June 24, 2014

Embodiment and the Creation of a Soulful Relationship with your Body: Healing from Sexual Trauma

I must say, I'm bummed that this is the final installment by Zabie on the healing of sexual trauma through yoga! I've learned so much and been so inspired -- I hope you have too!

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“For a traumatized person, the journey toward a vital, spontaneous life means more than alleviating symptoms--it means transformation. When we successfully renegotiate trauma, a fundamental shift occurs in our beings... Through transformation, the nervous system regains its capacity for self-regulation. Our emotions begin to lift us up rather than bring us down. They propel us into the exhilarating ability to soar and fly, giving us a more complete view of our place in nature. Our perceptions broaden to encompass a receptivity and acceptance of what is without judgment. We are able to learn from our life experiences. Without trying to forgive, we understand that there is no blame. We often obtain a surer sense of self while becoming more resilient and spontaneous. This new self-assuredness allows us to relax, enjoy, and live life more fully.”

–Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger, Healing Trauma


Soulful Body

I never imagined that I could feel strong and safe in my body again.  After the trauma I completely neglected the needs of my body because frankly, I detested it. I would look in the mirror some days and not feel any connection to what I was witnessing.  It was a sad, lonely, and frightening place to be. It was not until I learned through my own personal exploration of the beautiful practice of yoga that it takes the whole mind, body, and spirit to transform the deep seeded wounds of trauma.

Enter: light.

The light that yoga brought into my life is truly encompassed by the process of transformation that Peter Levine so eloquently describes above. Yoga has given me permission to live the life I was destined to live. The wonderful thing about yoga is that you can take it with you anywhere. Whenever a painful memory arises or I feel the anxiety and distress flowing through my skin, I can always return to my breath to regulate my emotions. When I notice my mouth getting dry, my palms start to sweat, and my heart beating out of my chest when going into the details of my story, I can walk outside and feel the beauty of nature, the wind on skin, the warmth of the sun on my face and know that I am vibrant and alive. When I come home from a horrible day at work after hearing the trauma-filled stories of survivors, I often times think that binge eating unhealthy food will help me cope. When I resist that urge and instead make the choice to eat something cleansing and nourishing to my body, I am practicing yoga. Yoga helps me stay embodied. Yoga is a lifestyle that transforms the healing process. It’s magic really. The past few years I have finally settled into a path of healing that feels authentic for me. Everything clicked. My body changed. My relationships changed. My life changed.

The most important thing I want to communicate is that through the practice of yoga, YOU always have a choice. Whether it is finding answers within the four corners of your mat, turning inward and noticing conscious connections of your breath to your movement, or even making the decision to carve out time in your day just for you…yoga exists all around you.

Do no Harm

I keep going back to the principles of trauma-sensitive yoga because they are a central component of healing trauma. Restoring a sense of choice and establishing safety cannot be stressed enough. I was reading a local yoga magazine last week and came across a photo of a woman in a yoga pose who was bound by something that looked like black duct tape. The caption of the ad read “All Bound Up? Come Unwind.” I kept having a horribly adverse reaction to the ad and realized how the only impact it was having on me was feelings of being traumatized and unsafe. My heart deeply sank when I realized how a survivor might feel looking at that ad whose trauma involved being tied or bound in some way. I was saddened to think of how it might deter a survivor from a practice that could be an incredibly healing part of their journey. It brought me to tears.

In that moment of devastation, I found a glimmer of hope. I realized how pivotal my work in this movement is. Experiences like this empower me to continue my education about the intersection between yoga and trauma and help teachers understand the powerful impact of making changes to their classes to ensure they are trauma-informed. Most importantly, Margaret Howard’s message of “do no harm” cannot resonate more deeply.


The Transformational Journey: Survivor Stories 

I wanted to share a few testimonials of students who have participated in the Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga Program and whose lives have been transformed through the practices of trauma-sensitive yoga. I hope that if one day you choose to embark on this journey, these words can give you strength and hope.

“I learned so much from this program, not only did I learn yoga but I also learned more about myself and my body. I learned to take care of myself, to be conscious of signs that point to me doing the opposite of self-care. I learned how to read my emotions, to pay attention to my surroundings, and to be more assertive and strong. But most of all I learned how to let myself become the person I am meant to be, to let myself see me for me. It allowed me to view myself in a positive light.”

"Since the assault, I've regarded my body as something almost like a traitor or foreign. This program has helped me feel more comfortable in my skin. I feel strong and beautiful. I feel like I'm in control of my body again."

"I gained my body, spirit, and mind back. I gained confidence, openness, and courage. I gained strength, assertiveness, and knowledge to carry me for a lifetime. I gained myself back."

"This program helped me find my inner voice. Peace. Some courage to be myself and communicate my needs/wants to others. I'm learning how to speak up for myself. This yoga class has changed my life."
 
"Zabie has forever changed my life.  Before I was lost and numb.  She has shed light into my life and guided me to be the strongest I've ever been.  She has showed me the positive aspects of my life and taught me to be loving, open and confident."

"I found a way to be calm at my most stressful and emotional times."


“Prior to the program, I was having difficulty with eating.  When I would get stressed, either emotionally or with school, I would have a panic attack and eat until I "felt better.  I felt that the satisfaction from eating, as if I was hungry, calmed me down.    I have gained 30 pounds since I was raped, but I am proud to say that since the beginning of yoga, I have been able to control my emotions way better and have stopped eating/binging. "
 “I can now manage painful experiences well without breaking apart.”

“I learned that being who I am is enough.”



Trauma-Sensitive Yoga 8-Week Series, Center for Living Peace



Meditate

I want to leave you with one of my favorite meditations from “Five Good Minutes in Your Body” about creating the sacredness within:

“At the center for your being lives your soul. (If it is comfortable for you) Visualize your soul as a radiant, golden beam of light near your heart or in your belly. This inner light represents all your beauty, strength, resiliency, and other positive qualities. It is your spiritual core. It isn’t troubled by physical shortcomings or limitations. Focus on this light that represents your soul and (I invite you to) breathe into it- imagine the light growing in intensity and radiance with each breath in and out.”

I invite you to live your intention. To experience the life you deserve. The life you envisioned is yours.


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Zabie received her BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at UC Irvine and her MA in Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University, and is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga instructor offering workshops specifically designed for healing trauma. Zabie is the Violence Prevention Coordinator at UC Irvine and serves on Board of Directors for Stop Street Harassment and We Step into the Light. She is the founder of Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga, an organization with a simple mission: empowering survivors to heal through yoga. She teaches trauma-sensitive yoga classes at Be the Change and the Center for Living Peace in Orange County, California.

Zabie has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum being implemented throughout the U.S. Her work has been highlighted in the Huffington Post, OC Register, Pinterest, Elephant Journal, Breathe OC, Coast Magazine, and various OC publications and magazines.


Photo by Sargeant Creative

June 16, 2014

Yoga Postures to Support Healing for Survivors of Sexual Trauma: At-home Practice

This week in our series on how yoga can help us heal from sexual trauma, Zabie shares with us specific postures to address various symptoms and areas of struggling. Just amazing!!

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Photos taken by Garrett Yamasaki
Special thanks to http://www.alexismarbach.com/ for her contributions to this post

Last week I provided a broad overview of the impact that yoga has on the healing process for survivors of sexual violence and the importance of classes that are trauma-informed. Regardless of the nature of the traumatic incident, survivors may suffer from physical pain and emotional unrest after experiencing a trigger or as a chronic underpinning of their daily activities. There is no doubt that trauma impacts brain functioning. After experiencing trauma, the amygdala goes into over-drive and anticipates danger even when there is none. Trauma can leave the body feeling dis-regulated and unsafe. The practice of yoga can help survivors establish safety and resource their body in a way that feels authentic and manageable.

This post provides you with specific yoga postures and explanations to address a variety of struggles and symptoms that survivors may face. As you will see in the cues provided below, every posture is an invitation--an opportunity for you to personally explore your body in your own way.


Symptom: Dis-regulated breathing

Impact of yoga:
Yoga focuses on conscious breathing and invites survivors to notice the natural rhythm of their breath. Trauma-sensitive breathing is performed in the context of a muscular and physical form to facilitate grounding and present moment experience (Emerson, 2012).

A trauma informed practice invites students to breathe in ways that feel natural and comfortable. Instructors use cues to encourage people to be aware of what is happening in their body in the present moment.

Seated Meditation
At home exercise:
I invite you to come into a comfortable seated position whatever that looks like for you. Maybe something similar to the picture below or perhaps allowing your arms to fall by your sides, maybe the palms gently open.

I invite you to take a deep full inhale through your nose and open mouth exhale out your mouth. I invite you to let go of your day, let go of any distractions- allow this to be a gentle space for you, your body, and your breath. Come into a mindful breath. Maybe in this moment, identify a mantra: I am strong or I will live this day with grace. Choose something to focus your energy and attention. Breathe into it at your own pace.


Symptoms: Throat constriction, heightened anxiety, flashbacks

Impact of yoga:
Yoga helps survivors maintain a sense of calmness by helping to regulate the body and sensations and by connecting breath and movement and re-establishing a sense of time inside.

When survivors experience hyper arousal; active postures that focus on cultivating breath to movement can be helpful to facilitate engagement and energy in the body. 

At home practice:
Moving through sun salutations at your own pace and in your own way can be incredibly healing and conducive to cultivating presence and stability in the body.

I invite you to begin in mountain pose. Inviting the arms to extend high and fingertips to engage, maybe the palms face towards each other, rolling the pinkies inward. Find length through the spine and feel both feet grounded on the mat. Know that you are strong and supported. If you would like to add a small backbend, I invite you to draw the elbows back and let the heart shine towards the sky. On your next inhale, explore with drawing your arms back to mountain pose- noticing this breath to movement connection. When you are ready, feel free to draw your palms together overhead. On the exhale, I invite you to bring your palms through heart center into a forward fold, releasing your fingertips to the mat. Feel free to add any additional postures throughout your sun salutations and move your body only in ways that feel comfortable for you.

Mountain Pose


Standing Meditation

Symptom: Uptight body posture

Impact of yoga:
Yoga can help survivors find balance and promote open body posture. Yoga allows survivors to feel specific points of contact (ex: “I invite you for a moment to notice both feet on the ground and at the same time find length in your spine.”)

At home practice:

Baby Backbend
Upward Facing Dog
Backbends allow you to find an opening in the heart and create an opportunity to release built up tension.

Other helpful backbends include: camel and cow pose.


Symptom: Lack of presence

Impact of yoga:
Trauma-sensitive yoga focuses on experiencing the present moment, appreciating the body for whatever it wants to do that day, and most importantly understanding that there are always choices.
Trauma-sensitive yoga helps survivors notice and orient to the space and sense the position of their body (ex: “I invite you to notice what happens when you disengage the muscles in the quads.”)

At home practice:
Chair pose is an opportunity to cultivate strength in the body and find presence in your practice by noticing the changes in muscle engagement.
Chair Pose

When you feel ready brings the feet together to touch. Bend the knees only as deeply as your body
allows. I invite you to draw the arms up and tuck the tailbone. Invite length into your spine. Feel the strength of your body. Adjust as needed to increase your comfort.


Symptom: GI issues

Impact of yoga:
Specific forms like warrior and twisting poses soothe abdominal distress and detoxify the stress in the belly organs.

At home practice:
I invite you to come into seated or standing allowing your arms to fall by your sides. When you feel comfortable on your inhale, draw the arms up with the fingertips engaged. On the exhale turn to the right for a vertical twist, extending the arms in opposite directions. (Repeat on left side)

Seated Vertical Twist

From a downward facing dog posture, I invite you on the inhale to draw your right leg high. Maybe the heel is up and the toe faces down toward the mat. When you feel ready in your body, allow your exhale to draw the right foot between your palms. Spin the left heel to 45 degrees so it is parallel with the mat. Find grounding here and in your own time, extend your arms up, allowing the palms to face towards each other. If it feels okay in your body, actively draw the left hip forward and the right hip back for Warrior I. (Repeat on left side)

Warrior I

Symptom: Disassociation

Impact of yoga:
Yoga postures that incorporate active forms and twists and that invite survivors to move slowly and mindfully from sitting to standing can help with experiences of disassociation.

Yoga allows survivors to practice mindfulness: the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to things as they are (The Mindful Way through Depression, 2007)

At home practice:

Arm circles invite students to find connection and presence by cultivating a conscious, mindful connection of breath to movement. I invite you to ground down through your feet, drawing them about hip distance apart. When you feel ready, allow your fingertips to graze the mat in a forward fold posture. If it feels right in your body, interlace your arms and reach for opposite elbows. On your inhale, invite the body up in a circular motion. Invite a slow, mindful movement and notice the connection of your breath to your movement. When it feels right for you, on the exhale draw the arms down in a circle. Continue this at your own pace and reverse direction of the circles at any time.
Arm Circles
Prayer Twist





Prayer twist is an active posture that can support this symptom as well. From chair pose, draw the palms together at heart center if that feels comfortable. On your inhale I invite you to hinge forward to find length in your spine. On your exhale, twist to the right, drawing the left elbow outside of the right knee. Feel free to twist only as deeply as your body feels comfortable. (Repeat on left side)









Difficulty with relationships and intimacy

Impact of yoga:
People who experience trauma can become emotionally disconnected from themselves as well as other people. The trauma may induce a need to build walls and layers of protection (Brown, 2012).

Yoga can help survivors develop a strong connection to the body as well as trust of self and others. Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga has allowed survivors to strengthen their relationships by allowing them to have greater self-awareness and a strong understanding of how to set boundaries and be assertive.

At-home practice:
Even just taking time out of your day to find solitude and connection can be extremely beneficial to the healing process. We often times spend so much of our day neglecting the needs of our body. I invite you to come into a comfortable position laying on your back. If you would like to bring the soles of your feet together, please feel free to do so. If this creates too much tension in the hips, just allow your legs to extend forward. Notice the shoulders nestled into the mat, maybe sink down into this space a little deeper with each exhale. Find a cozy, comfortable position. You can use blocks or a blanket to increase your comfort and add support. I invite you to place the hands wherever feels comfortable. Maybe down by your sides or perhaps one hand on the belly and one hand on the heart. I invite you to listen to the sound of your own breath. There is nothing left to do but breathe and be.


 


Supported Bridge


Self-esteem issues

Impact of yoga:
Many survivors disclose that thinking about their past experiences with assault can consume and drain their energy and breed negativity which has a significant impact on their self-esteem and day to day functioning.

Yoga helps to clear the mind and increases the supply of oxygen to the body which in turn helps reduce stress, increase energy flow and ensure mental clarity.

Yoga can helps to awaken body posture and helps those who feel emotionally disconnected from themselves and others. In essence, yoga promotes self-love which is the core of well-being.

At-home practice:
Crescent Moon
When I am in need of a pick me up and energizer, crescent moon helps me cultivate the balance I need in my body. From a downward facing dog posture, I invite you on the inhale to draw your right leg high. Maybe the heel is up and the toe faces down toward the mat. When you feel ready in your body, allow your exhale to draw the right foot between your palms. Feel free to release your left knee to the mat. When it feels good, extend your arms up allowing the palms to face each other. Feel free
to draw the elbows back and let the heart shine to find a slight backbend. I invite you to bend into the right knee if deepening the stretch feels good for you. Always your body, your practice, your choice. (Repeat on left side)





Symptom: Aches and pains

Impact of yoga:
Several studies at Duke University Medical Center found yoga as an effective tool for chronic pain (Katz, 2011). Yoga postures help reduce joint pain, muscle stiffness, and overall physical discomfort while greatly improving flexibility, range of motion, muscle strength, and mental strength.

I invite you to practice gentle stretches in your body. From a seated position extend the right leg long and draw the sole of your left foot to you inner right thigh. As it feels right, gently extend your arms up. Rotate the hips towards your right leg and lengthen on the inhale extending your fingertips high.
On your exhale, slowly fold forward. There are many variations to invite in the body here to increase your comfort. Perhaps resting your hands on your shins or inviting a slight bend into your right knee. Maybe reach the palms under the sole of the right foot drawing your forehead down. If you’d like you can stack blocks and melt your forehead into them for added support. Take this posture at your layer.




Symptom: Depression

Impact of yoga:
Yoga helps to stimulate and awaken the body and mind and help students connect to a deeper purpose in life, an inner sense of calm, and an opportunity to channel nervous energy

Helpful postures include: deep, full inhalations and audible exhalations, repeated sun salutations, backbends, and arm balances

At-home practice:
Child’s pose is always available to you to cultivate centeredness and grounding and focus on your breath whenever you feel overwhelmed.

If you’d like you can draw your knees to the outside edges of your mat and bring your big toes to touch behind if that is available to you. I invite you to extend your arms forward, lengthening through the fingertips. Maybe massage your forehead into the mat. Breathe in and out in ways that feel natural and authentic for you. If you’d like you can draw your knees together, and let your arms fall by your sides. Find you own personal variation, do what feels good in your body.
 
Child's Pose

Symptom: Chronic sleep problems

Impact of yoga:
Several studies discuss yoga’s impact on reducing insomnia. In one study, researchers found that the participants had significantly improved sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, sleep onset latency, and wake time after sleep onset at the end of treatment compared with before the treatment (Harvard study, 2009).

Yoga is an effective treatment because it addresses insomnia's physical and psychological aspects (Sat Bir Khalsa, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women's Hospital)

At-home practice:

Winding down your practice with a reclining twist is a great way to un-wind and detoxify and prepare for meditation. I invite you to lay on your back. When it feels comfortable, gently hug the right knee in to the right under arm. On the inhale gently hug the knee in, on your exhale, guide the right knee over to the left side of your body. On each inhale I invite you to notice the length of your spine, on each exhale, feel free to deepen the stretch in your knee. If you’d like you can place a block under your knee for added support. (Repeat on left side).


Reclining Twist


For more information on Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga, check out this Breathe OC video or contact Zabie at zkhoraki@gmail.comzkhoraki@gmail.com.


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Zabie received her BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at UC Irvine and her MA in Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University, and is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga instructor offering workshops specifically designed for healing trauma. Zabie is the Violence Prevention Coordinator at UC Irvine and serves on Board of Directors for Stop Street Harassment and We Step into the Light. She is the founder of Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga, an organization with a simple mission: empowering survivors to heal through yoga. She teaches trauma-sensitive yoga classes at Be the Change and the Center for Living Peace in Orange County, California.

Zabie has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum being implemented throughout the U.S. Her work has been highlighted in the Huffington Post, OC Register, Pinterest, Elephant Journal, Breathe OC, Coast Magazine, and various OC publications and magazines.


Photo by Sargeant Creative

June 11, 2014

Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga

This week, I begin a great series with Zabie Garrett, a trauma-sensitive yoga instructor. When I met Zabie, I knew immediately that I had to share her work and perspective on healing through yoga. I know you will learn so much from this 3-part series in which she explores the impact of yoga on the healing process for survivors of sexual violence.

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“Until we understand that traumatic symptoms are physiological as well as psychological, we will be woefully inadequate in our attempts to help them heal.”  
–Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger and Healing Trauma


Survivors of sexual violence often hold their experiences of trauma as sensations in the body. Trauma manifests both physically and emotionally in a multitude of ways and layers and can leave the body feeling dis-regulated and unsafe. As a result, it is so essential to offer survivors an avenue to heal and process their trauma using their one innate resource: their body.


My story 

 
When I was sexually assaulted in 2007, I remember how scary it was to feel unsafe within my own body. My body had betrayed me and suddenly I didn’t know how to navigate my life when dealing with hyper vigilance and anxiety attacks. All of these somatic experiences felt completely unmanageable and the disconnection and fragmentation I felt from myself was painful. I had feelings of suffocation within the layers of my own skin with no outlet that felt authentic. These were all physiological symptoms and talking about them in therapy didn’t help me. It wasn’t until I took my first yoga class did I realize that through my breath, through the movement of my body, through the power of my choices…that I had everything I needed within myself to heal.
 

The spectrum of healing that took place after embracing yoga as a treatment for my trauma was life changing. The ways I could thoughtfully move through postures on my mat, while being in tune to what felt comfortable and safe within my body was beautiful. This was a powerful moment as it was the first time in a long time that I actually listened to what my body was communicating to me. I could breathe through any unpleasant experiences that came up and cultivate presence in the moment. This allowed me to develop tangible skills to support me in my everyday life especially when trying to navigate painful memories and triggers.
 


Why yoga?

Through the practice of yoga, the body can build and connect the fragmented pieces back together through self-regulation, personal exploration of the postures, and natural breathing. Yoga gives survivors a way to express what they are feeling nonverbally and takes the pressure away of feeling that processing cognitively is the only way. Yoga offers the opportunity to move the trauma through the body and helps survivors take steps towards finding stability and safety within. Yoga offers a holistic approach that takes into account the variety of ways that trauma impacts and stays with people for their entire lives.

I have had the firsthand experience of teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to hundreds of survivors of sexual assault. In my eight years of experience working within the field of gender-based violence, I have not witnessed anything more powerful than the impact of yoga on the healing process.
 

Some of the benefits of trauma-sensitive yoga that have been self reported by survivors include:
  • Stronger self-esteem and confidence
  • Development of positive coping mechanisms
  • Empowered to seek other resources (medical, counseling, reporting)
  • Decreased binge eating
  • Learned the importance of self-care
  • Learned how to set boundaries and be assertive
  • Felt more grounded and balanced
  • Learned to trust self and others
  • Gained courage, peace, and a strong community of support
  • Gained the ability to be intimate again
  • Understood they had choices
  • Felt a strong sense of safety in the body
  • The importance of trauma-informed yoga
The responsibility of teaching yoga to survivors of sexual trauma is serious and should be handled with the utmost sensitivity and training. I want to make it clear how essential it is to create a space that is conducive to healing vs. re-traumatizing. I would argue that every yoga teacher training should educate teachers about the impact of trauma and how it might manifest in the room with their students. Trainings should include trauma-sensitive yoga techniques and how teachers can be more mindful and aware. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner Violence Survey, 1 in 2 women (44.6%) and 1 in 5 men (22.2%) have experienced sexual violence throughout their lifetime. With numbers like this, we must be aware of the experiences that students are coming into the yoga room with. It is essential to facilitate a safe, accessible, and inclusive healing experience.
 

To help illustrate what I mean by that I want to invite you for a moment to imagine what it might feel like for a survivor walking into a yoga studio or gym for the first time. Imagine what the impact of trauma might have on someone, anything ranging from flashbacks and dissociation to difficulty connecting with others or not being ready to be seen (Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Training 2012, Emerson). Imagine walking into an unfamiliar space and gazing around a dimly lit room to see other students perhaps dressed in minimal clothing. Imagine having to lie down only a few inches away from a perfect stranger or being in an uncomfortably hot and condensed space. What might it feel like to see straps hanging on the wall or to have a yoga teacher place their hands on you to offer a physical adjustment without permission? What if a teacher cued a posture that was triggering and you didn’t feel like there was another option?
 

I want to illustrate this experience because I think it is essential to understand the principles of trauma-sensitive yoga and how central they are to the treatment of trauma. Attending David Emerson and Jen Turner’s trauma-sensitive yoga teacher training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health changed my life and prepared me to hold space for survivors in the room. I co-wrote an article after the training with a dear friend and colleague, Alexis Marbach, titled The Journey to Heal: Understand Trauma-Sensitive Yoga.
 

The training taught me about empowerment-based language, the various options for breath, how to manage triggers in the room, the importance of seeing physical adjustments as a clinical issue, the intake process, and most importantly the powerful impact of yoga on the healing process. Next week’s blog post will explore trauma symptoms of survivors of sexual violence and specific yoga postures that can help in the healing process to offer tangible strategies for an at home practice.

If we think back to the roots of yoga, it started as a practice in India as a means to transcend suffering. This central core of yoga is what guides me in my teaching and purpose. Yoga changed my life and continues to be a part of my everyday healing. It has given me the strength to cultivate a safe space for so many survivors looking to deepen their healing and reclaim their bodies. Yoga helps survivors find their voice and most importantly offers an incredible gift: power and control.
 

For anyone looking for a trauma-sensitive yoga program or teacher in your area, The Breathe Network is an amazing place to start. This is an organization that connects survivors of sexual violence to healing arts practitioners that offer services on a sliding scale. Another excellent resource is “Overcoming Trauma through Yoga” by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, which is an engaging and research-based framework on how to safely and effectively incorporate yoga into the healing process.


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Zabie received her BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at UC Irvine and her MA in Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University, and is a certified trauma-sensitive yoga instructor offering workshops specifically designed for healing trauma. Zabie is the Violence Prevention Coordinator at UC Irvine and serves on Board of Directors for Stop Street Harassment and We Step into the Light. She is the founder of Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga, an organization with a simple mission: empowering survivors to heal through yoga. She teaches trauma-sensitive yoga classes at Be the Change and the Center for Living Peace in Orange County, California.

Zabie has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum being implemented throughout the U.S. Her work has been highlighted in the Huffington Post, OC Register, Pinterest, Elephant Journal, Breathe OC, Coast Magazine, and various OC publications and magazines.


Photo by Sargeant Creative

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