So, there’s this non-profit that I’ve been acting as the part-time Director of Communications for for the past two years called Yoga Outreach – although, as a new mom, have recently adapted my role to contract work (as I type this my ankles are literally being bitten by an 11 month old boy who somewhat resembles a shrunken me).
As a yoga instructor, and someone who as experienced trauma (as so many people have), I’ve always been passionate about ensuring my classes don’t exclude anyone, particularly based on their financial situation, mental health challenges, or past trauma. For example, you won’t catch me sneaking up behind you, touching you, telling you what to do or how to interpret what you might be feeling, or generally showing off, and Yoga Outreach classes do just that, but much more.
They partner with social service facilities across the Lower Mainland, such as jails, addictions recovery centres, transition houses, youth centres, psychiatric programs, hospitals – you name it, and provide (and train) trauma-informed volunteer yoga instructors to provide weekly classes for their participants. All participants generally have one thing in common, a big factor in what led them to the facility they are currently accessing – histories of trauma.
These yoga classes help participants learn to feel safe within their bodies again; by connecting with their breath and being offered a lot of choices, they get an hour of safe relaxation, and learn tools to call on day-to-day in order to self-regulate when triggers arise.
I believe that the benefits of yoga – mind/body connection and feeling safe within your own body, should be accessible to every single person. Accessibility has to do with several factors, including location, cost, language, clothing (this may sound shocking, but you actually do not need to wear Lululemon clothes to practice yoga, any comfortable clothing will do!)
Here’s to offering yoga classes that are trauma-informed so that all people can access the healing benefits of yoga in a non-judgemental, safe, environment.
Pictured: me demonstrating a chair yoga class, like Yoga Outreach provides for Paul’s Club for people faced with early onset dementia. Chairs can be used in almost any class for added stability.