Trauma-Sensitive Yoga – Yoga Outreach Training

by Sarah

This past weekend I was given a great opportunity to participate in Yoga Outreach’s Core Training. Yoga Outreach works to provide yoga services to underserved populations, such as correctional facilities, harm-reduction sites, women’s shelters, at-risk youth programs and others. They offer the skills developed in yoga, such as meditation, responsibility for your own body and breathing, as an alternative option to more dangerous behavior. Yoga for clients who have experience trauma has been proven beneficial in many many studies, and through multiple personal accounts of success stories. (see this article from Yoga Journal) They work through all volunteer teachers, who have all undertaken the core training that I got to experience. I had the added benefit of being able to tweet throughout the whole training. (aka: I brought my phone to yoga…so strange)



This weekend reminded me why I do yoga. To sit on a mat, and remind myself that “right now, right here, I am okay.” And then in the next pose, “right now, right here, I am okay.” The experience of safety and security is something that a lot of the clients from Yoga Outreach lack. To the point that if a client is falling asleep in class, we should celebrate that as a success, because at least we’ve created a space that feels safe enough to sleep in.

I also got a chance to slow things down a bit. WAY down. Sarah, one of the facilitators, lead us through a chair yoga class. Totally different from anything I’ve experience before, but the discussion around it convinced me of the benefit of this type of class for many people.



For me, a takeaway from the weekend is firstly, a change in language. I’m going to try and use language that doesn’t push students farther than their body is ready for. I’ll be working at giving more options so that everyone is feeling strong and capable. Secondly, I’ll try to cultivate more respect for individuals past histories. As we went through talking about Strengths Based Approach, I realized that I was completely neglecting to consider the amazing strengths people facing difficult circumstances have developed or perhaps had all along. From this, it is possible to look at dangerous behaviors as coping strategies that may have been necessary for someone to survive. Finally, I was incredibly inspired by the 17 other participants in the training, and the five different facilitators we met over the weekend. I really hope I can manifest this energy into something amazing and awesome over the next few months. 🙂