Category: Training

40-Hour Sexual Violence Crisis Intervention Training with the YWCA

In March of this year I completed 40 hours of training in sexual violence crisis intervention through the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, the largest Illinois provider of services to sexual assault survivors. I’ve trained separately in trauma informed yoga, including the Breathe Network’s Sexual Violence, Yoga and Resilience training, and took this training to prepare to teach yoga at the YWCA or any other rape crisis center. (In contrast to the YMCA, which I think nowadays is primarily known for group fitness classes, the YWCA focuses on eliminating racism, economic empowerment and counseling/other services related to sexual assault and domestic violence).


This 40-hour training is primarily intended for those who will go on to serve as rape crisis hotline volunteers, or medical advocates, who (offer to) accompany survivors through the hospital visit. If you are interested in volunteering in these capacities – reach out to the YWCA! The volunteers I met in training were amazing and inspiring. While the training is not specific to yoga, it is excellent for any yoga teacher who wishes to work with sexual violence survivors (there is a different 40-hour training focused on domestic violence)…and I’d say any yoga teacher at all, as there’s a big chance most public classes include survivors.


Read on to find out 8 ways this training is relevant to yoga classes, both public or specific to survivors.


Directory – Trauma Informed Yoga Trainings / Yoga Service Trainings

This directory represents a culmination of much time, effort and data entry! My experience is that yoga teachers are very interested in yoga service and trauma informed yoga, and do sometimes have a (limited) budget to pay for trauma informed yoga training – but very often don’t know where to start. Start here!
  • What’s included in the directory?

The database currently includes a large number of yoga service trainings in the United States (as well as a few abroad); it’s open to all at no cost through 7/30/2017. From 8/1/2017 on, you can gain access to the directory by joining Share Your Practice as an individual or organizational member.

Each listing includes the name of the yoga service organization offering the training, the main website link, the name/date/location of the training, the main community served, and in most cases, the cost and number of hours of the training. I do not charge or take payment to include trainings in the directory. I aim to include trainings organized by established yoga service non-profits and most often Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Units will be awarded for participation.
  • What can I search for?
The directory is currently an Excel spreadsheet shared via Google Drive / Google Sheets. After many hours trying to set up a Caspio searchable database, my account was deleted due to misinformation about the free account option. Just like any Excel spreadsheet, you can click on a category (community served) and sort A-Z to see trainings on similar themes (trauma; youth) grouped in order. Email and I’ll share the “view only” version of the spreadsheet via Google Drive. It’s possible you may need a gmail account to do this.
I do my best to remove past trainings; viewing past trainings can still be informative in estimating when or where additional trainings may occur. Of course it is best to reach out directly to the individual organization with any questions!
  • Where does this information come from? Is it reliable?
I gather and update information on yoga service trainings via websites and newsletters to the best of my ability… on top of a full-time yoga teaching schedule and a number of yoga service classes.  I am currently in the process of reaching out to all yoga service organizations included, but am not necessarily in direct contact with each provider.  Any mistakes are my own.  If you are a staff member of a yoga service organization and would like to confirm the info I have on the training gathered from your website, or have a training I have not yet included, please email me at
Inclusion in the database is obviously not an exact science, nor do I charge organizations to be included. If for any reason your organization prefers not to be included, let me know and I’m happy to remove the information. In general, I follow organizations with a focus on yoga service and/or trauma informed yoga. Both yoga service and trauma informed yoga are broad categories which different practitioners approach differently – I certainly haven’t attended all of these trainings, and can’t claim that they all reflect my own views on these topics, or, obviously, yours. Interested participants should investigate details of any training independently.  If you have experience with one of these trainings and would like to share feedback, please email me at

YSC 2017: Cultural Competency

I attended a breakout session on cultural competency at the Yoga Service Conference in May. I looked forward to it because I care about this topic a lot, and because plenty of my students are people of color.

A very specific topic sparked my initiative to share my thoughts. Then, I found myself needing to write another whole blog post on cultural competency in general, in large part so I could be more sure people would not think I was a racist. After that, one more. This post is the fourth! I share this now not because I feel like I’ve finally said it perfectly, or covered all there is, but because I really think this same sort of concern (I don’t want people to think I’m racist!) prevents a lot of valuable conversation on this topic.
One aspect of the conference and the session was that we want to be mindful of respecting the privacy of people within each session. Know that I’m limiting some of what I say in order to hold to that. One comment, though, worth sharing specifically, came from one of the presenters, that we need not only “safe spaces” to discuss, but “brave spaces”. In that spirit, of all the possible topics to write about, I’ve written about these:


Continue reading “YSC 2017: Cultural Competency”

Cultural Competency: Points from the Breakout Workshop

I participated in a Yoga Service Conference session entitled Best Practices for Cultural Competency and came away with a lot of thoughts! What I think loved the most about this session is that it made me think – and write, on my own, later! – excessively, rather than list notes during the talk. I think this speaks to both the value of this session as well as the talent of these speakers as educators in a general sense.
It’s challenging to try to summarize what was presented on a topic which is potentially very sensitive – it’s also my goal to maintain the privacy of individuals who participated alongside me. It’s probably best to read this post as what I came away with and am sharing, keeping in mind that my focus may differ from what the presenters intended, and that I am omitting some information in order to keep the confidentiality of the group.
Professor of Journalism Tamara Jeffries, and Dr. Santiba Campbell, Professor of Psychology, framed their presentation in terms of their experience bringing a for-credit yoga class to Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Bennett is a small, private historically black college. They were explicit that this was their experience, in a specific setting, which was distinct from some of the various settings yoga service teachers may work in.  I thought it still made a lot of sense to have a very specific starting point to serve as a context, rather than speaking only in generalities.

Continue reading “Cultural Competency: Points from the Breakout Workshop”

Cultural Competency…not enough?

I’m white and it’s rare that I perceive someone to be reacting to me differently in a negative way because of my race (I wrote about one unusual comment more than a year ago here). It’s very likely that people DO react to me differently because of my race – but since I’m white, it’s in a positive direction that I perhaps take for granted.
When it may seem that I’m being treated in a negative way due to my race, it’s obviously painful. I can’t change my race. I care about making our society kinder and more inclusive and I like to think of myself as on the same “side” as people of color – it hurts to feel I’m being grouped with the white people I’d consider racist. So what to make of it? I won’t pretend my answer is right for everyone, and of course my perspective has evolved,  even somewhat since I wrote the post linked above last year.
I can’t read minds –  I could be wrong.
I could be mistaken that someone is making a judgement based on appearance. In her workshop on facilitation, Dr. Melody Moore touched on the concept of projection – assuming a person feels x because *I* feel x.. Personally, I DO feel guilt or at the very least unease regarding this country’s poor treatment of people of color. It’s possible that because *I* feel personal guilt, I assume that in a given setting a person of color considers me personally guilty –  even if they don’t.
What if I’m right?

Continue reading “Cultural Competency…not enough?”

Do I talk about trauma in my trauma informed yoga classes?

Mostly, no.

Trauma informed yoga means different things to different people – my definition of trauma-informed yoga is yoga that is informed with info on trauma (how a traditional class might trigger to trauma survivors) to make it feel safer and friendlier to trauma survivors, and to the extent that I can, I bring this perspective into all of my classes.  I have come across instructors who make a distinction between “trauma sensitive yoga class” and “trauma specific yoga class”, which may also be a helpful way to consider the topic.

My trauma informed classes don’t focus on trauma. One of the most awesome benefits of yoga, in my opinion at least, is that the physical practice and breathe are incredibly powerful tools without the addition of words.  There are other modalities, therapies (some would call these “treatments” though I don’t think of yoga as a treatment), that focus on talking and words; many people benefit from these, and people are free to seek them out.  I offer yoga to those who want to try out something that is not focused on talking (and mostly don’t encourage my students to talk either).

My training (and/or How do you lead group therapy? I do not have the answer…) Continue reading “Do I talk about trauma in my trauma informed yoga classes?”

Yoga Service Conference 2017: Sessions to look forward to

I’ll be traveling to Rhinebeck, New York to Omega for the 2017 Yoga Service Conference in May. I’ve been involved in yoga service work for a while, and founded Share Your Practice in 2015. People approach this work in so many different ways. I’m excited to meet new people and encounter new ideas to add to my existing mental inventory of yoga service knowledge!

I’ll be blogging while I’m there, but also in advance, first focusing on the sessions I’ll be attending, my thoughts on these topics now, and what I hope to learn. I’ll follow up during and after. What do you want to know about yoga service, and about these topics? What questions do you have, and what experience can you share?
Friday, May 19
Saturday, May 20
 Sunday, May 21
  • Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There: The Transformative Power of Stillness & Its Role in Yoga Service (Gail Parker)
  • Changing the Paradigm of Self Care From Individual Act to Communal Covenant (Leslie Booker and Teo Drake)
Special Mention
I worked under Yoga founder Jasmine Chehrazi and this session has officially been cancelled, but I’m hopeful it will be fit in at another point in the weekend! It was 🙂 My takeaways.
**These are just the sessions I’ll be attending – there are others at the same times! Time permitting I’d love to share info on these sessions and perhaps link up with others attending those to exchange info.

Can yoga be harmful?

Can yoga cause harm? Many yoga teachers, and in particular those who teach trauma informed yoga, want to share this practice specifically BECAUSE it has felt so healing to us. Causing harm is often the last thing on our minds.
People – students and teachers of yoga – are of course different. The thing that serves one person so well, the practice that is so healing to one person, may be the opposite for someone else. It’s hard to know what could be triggering for a trauma survivor. So should you just give up on trying to inform yourself to avoid harm?
No! Trauma informed yoga may sound like a new and perhaps even unnecessary addition to the practice of yoga, with its long history, but as human beings we are constantly learning, and have the opportunity to infuse our practices with new knowledge. Opening up our minds to the possibility that even well-intentioned work can cause harm allows us to at least consider the possibilities of how, and to take steps to avoid it.
Most 200-hour yoga teacher trainings address well the idea of preventing physical harm with attention to anatomy, sequencing, and cueing, so that’s not a focus here…how else can yoga cause harm in a trauma-informed context?
Being triggered
Being triggered can mean something in the present environment (words, touch, sounds, a smell) bringing a trauma survivor back to back to vivid impression of the traumatic experience, or a flashback. More than “just” a bad memory, this implies experiencing at least some of the same physical sensations and thoughts as during the initial traumatic event.

Continue reading “Can yoga be harmful?”

What’s the cost of trauma informed yoga training?

It’s an investment, not a cost!

If you are looking into trauma informed yoga training, you are likely realizing that training to offer your services on a volunteer basis also costs money.

What does it cost?

While many organizations offer yoga services to underserved groups at low cost or no cost, there is almost always a cost affiliated with the training. Most 3-5 day intensive trainings range from $200-500.

It can initially be disorienting to think of paying for a training so you can volunteer. Ultimately, you support the important work of these organizations by investing your funds to train. Many trauma informed teachers see it as a responsibility to get trained on trauma as one means to minimize the possibility of causing harm….it also makes sense to ask, “What’s the cost of NOT getting training?” (Can yoga cause harm?)

How can you reduce this cost?

Continue reading “What’s the cost of trauma informed yoga training?”

Training: Eat Breathe Thrive / Module One: Yoga, Food & Body Image Intensive

I spent the last few months as a local Chicago ambassador for Eat Breathe Thrive, raising awareness about the Chicago Module One training among yoga teachers, students of yoga, and professionals in relevant fields. In this 3-day training, participants experience parts of Eat Breathe Thrive’s community program – both as participants as as teachers who might bring some of these practices into their public classes. (Module Two training is available to those who’d like to go on to officially offer the 6-week series on their own on behalf of Eat Breathe Thrive).

To cap it all off I got to participate in Module One of this experiential training with a really lovely group of other yogis and teachers.

As someone who has dealt with a lot of food and body image issues, this was an interesting experience.  The interactive portions were both fascinating and hard for me. In some respects, I’ve come a long way. I wear yoga clothes to teach every day; I don’t spend hours a day focused on my size or engage in extreme strategies to lose weight.  Still, I found it challenging to talk openly about my past and current experience with these issues, even in this incredibly supportive environment. Many of us have work to do in this space.

I’ve participated in other yoga service trainings, albeit some a long time ago. Here’s what stood out to me about Eat Breathe Thrive’s training:


I felt a strong connection to the other participants was strong, and that surprised me. We did community-building activities and, for lack of a better word, GAMES, that were just plain fun! Trauma, eating disorders and yoga service are serious topics and while lots of the training obviously spoke to that, part of Eat Breathe Thrive’s philosophy is that community plays a role in healing. Taking part in group activities allowed me to experience this connection first hand. Talking about disordered eating and body image all weekend could easily get overwhelming – getting to know the others through fun, collaborative activities helped strike a balance.

Additional, more specific training and support as an option in Module Two to set up your own community program:  Continue reading “Training: Eat Breathe Thrive / Module One: Yoga, Food & Body Image Intensive”