How is a trauma informed yoga class different from a public yoga class? How would a yoga teacher get training in trauma-informed yoga and set up a class with a non-profit?
This 2-hour event starts with a short trauma-informed yoga practice. I’ll share my experience in this field and my take on the above questions, using the practice as a reference point and example. My perspective is that of yoga teacher, and accordingly the talk is aimed at yoga teachers/trainees, but anyone with an interest in the topic can practice and participate. Ideal for yoga studios looking to raise awareness of trauma-informed yoga among staff or for teacher trainees as they learn about hands-on assists or additional opportunities to do service through yoga.
Space requirements: enough floor space for the group to lay yoga mats down and practice; space that can be used exclusively for the event for the full two hours (without other clients or staff passing through the space, peering in, etc.).
Time requirement: two hours; if desired, we an add more time and incorporate an interactive group discussion and readings.
Pricing: please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss affordable rates. This event helps support the free trauma-informed yoga classes offered by Share Your Practice in Chicago.
Find feedback on past events here.
Note that this is a yoga practice and an informal talk on trauma-informed yoga, based on my participation in approximately 60 hours of continuing yoga education in trauma-informed yoga and my administrative work for a yoga non-profit. This is not itself a training in trauma-informed yoga. This talk will help participants decide their own best path for training or further educating themselves on this topic.
I am a yoga teacher – not a psychologist or social worker or yoga therapist. Yoga teachers definitely CAN become informed about trauma and trauma-sensitive practices without being social workers or psychologists, and can make public or private classes safer and friendlier to trauma survivors …making a yoga class trauma-informed is different from treating mental health conditions. Any public class most likely already includes trauma survivors without any effort on the teacher’s part to gather them.
I’m Kate, and I love yoga. I started practicing in 2009, and completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training in 2014. Vinyasa flow and power vinyasa were the styles that initially spoke to me the most (why?!). Teaching yoga is now my main work – I teach public classes at studios, a gym and a park district. I’ve been teaching a weekly free community class I set up independently in a library since early 2015, and another library class approximately every other week. Both are in neighborhoods that lack the variety of yoga options on offer in more central locations. I started teaching in Cook County Jail near the end of 2016.
Through a past job with a yoga non-profit in DC, prior to becoming a yoga teacher, I worked to set up yoga outreach classes with non-profits, and also attended training such as Street Yoga, Prison Yoga, and Yoga for Homeless & In-Recovery Communities. In Chicago I’ve participated in two Breathe Network trainings focused on survivors of sexual violence.
Outside yoga: I studied sociology and have a master’s in international communication. I spent about 5 years each living in Eastern Europe and then Washington, DC, and am now back in the area I grew up in – Chicago. I’ve done a lot of different jobs! I don’t run as much as I used to, but running has been a great thing in my life, particularly volunteering with Back on My Feet – a non-profit that partners with homeless shelters in a number of cities to host a running program.
My favorite pose is chapasana, half moon with a bind! I am still working on headstand away from the wall. I love dogs. And cooking.
Disclaimer: This class was set up and is taught by the author of this blog. I may not be totally unbiased!
What is the class like? It’s a gentle vinyasa class where we coordinate movement and breath, and it’s intended to be welcoming to all, accommodating for beginners, and accessible to those with some physical limitations. I completed my teacher training at Core Power Yoga, but this is not a power yoga class.
Participants should be comfortable sitting on the ground and rising up to a seat – if you have questions about your ability to do yoga, check with your doctor. Chairs are available if you want to take a break, or to sit and join in with the arm movements from a seated position.
We begin at 9am and finish by 10am. Please arrive at 9am to properly warm up with the group. New students fill out a few forms and a post-class survey. The class is free! Mats are available for use but if you have your own, please bring it.
Why the library?
Community: people coming together to practice yoga without an exchange of money.
Accessibility: offering yoga to people who are interested but unable to pay what yoga studios charge, or for whom, for distance or other reasons, attending class at a yoga studio is not feasible.
Open to all:
There are individuals and organizations that offer yoga on the premises of specific non-profit organizations, for the clients of that organization. This is a great service as well. Library classes are potentially available to anyone from the public – clients of those same non-profits, and also members of the general public. Plenty of people in Chicago earn enough money to be above the cut off for public or private assistance, but still cannot afford $18-23 for a single yoga class.
Free to set up:
Libraries are public spaces where motivated yoga teachers can potentially organize classes without paying for use of the space. Other community organizations may charge a fee for use of the space, or may require attendees to be members or pay a fee. Libraries do of course have procedures to follow (insurance related, etc.) and rules about use of the space (no money exchanged, etc) – but these are a small price to pay for a serene and welcoming yoga space!
Share Your Practice is a resource for yoga teachers and others on sharing trauma-informed yoga in non-profit settings. Yoga can be a tremendous tool for self-care and stress relief, and not everyone has equal access to this resource.
Typically (but not always) this means yoga outside a studio / gym / private lesson setting. Typically (but not always) the people who benefit are underserved in some way – maybe trauma survivors who are also low-income, maybe residents of homeless shelters, maybe people who live in neighborhoods that are plagued by violence and have few public yoga classes available.
Share Your Practice shares articles on the benefits of yoga in such settings, information on non-profits engaged in this work, and interviews with teachers offering yoga in this way. I also hope to share my own thoughts and experiences and spark discussion on this under-covered topic.
I am certainly not an authority on this topic nor on teaching yoga! But my long-term interest in this work motivates me to start this project and connect others who are similarly inspired.