A few days ago, I share how yoga can be a tool to use for healing, whether for trauma or other mental health concerns. I wanted to talk about it a little more in depth, so today I have a Q&A with Julie Eagan from Yoga for Healing! She teaches at Empowered Spaces in St. Louis, MO on Thursdays at 5pm. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a class or if you have any additional questions.
What led you to teaching trauma-informed yoga?
While working as a crisis advocate on a crisis hotline for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, I realized that there was a large overlap between skills that were supportive to crisis callers experiencing dysregulated emotions and skills I had learned in my personal yoga and meditation practice, which has always been a healing outlet for me. I was already considering getting my 200 hour yoga teacher training at the time and after researching trauma-sensitive yoga I knew it was something I wanted to offer.
What are the benefits of trauma-informed yoga vs regular yoga?
Any yoga class can be a trauma-informed yoga class. The difference is in how the class is led. In a trauma-informed class, invitational language and integration of choice are used to empower participants to discover and be mindful of their individual needs. Trauma-informed yoga teachers can support students through triggers as they come up. Sensitivity to possible triggers is included in everything from how the space is set up to the postures and breath work used in class. Safety and accessibility for all communities and ability levels is made a priority. I do not use any physical assists in my class. The teacher's job is to facilitate a supportive space where you, the student, have power and control over your own body and feel safe exploring what is right for you in each moment.
Is trauma-informed yoga right for me?
If you feel unsure about trying a yoga class, I would recommend reaching out to the teacher or studio you are thinking of trying. They will be able to tell you what to expect from the class and answer any questions you have so that you can make the best decision for yourself. If you are seeing a mental health professional, you may want to talk with them about trying yoga and anything that might come up for you in a class.
What can I expect during a session?
Classes are an hour long and centered around a theme. At the beginning of class we will go through grounding exercises and/or breath work, followed by moving through yoga asanas (poses), and end with meditation. Sometimes short activities will be included, depending on the class theme. No matter what we do in class, participants are encouraged to tailor the practice to their specific needs. Many options are given and the choice to opt out of any activities that don't feel supportive is welcomed.
What are your goals for trauma-informed yoga in St. Louis?
I think being trauma-informed is becoming common in yoga. I would love it if trauma-informed wasn't thought of as a separate practice. The statistics of having experienced a traumatic event in one's life are so high that if you are in a yoga class, you are most likely in a yoga class with one or more trauma survivors and that should be recognized and honored.