now that I have completed my 200-hour RYT training, I teach weekly classes to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault who are living in shelters throughout NYC. In addition, I will be attending their upcoming Trauma-Informed Teacher Training in January of 2018.
The work that Exhale to Inhale does is so, so important. And the yoga techniques and concepts can easily be incorporated into anyone’s own practice, whether at home or at a studio – and regardless of whether you are a teacher or a practitioner.