Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Evolution of Yoga

By Jivana Heyman

Recent research has revealed that over the course of millions of years, five different animals have separately evolved into crabs. Yes, you read that right, five different kinds of animals went through their own evolution and all ended up like crabs. It’s astounding to consider that crabs are so effective and efficient evolutionarily that different animals have become crabs, or crab-like.

This research made me reflect on the human condition and our tendency to recreate unresolved issues in our personal lives––don’t we end up marrying someone just like one of our parents, or literally becoming our parents as we age? It also reminds me of the tendency for civilizations to repeat history. Any student of history can’t help but see the parallels between the current U.S. government and the pre-World War II Nazi government.

It seems like an unavoidable aspect of human nature is that we are destined to repeat our past mistakes. I wonder if there’s something similar happening in the yoga world? I sure hope not. The history of yoga in the West provides too many examples of yoga empires built on manipulation and abuse. The most recent examples are Bikram, Ashtanga, Sivananda Vedanta, and Kundalini, which have all had major abuse scandals in the last few years.

Are we destined to repeat this history, or can we find another way forward post-COVID where we engage with our practice effectively enough to see through our samskaras (the mind’s tendencies)? Last week, the biggest yoga chain in the world, YogaWorks, declared bankruptcy. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our industry and business, including mandatory studio closures and social distancing-imposed attendance restrictions even where studios have been permitted to reopen,” said Brian Cooper, Chief Executive Officer of YogaWorks. Honestly, that’s the least of the damage that’s happened through the pandemic. What about the fact that almost all independent yoga studios are permanently closed, and most yoga teachers are out of work?

The question is: Can the demise of the modern yoga studio offer an opportunity to build something new in its place, or are we destined to recreate the same issues that plagued the industry before the pandemic? Those issues include a lack of accessibility, racism, abuse, and unaddressed cultural appropriation. These issues all stem from a system based on greed and profiteering, rather than a system built on the foundational yoga teachings.

In other words, the yoga industry became a hollow shell, serving up a form of practice divorced from the philosophical and moral foundations of the very thing it was purportedly selling. The yoga industry became a crab––it evolved into that same form that our greed and selfishness often recreate: a system built on profit and bottom lines.

The thing is, the yoga teachings are completely at odds with capitalism. You literally can’t sell yoga. You can sell the fancy accoutrements that go alongside it, you can sell a body type that really has nothing to do with it, but you can’t sell yoga. You can sell time in a room with a teacher, books, and online courses, but the yoga is free.

So how do we build back better? How do we create a yoga community rather than a yoga industry based on profit? To be honest, we probably can’t. We’re just going to build another crab. But, there might be a group of us that breaks off and has a chance to evolve into something else...maybe a jellyfish, or an octopus? I imagine that commercial yoga will come roaring back at some point. I don’t think we can stop that evolution, but we don’t have to contribute to it.

We can create a different kind of yoga community built on yoga’s foundational ethics: ahimsa and satya, nonviolence (compassion) and truthfulness (honesty). This means we need to acknowledge the harm that has been done in the name of yoga, and commit to change. It’s not about shame, but clarity (viveka).

I’m not suggesting we create a new organization, new teacher training standards, or a new yoga style. Instead, I am simply asking you how you can become more dedicated to the truth of yoga in your life? (And I’m asking myself these same questions.) Is there a way to dedicate ourselves to the truth of yoga, rather than the lie of yoga marketing? If so, it starts with self-inquiry, asking ourselves questions like this:

  • What does yoga mean to me? 
  • Does my practice, and teaching, reflect that truth?
  • Am I integrating ahimsa (compassion) and satya (honesty) into my practice?
  • Are my practice and teaching accessible, actively anti-racist, and addressing cultural appropriation?
  • Am I dedicated to my own freedom and the empowerment of my students? 
  • What is the relationship between my personal liberation and communal liberation?

One of the amazing things about yoga is that it is simultaneously personal and communal. The work I do on myself contributes to the community because I create less harm in the world. My practice also allows me to truly be of service to others by showing me how to fill up my own well, rather than constantly looking outward for others to validate or support me. The way I teach has an even greater impact on the world. My words, and the messages I’m sharing, can lead to dependency and insecurity. Or, I can show other people the way of independence, empowerment, and freedom.

All yoga practitioners need to consider the way they are practicing and teaching, and the impact they are having on the world around them. This intimately personal exploration allows us to come together in our hearts, and create a yoga community based in yoga with its moral foundations. Otherwise, we just end up evolving into crabs.

Jivana Heyman, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of Accessible Yoga, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. Accessible Yoga offers Conferences, Community Conversations, a Blog, and an Ambassador program. He’s the creator of the Accessible Yoga Training, and the author of the book, Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body (Shambhala Publications, 2019). Jivana has specialized in teaching yoga to people with disabilities and out of this work, the Accessible Yoga organization was created to support education, training, and advocacy with the mission of shifting the public perception of yoga. More info at

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

° FOLLOW Accessible Yoga on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

° REGISTER here for our next conference.

° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Le Yoga Peut Aider Avec Les Symptômes De La Sclérose En Plaques

Élasticité, Umberto Boccioni, 1912, huile sur toile

écrit par Ram Rao, traduit par Agathe Sowmya
This article was previously posted in English.

Les neurones qui servent de composants centraux du cerveau et de la moelle épinière du système nerveux central sont des cellules électriquement excitables. Les neurones traitent et transmettent l’information par des signaux électrochimiques, formant ainsi des réseaux neuronaux complexes. Ces signaux voyagent entre les neurones à travers des points de jonction spécialisés, appelés synapses.

Afin d’assurer une transmission rapide et efficace de l’information, les neurones sont dotés d’une gaine isolante appelée myéline. La présence de myéline assure la transmission rapide des impulsions électrochimiques le long du neurone myélinisé au prochain neurone voisin. Elle aide également à empêcher les signaux électrochimiques de quitter au hasard le neurone, permettant ainsi une communication rapide pour la signalisation longue distance et le soutient de tels signaux. Les neurones myélinisés (neurones qui sont dotés de la gaine de myéline) sont blancs en apparence, d’où le terme « matière blanche » du cerveau. Sous un microscope, les neurones myélinisés apparaissent comme des chaînes de saucisses. Le principal constituant de la myéline est le cholestérol. Elle a également environ 15 à 30% de protéines. La protéine prédominante est la protéine basique de la myéline (PBM).

Pour des raisons qui ne sont pas claires, le système de défense du corps chez certains individus reconnaît la protéine basique de la myéline comme « étrangère » et commence à l’attaquer. Cette affection inflammatoire auto-immune est la sclérose en plaques ou la SEP. Lorsque le système de défense du corps s’empare de la myéline, la gaine protectrice perd son intégrité structurelle et fonctionnelle entraînant une perturbation de la communication neuronale lisse. Plus la myéline est détruite, plus les impulsions nerveuses sont lentes et moins efficaces. Finalement, au fur et à mesure que la maladie progresse, elle peut causer la détérioration ou l’endommagement permanent des nerfs eux-mêmes.

Les signes, les symptômes, la gravité et la durée de la SEP varient en fonction de l’étendue des lésions nerveuses et des nerfs qui sont affectés. Certaines personnes peuvent avoir une inflammation de faible degré la plupart de leur vie, tandis que d’autres peuvent développer des symptômes chroniques graves qui ne disparaissent jamais. Les femmes sont plus de deux fois plus susceptibles de développer la sclérose en plaques que les hommes. La SEP touche habituellement les personnes âgées de 20 à 50 ans, et l’âge moyen d’apparition est d’environ 30 ans.

Les premiers signes courants de SEP comprennent : les problèmes de vision, picotements et engourdissements dans les articulations, les doigts et les orteils, douleur, spasmes, faiblesse, fatigue, problèmes d’équilibre, étourdissements, problèmes de vessie, dysfonction sexuelle, et des problèmes cognitifs. Au fur et à mesure que la maladie progresse, les symptômes peuvent devenir plus graves. Bien que la SEP ne soit pas une maladie mortelle, il n’existe actuellement aucun remède contre la maladie. Les personnes atteintes de SEP ont essentiellement la même espérance de vie que la population générale. Les traitements anti-inflammatoires modifient le cours de la maladie, et peuvent aider à gérer les symptômes et à récupérer des attaques inflammatoires. La kinésithérapie et l’ergothérapie sont un excellent moyen de gérer la pathologie.

Bien que le yoga ne guérisse pas la SEP, par ses postures et ses techniques de respiration, il aide à concentrer l’esprit et à prêter attention au corps. Par exemple, pour les personnes présentant des symptômes complets de la SEP, les matins peuvent être une épreuve car le corps est tendu et raide à cause du sommeil de la nuit précédente. La pratique du Yoga peut soulager bon nombre des symptômes physiques et des défis émotionnels par la respiration et les exercices d’étirement, qui aident les individus à accomplir avec succès des tâches et faire des choses avec moins de douleur et d’inconfort tout au long de la journée. Plusieurs des postures de yoga peuvent soulager en toute sécurité de nombreux symptômes de la SEP tels que la perte de contrôle de la vessie, l’équilibre et la fatigue. Plusieurs travaux de recherche traitent des avantages et du rôle potentiel du Yoga comme traitement alternatif de la gestion des symptômes pour les personnes atteintes de SEP et décrivent comment le Yoga peut améliorer leur qualité de vie.

Dans tous les travaux de recherche portant sur le Yoga, l’opinion parmi les sujets atteints de SEP a été unanime : les sujets ont signalé des améliorations de la santé mentale et émotionnelle, la concentration, le contrôle de la vessie, la vision et la capacité à mieux résister à la douleur. Le Yoga a été mis en avant pour diminuer la fatigue et augmenter le niveau d’énergie. La fatigue est l’un des symptômes les plus courants de la SEP. En outre, les sujets ont également révélé une meilleure coordination motrice, de meilleures capacités pour marcher sans perdre l’équilibre ou la coordination de l’allure, et l’amélioration de la capacité à se lever à partir d’une position assise.

Pour les personnes atteintes de SEP qui pratiquent le Yoga, l’accent est mis sur :

a) Améliorer la force et la souplesse. Comme les Asanas suivantes : posture de la montagne (Tadasana), les postures des Guerriers (Virabadrasana 1-3), le bateau (Paripurna Navasana), la posture de la chaise (Utkatsana), Angle latéral (Parsvakonasana) et Salutation du soleil (Surya Namaskaram).

b) L’équilibre. Il est toujours conseillé d’utiliser le mur et /ou des accessoires pour garder la stabilité et maintenir l’équilibre dans chaque posture.

c) Mobilité. Commencez toujours par des changements de position lents et précis dans les pratiques posturales, comme une lente salutation de soleil. Prenez une posture et pratiquez différentes variations, y compris en utilisant des blocs, des sangles et d’autres accessoires de Yoga.

En fonction de la gravité des symptômes, les personnes atteintes de SEP peuvent facilement adapter les postures à leur niveau de confort. Les personnes qui ont de la difficulté à tenir une posture de Yoga sans aide peuvent utiliser des briques et d’autres dispositifs d’assistance pour obtenir l’avantage de la posture lorsque la souplesse et d’autres enjeux interfèrent. Les personnes en fauteuil roulant peuvent bénéficier du Yoga sur chaise et d’autres accessoires appropriés qui les aideront à prendre la posture et en bénéficier. Avec un court pranayama et une pratique de méditation (Interview avec Patrice Priya Wagner sur la méditation pour la sclérose en plaques-EN ANGLAIS), le Yoga donne aux personnes atteintes de la SEP des outils d’adaptation qu’ils peuvent utiliser pour le reste de leur vie. Tous les travaux de recherche ainsi que les rapports anecdotiques sont des étapes dans la bonne direction car ils montrent qu’un programme de Yoga est très efficace pour améliorer la qualité de vie des personnes atteintes de SEP.

Rammohan Rao (Ram) vient d’une famille de praticiens ayurvédiques et d’enseignants védiques en Inde remontant à l’illustre Védic-Acharya Rishi Kaundinya (bien que Ram admette qu’il ne peut pas faire le Eka pada ou Dwi pada Kaundinyasana). Titulaire d’un doctorat en neurosciences, Ram a été professeur agrégé de recherche au Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Il s’est concentré sur divers aspects des maladies neurodégénératives associées à l’âge en mettant l’accent sur la maladie d’Alzheimer. En outre, Ram a complété sa formation universitaire au California College of Ayurveda (CCA) et a reçu sa certification en tant que Spécialiste Ayurvédique Clinique. Il a été un membre du corps professoral du California College of Ayurveda et enseigne sur leur site de Nevada City. Ram est également un pratiquant dévoué de Hatha Yoga et un professeur de Yoga enregistré à la Yoga Alliance USA. Dans ses temps libres, il offre des consultations sur les techniques YAMP (Yoga, Ayurveda, Méditation & Pranayama). Ram a publié plusieurs articles dans les grands magazines de yoga/ayurveda et a été conférencier vedette dans plusieurs réunions et colloques nationaux et internationaux. Il est membre de la National Ayurvédique Medical Association (NAMA) et membre du Conseil de recherche de l’Association of Ayurvédique Professionals of North America (AAPNA).

Cet article a été édité par Patrice Priya Wagner, rédacteur du blog Accessible Yoga et membre du conseil d’administration.

* SUIVEZ Accessible Yoga sur FacebookTwitterInstagram, et YouTube.  

* INSCRIVEZ-VOUS ici pour notre prochaine conférence (en anglais)

* DONNEZ ici pour nous aider à apporter le yoga aux personnes qui n’y ont pas ou peu accès, comme les personnes avec un handicap, avec des maladies chroniques, les enfants ayant des besoins spéciaux, et toute personne qui ne se sent pas à l’aise dans un cours de yoga classique.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Mantra: The Most Accessible Yoga Practice Of All

by Hersha Chellaram

Mantra repetition is one of the most accessible yoga techniques and authentic yoga practices, yet it is one of the hardest practices to find in modern yoga studios––aside from an occasional “Om” to begin class. In my twelve plus years of training yoga teachers, I am aware of the aversion to mantras that many students hold. Yet, to deny this part of the practice is counter-intuitive to honouring yoga’s roots, and frankly students are missing out on the wonderful benefits available to them.

Mantra repetition is a rhythmic way to concentrate the mind, preparing it for meditation. A mantra is a Sanskrit word, phrase, or sound structure which carries energetic vibrations, profoundly calms a person’s stress response, and impacts every single cell in the body. Different mantras carry different effects. In exploring mantras in my personal practice over the years, I have seen its significant effects, specifically with teaching yoga to children with special needs. Most of the children resonate to Yoga mantras so profoundly, I had to pay attention.

Ancient languages like Sanskrit carry vibrational significance. Dr. Amy Weintrub, a psychological and yoga therapist, explains in her book “Yoga Skills for Therapists” that, “the very nature of the Sanskrit language seems to be based on a profound understanding of sound. a psychological as well as a physical language. Each letter is the root of a verb and therefore contains within it the energy of all doing and being. The very sounds of Sanskrit mirror their meanings, as do the words themselves. Take for example the word, ‘shanti,’ which means peace. In every culture, the ‘shhh’ sound is used to ask for quiet. Quieting voices, both outer and inner, brings peace.”

Mantra is an effective practice to reduce a person’s stress response. Dr. Luciano Bernardi, professor of internal medicine at the University of Pavia in Italy, found in his study on sound that the “Om Mani Padme Om” mantra in Sanskrit synchronises inherent cardiovascular rhythms and slows respiration to almost six breaths per minute, which activates a person’s parasympathetic response (also known as the relaxation response). Dr. Bernardi’s work demonstrates that chanting does not exclusively belong to Yoga and Sanskrit language only. Chants based on ancient and indigenous languages, such as the “Ave Maria” chant in Latin have this same effect.

Dr. Masaru Emoto is a Japanese scientist who is most famous for his research that involved exposing water samples to various opposing sounds: mantras, prayers, music, words, and voices from all over the world, and then freezing these water samples. Using high-speed photography, Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water revealed changes when specific, concentrated thoughts were directed toward them. Water samples exposed to mantras, prayers, and sacred music and words formed perfect mandala/snowflake-like water crystals. Water exposed to harsh sounds, angry words, and vulgar music developed deformed crystals. If you consider that our bodies are between 70% to 80% water, you might imagine the significant effects that mantras would have on all the cells in your body.

Editor’s note: The validity of Dr Emoto’s findings are under debate within the global scientific community.

Consider your own vibrational frequency––the combination of the music, words, phrases, prayers, songs, and sounds you were exposed to throughout your lifetime. Our brain waves are usually fixed in the automatic “busy-ness” rhythm of modern living. It’s probably why many of us feel a little silly to chant. It literally jars us away from being stuck in our so-called sensibilities.

Children with special needs operate on a higher frequency than the rest of us, it’s probably why they get it. Chanting is a way to connect us. The mind does not need to explain it. As a spiritual seeker, it only makes sense to embrace this easy and accessible practice to elevate your frequency, bring presence of mind, and a pure connection to your own heart and the hearts of others.

 Hersha Chellaram
is a yoga educator and authorised teacher trainer for Integral Yoga and Accessible Yoga. She offers 200-hour, 500-hour, prenatal and children’s yoga training, with an emphasis on working with different abilities and needs. She is founder of YAMA Foundation, a charity that makes yoga, arts and meditation accessible to Hong Kong’s most vulnerable communities. Throughout her teaching career, she has developed and contributed special programs and trainings in Hong Kong, New York, India, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar. Hersha is a pioneer in bringing accessible wellbeing services to Hong Kong. Her knowledge and experience ideally positions her to advocate for disability and women’s rights, diversity and inclusion in wellbeing spaces. Hersha made the list of the 20 Yoga Teachers of Colour to Watch in 2020, and the 2014 Women of Hope Award as Children’s Advocate, presented by the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation.,

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

° FOLLOW Accessible Yoga on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

° REGISTER here for our next conference.

° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Is Your Relaxation Practice Accessible?

by Sarah Garden

When I began teaching yoga I had a student who refused to lie down for Savasana (Corpse Pose used as the relaxation at the end of class). She would always situate herself in the corner of the room and when it came time to relax she would put her back on the wall and keep her eyes open. As a brand new teacher this felt unsettling and strange and it made me feel like I might be doing something wrong. Even though I felt uneasy, I was a new teacher, not to mention a Canadian, and I felt it was impolite to say anything. Two decades later I have done a complete 180 degree turn and now teach what I call a Choose Your Own Adventure-Relaxation.

Choosing your own adventure means a number of different things including choosing what position your body is in or even choosing to position your body outside the classroom or even the studio. This doesn’t mean that relaxation practices are not valuable, even for people who struggle with them, but it does mean prioritizing students’ agency over their own practice.

I work as a yoga therapist and each and every one of my students comes in with their own unique life experience and challenges. Some of those challenges may include pain, anxiety, trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), illness, depression, chronic disease, or any number of other issues. As a result of those challenges some people find breath work very relaxing and others find it very stressful. Some students find the idea of closing their eyes in a room with strangers a great time for a nap and others a nightmare-inducing prospect. This doesn’t just happen in yoga therapy classrooms but in yoga classes everywhere.

The variety of needs in a classroom can sometimes feel overwhelming and leave teachers unsure of what to say, and worried they will say or do the wrong thing.

So how do we cue Savasana, breathing practices, meditation, and other “down regulating” techniques in a room full of people who may all need a different approach to relaxation?

The answer is options. Ask questions and give students a number of different approaches and choices for relaxation. We need to go beyond simply offering different ways to position their bodies or to leave their eyes open or closed. We need to consider any factors that could make a student feel unsafe or unable to down-regulate their nervous system. This may even mean considering asking the student if they feel safe relaxing at all.

This may seem complicated and too difficult for the larger yoga classes you teach. But we all have students who we aren’t reaching in Savasana. We all have students who become more stiff when we start cuing relaxation, who just can’t stop moving, or who just don’t come back to your class because they hate Savasana. Start by getting to know people and creating a space where people feel that asking questions and not following your directions is not only acceptable but encouraged. Then give people options because even relaxation can be an adventure that you and your students can choose.

Sarah Garden
, C-IAYT, ERYT-500, has been a yoga therapist for almost two decades. Through her career, she has developed a thriving local yoga therapy practice, has trained hundreds of yoga teachers locally and nationally, and internationally. Sarah regularly speaks at medical conferences about the benefits of therapeutic yoga as a whole person modality to compliment conventional treatment or to treat when conventional treatment fails. She believes yoga can play a valuable role in the treatment of everything from persistent pain, to cancer treatment and recovery, to women’s health issues. She has forged relationships with many doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other health practitioners to work co-cooperatively to better serve students. Sarah’s passion lies in deepening student’s connection with their body and empowering them to take their health into their own hands with simple accessible yoga and movement practices. Her teachings help students connect with and understand the best practices for their individual body and circumstances. Sarah believes the practice must be co-created with students to meet their needs. @connected_yoga_therapy

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

° FOLLOW Accessible Yoga on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

° REGISTER here for our next conference.

° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

How Yoga Helped Me Transcend Sexual Violence

by Zahabiyah Yamasaki, M.Ed., RYT

Zahabiyah Yamasaki will be presenting at the Accessible Yoga Conference Online, October 9-11, 2020

Energy held in immobility can be transformed...contrary to popular belief, trauma can be healed––in many cases without long hours of therapy; without the painful reliving of memories, and without a continuing reliance on medication.–– Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger

As a survivor of sexual violence, I never imagined the years of disconnect I would feel from my own body. I wasn't prepared for the way my past experiences of trauma would sneak up on me and manifest in various areas of my skin where painful memories still existed.

Sometimes, triggers would brew and create sensations in my limbs, leaving me with a heavy heart and frustration as I looked to bottles of medication or sat in anxiousness at the thought of having to explain these somatic feelings in talk therapy.

I quickly learned that what I needed was something tangible. I needed access to something that allowed me to feel like I could use my body to regain power and control. Yoga entered my life at a time when nothing else made sense.

Yoga became an integral part of my healing journey. I finally had an outlet to process the unsafe feelings that were residing inside of me. I had the choice to move my body in ways that felt comfortable. I gained tools to manage painful experiences. I felt lighter, more grounded, and balanced, and I had a form of self-expression that allowed me to move beyond trying to find the words to articulate what I was feeling.

I finally had control.

It is scary to feel unsafe within the layers of your own skin. This has been a common theme among many of the survivors I have interacted with in my role as Violence Prevention Coordinator at the University of California, Irvine. Students were looking for something to deepen their healing process. I felt compelled to share the gift of yoga with those who were in search of a missing piece along their journey to heal.

I decided to enroll in a 200-hour yoga teacher training and attended a specialized 40-hour training in trauma-sensitive yoga instruction. This training changed my life and sharpened the lens through which I teach. I learned about the importance of teaching from a trauma-informed framework, and it allowed me to create Transcending Sexual Violence through Yoga, a safe and sustainable program that has had a profound impact on survivors.

The program offers Yoga as Healing, an eight-week series that offers survivors a safe space to gain greater awareness around strength, stability, assertiveness, and mindfulness. Classes have different themes, focus on grounding and restorative postures, explore positive affirmations, and are coupled with guided activities including debriefing exercises, journaling, drumming, and art therapy.

Survivors have said that the program has empowered them to report their experience to law enforcement, be intimate again, and have a healthier relationship with their body and food. It has increased their confidence and self-esteem, taught them how to trust themselves and others, and empowered them to seek other resources. One student shared a detailed testimonial that speaks to the need for trauma-sensitive programs throughout the world. For those looking for ideas on how to start a program, the Holistic Healing Service for Survivors White Paper is an incredible resource.

The journey to heal is a lifelong process filled with ebbs and flows, and is not always linear. Most importantly, all survivors don't heal in the same way.

My yogic journey, more than anything, has taught me about the importance of seva, or selfless service. Teaching yoga to survivors in a safe and accessible way is an experience that transcends words. The energy in that room is nothing short of magic. It is a beautiful process to be a part of and I am humbled.

Zabie Yamasaki, M.Ed., RYT is currently the Program Director of Trauma Informed Programs at UCLA and is the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga. Zabie has trained thousands of yoga instructors and mental health professionals and her trauma-informed yoga program and curriculum for survivors is now being implemented at over 25 colleges campuses and agencies including the University of California (UC) system, Stanford, USC, University of Notre Dame, and Johns Hopkins University. Zabie received her undergraduate in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at the UC Irvine and completed her graduate degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs at The George Washington University. Her work has been highlighted on CNN, NBC, and The Huffington Post. She is currently writing the book: Trauma-Informed Yoga for Survivors of Sexual Assault which will be published by W. W. Norton & Company and is expected to be released in 2021. and @transcending_trauma_with_yoga

This post was edited by Patrice Priya Wagner, Managing Editor of Accessible Yoga blog and member of the Board of Directors.

° FOLLOW Accessible Yoga on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

° REGISTER here for our next conference.

° DONATE here to help us bring yoga to people who don't have access or have been underserved, such as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, children with special needs, and anyone who doesn't feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.