Trauma-Informed Yoga at Health for Life Counseling

at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

If you’re seeking a holistic and supportive approach to healing from trauma, Trauma-Informed Yoga at Health for Life Counseling could be the right choice for you.

In order to get started, simply contact Health for Life Counseling to learn more about our Trauma-Informed Yoga program and how it can benefit you.

Trauma-Informed Yoga at Health for Life Counseling
In Grand Rapids, MI and West Michigan At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, MI

Trauma Informed Yoga Teachers at Health for Life Counseling

Greetings! I’m Claire (She/Her). I am a 200hr registered trauma informed yoga teacher through the Mindful School of Yoga. I have also completed a Somatic coach mentorship with Jen of Rising Strong Wellness LLC. I teach at Blandford Nature Center, the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center, and host community classes throughout the summer season at John Ball Park. I also participate as an instructor for the Wild Zen Yoga Festival.

I’ve been a yoga student for 10+ years and enjoy sharing the practice in intuitive ways for all body types, genders, and levels of experience. My approach is inspired by nature, Somatic philosophies, along with nervous system maintenance.

Being a human is hard and I want to offer a space where you can soften and witness the magic that is within you. My passion is to elevate others in their mental health journey so they may find ease within their mind, body, and Spirit. All flows I host are beginner friendly for anybody- as I have participants that range from 8 through 60+ years young. My hope is that you are encouraged to optimize our time together to recover and replenish your energy.

I hope to have the privilege of practicing mindfulness with you soon! In the meantime… May you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you be safe.

Claire

Practical Information

Class Frequency and Timing:

  • Trauma-Informed Yoga classes are held once a week.
  • Wellness Wednesdays: Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. *
  • Duration: 1 Hour
  • Location:
    Holistic Health Collective- Grand Rapids
    741 Kenmoor Ave Suite B
    Grand Rapids, MI 49546

 

  • These sessions are ideal for clients and their loved ones to engage in mindfulness practices.
  • They are a great way to help people integrate sensations that can come to the surface from talk therapy.
  • They help build confidence to maintain personal wellness routines outside of therapy sessions.

*This time is subject to change.
*Availability is also subject to change.

Participation Availability:

  • Each class accommodates a maximum of 8 participants.

Rate:

  • The cost for each session is $20.

Please note that this rate is non-refundable and non-negotiable, in order to ensure commitment and consistency in the healing journey.

Equipment:

Participants are required to bring their own yoga mat and a water bottle. Limited yoga mats are available to borrow, if needed. To reserve a mat to borrow, please call Health For Life at 616-200-4433 ex. 1.

Optional items include a journal, blanket, and/or bolster/pillow for additional comfort and support during the session.

What is Trauma-Informed Yoga?

Trauma can have a lasting impact on both our physical and mental well-being. Sometimes traumatic experiences make our body disconnect from our mind and as a result, we feel detached from our own physical sensations and emotions. Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY) is an approach that focuses on the impact of trauma on the entire mind-body system and doesn’t view specific troubling memories in isolation from the body.

Trauma-Informed Yoga aims to help individuals who have experienced trauma reconnect with their bodies in a safe environment. This holistic approach guides participants toward a greater awareness of their body and sensations.

Trauma-informed counselors guide trauma- survivors to perform mindful movements and controlled breathing exercises. Consequently, they can explore what it feels like to be fully present in their bodies. This approach also helps participants address nervous system dysregulation and dissociation, which is common in individuals who have experienced trauma.

Trauma can have a lasting impact on both one’s physical and mental well-being. As a result, traumatic experiences can make the body disconnect from the mind out of a need for protection, leading to detachment and/or disassociation from one’s own physical sensations and emotions. Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY) is an approach that focuses on the impact of trauma on the entire mind-body system and doesn’t view specific troubling memories in isolation from the body. Just like trauma-informed counselors often guide trauma survivors in performing mindful movements and controlled breathing exercises in sessions, the yoga classes are meant to foster a similar experience. Ultimately, it is an invitation to explore sensations, practice acts of loving kindness, learn bodily cues, along with the introduction to mindfulness tools in accessible ways. The intent is to provide a holistic experience for individuals to reconnect with their bodies and re-establish nervous system regulation within a supportive environment.

How Does It Differ From Traditional Yoga?

It’s no doubt that traditional yoga practice offers a number of benefits, including better physical posture, flexibility, and strength. Conversely, sometimes specific yoga poses might even become helpful for individuals who’ve experienced trauma. However, yoga teachers aren’t usually trained to address your mental health needs and help you process trauma.

Unlike traditional yoga, which aims to guide individuals to become aware of their bodies and achieve mental clarity, the purpose of Trauma-Informed yoga is to create a safe space where people can explore their bodies, listen to their signals, and heal their bodies from traumatic experiences.

TIY instructors are trained to understand the impact of trauma on both the body and mind. The instructors conduct practices in a way that avoids re-triggering trauma responses. Therefore, it’s more focused on the internal experience rather than the external benefits, which still may be supportive to a participant who has experienced trauma.

Benefits of Trauma-Informed Yoga

Even though studies continuously prove the effectiveness of traditional trauma treatments, such as trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), and EMDR Therapy (e.g., Ross, 2021; Watkins et al., 2018), some individuals have more specific needs that include somatic complaints and loss of awareness of their physical bodies in the present moment. In these cases, trauma-informed yoga can be beneficial since this approach integrates the mind and body in the healing process.

Here are some research-based benefits of Trauma-Informed Yoga:

1.   Reduced PTSD symptoms

Trauma-Informed Yoga has shown significant promise in reducing symptoms of PTSD, especially in those with a history of chronic childhood trauma. A 2017 study that used TIY as a complementary treatment for PTSD revealed that participants in a 10-week Trauma Sensitive Yoga class experienced notable improvements in their PTSD symptoms. They reported feelings of gratitude, compassion, acceptance, and empowerment, which points out the effectiveness of TIY for managing PTSD symptoms (West et al. 2017)

A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy also shows that TSY has significant effects on improving PTSD and depression outcomes. In fact, the authors examined the impact of TSY on women with a history of trauma and depression. Based on the findings, they suggest that TSY can be a valuable adjunctive therapy in managing trauma-related symptoms.

2.   Improved body awareness and better toleration of senses

Another benefit of Trauma-Informed Yoga is enhanced body awareness and, therefore, the ability to tolerate sensory experiences. Trauma survivors often experience a disconnection from their bodies. One of the main goals for TIY therapists is to help practitioners feel their bodies and recognize their senses. Over time, this can result in a better ability to tolerate their senses and become more attuned to their bodies.

3.   Enhanced emotional regulation and a more balanced nervous system

As a result of controlled breathing and mindful movements, TIY helps individuals regulate their nervous systems. This is crucial for those who experience heightened states of anxiety or hyperarousal due to trauma. During the practice, therapists encourage the clients to shift from the sympathetic nervous system’s ‘fight or flight‘ response to the parasympathetic system’s ‘rest and digest’ state. Consequently, they can achieve a sense of calm and stability.

Studies have supported these benefits. For instance, research published in Occupational Therapy in Mental Health suggests that TIY leads to improved self-regulation and awareness. encourages individuals to take care of their help and this, in turn, improves their quality of life (Klukan & Lunsford, 2023). Another study published in Advances in Integrative Medicine shows that an online trauma-informed yoga program can promote mental health by improving mindfulness, resilience, and self-compassion (Mulvihill et al., 2022).

Who Can Benefit from Trauma-Informed Yoga?

Today, healthcare professionals consider Trauma-informed Yoga a complementary treatment for people who have experienced trauma and are seeking holistic healing methods (e.g., Macy et al., 2015). This approach is particularly beneficial for those who may not fully resonate with or benefit from traditional therapeutic methods alone.

Here are some of the groups who can greatly benefit from Trauma-Informed Yoga:

  • Individuals with complex trauma
  • Survivors of acute traumatic events
  • Individuals with anxiety disorders, acute stress, and related disorders
  • Children and adolescents with a trauma history
  • Individuals with chronic illness or pain

Trauma-Informed Yoga at Health for Life Counseling: How it Works

At Health for Life Counseling, Trauma-Informed Yoga is an accessible activity for anyone who needs to work through trauma. Here’s how it works:

  • Beginner-friendly environment

The yoga sessions are beginner-friendly for anybody, which means that anyone can participate, regardless of their yoga experience, gender, sexual orientation, or race. TIY therapists provide participants with body awareness practices for self-advocacy and awareness, along with modalities for nervous system regulation (e.g., vagus nerve toning, gentle breathwork, tapping, and meditation).

  • Verbal cues (instead of physical assists)

Instructors use verbal cues to guide participants into yoga poses. This method is chosen over physical assists to respect the autonomy and personal space of each individual. The verbal cues help participants explore the poses in a way that feels comfortable and beneficial for them.

  • Safe and inclusive environment

The sessions are conducted in an environment that is inclusive, accessible, and safe. Therefore, individuals who may have experienced trauma can feel secure and supported.

  • Body-Mind connection

The intention is to guide individuals in exploring their body’s mind and language to deepen their sense of connectedness within. They’re encouraged to explore how their bodies have adapted to their thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

*Please consult your doctor before participating in trauma-informed yoga.

*Trauma-informed yoga is not a substitute for any type of medical treatment.

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