Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga Curriculum: Syllabus Overview
“Trauma has a deep and long-lasting effect on the entire organism, from chemical and anatomical changes in the brain, to changes in our body’s physiological systems, to the subjective impact on the experience of a survivor. We believe that treatment for trauma must consider the person as a whole and address the broad-ranging effects of trauma on an individual. This needs to be done through an equal measure of patience, compassion, and gentleness. If we are to help people recover from the insidious violation of their humanity that is trauma, we must be able to offer a varied array of tools to aid in
this task.” - Bessel A. Van Der Kolk, MD
Memories of sexually violent experiences can be intrusive, which can create challenges for survivors. These memories can also make it difficult for survivors who are looking to establish connection in their lives and learn how to trust again. The entire experience of practicing trauma-informed yoga, can help survivors find union between seemingly disconnected and challenging aspects of the self; allowing participants to slowly build the pieces into an integrated whole.
Regardless of the nature of the traumatic incident, survivors may suffer from the physical pain and emotional unrest that have permeated their lived experience long after the incident(s) of trauma occurred. 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 trauma-informed yoga can help survivors establish safety and resource their body in a way that feels authentic, manageable, and unique to their needs.
Trauma impacts all areas of human functioning: the physical, mental, behavioral, social, and spiritual. So often, the impact of trauma is somatic. Survivors often times experience flashbacks, dis-regulated breathing, anxiety, depression, insomnia, GI issues, migraines, and many more. As a result, trauma treatment must consider the person as a whole. In yoga terms, trauma can elicit "vasanas" which are emotional imprints in the body that often times become deep rooted, hardwired, and lodged in various areas of the body depending on the nature of the trauma. These vasanas can impact the nervous system, the endocrine system, and our physiology and cause a variety of trauma symptoms, dissociation, physical pain, and illness when left undigested (Amy Wheeler). By working to heal the body, we can create a critical pathway to safety and embodiment for our clients.
This comprehensive training will provide yoga teachers, mental health professionals, or anyone interested in teaching from a trauma-informed lens with all of the necessary tools to create a safe environment for survivors of sexual trauma:
Opening: Creating Safety and Introduction to the Training
Lecture 1: The Brain, the Nervous System, and our Capacity to Heal Trauma through Yoga
Lecture 2: Comprehensive Considerations for Teaching and Understanding Trauma-Informed Yoga
Lecture 3: An Overview of Therapeutic Yoga Techniques for Trauma Survivors
Lecture 4: How to Build, Implement, and Launch a Trauma-Informed Yoga Program for Survivors
Lecture 5: Teaching Trauma-Informed Meditation and the Impact of Trauma on the Chakras
Lecture 6: Yoga Teacher Collaborations with Mental Health Professionals
Lecture 7: An 8-week Self-Paced Yoga as Healing Series for Survivors
What you get:
- 7 lectures on trauma-informed yoga
- Access to 8 audio recordings of themed trauma-informed yoga classes + mini lectures to support integrating concepts off the mat
- Comprehensive 200 page+ trauma-informed yoga resource guide with all relevant materials to implement a comprehensive, holistic, integrated, and sustainable program
- An overview of the evidence-based research in support of trauma-informed yoga practices
- An introduction to the neurobiology of trauma and the intersection of yoga
- An explanation of the unique experiences of sexual assault survivors and benefits of holistic healing
- Introduction to trauma-informed practices and language
- A thorough overview of trauma-informed teaching dynamics and core considerations, including:
- Empowerment-based Language
- Integration of Choices
- Supportive Presence
- The Art of Assisting
- Safety and Space
- Invitation of Postures
- Breath and Trauma
- Themes and Philosophy Integration
- Cultural Considerations and Accessibility
- Tips for starting a yoga program for survivors of sexual trauma, including:
- How to create buy-in from a university/agency
- The power of collaborations
- Working with mental health professionals
- Identifying your audience
- Building a curriculum
- Group structure
- Assessment and liability
- Share your Story
- The Business of Yoga
- Opportunities to connect online with other teachers in your training cohort
This training will leave you fully equipped to start a comprehensive trauma-informed yoga program for survivors of trauma.
For survivors interested in just the 8-week Self-Paced Yoga as Healing Series:
This program specifically focuses on self-acceptance and self-compassion and provides survivors with tangible benefits that may become noticeable throughout their practice. This gradual integration can be transformational and healing for survivors. This program provides the opportunity for survivors to:
- Access to 8 audio recordings of themed trauma-informed yoga classes
- Find peace and healing through trauma-informed yoga practice
- Exercise the choices they have to move their body in ways that feel comfortable
- Learn to establish connection to self, trust others, and strengthen relationships
- Establish safety and stability in the body
- Tap into inner strength and build skills and positive coping mechanisms for managing painful experiences
- Regain power and control through mindful movements and reconnection to the body
Yoga provides a safe and accessible way for survivors to explore their healing internally and uncovers layers of pain to get to the core of who they have always been. It offers them a beautiful form of expression that moves beyond trying to find the words to articulate how they feel. These inward experiences of healing on the yoga mat can elicit positive outcomes and tangible skills that survivors may have been working on for years in cognitive therapy to achieve. Past participants have shared that they were empowered to report to the police what had happened to them because they felt strong and stable in their bodies, others were able to be intimate again with a partner because they felt they could assertively communicate their boundaries, and many participants have shared their ability to take control of their binge eating because they no longer needed to have control in an unhealthy way.
Survivors have also shared that the yoga as healing program increased their confidence and self-esteem, helped them learn how to trust themselves and others, allowed them to develop a strong sense of community, helped them incorporate self-care strategies, and empowered them to seek other resources.
The course explores the following themes over an 8-week series:
Class 1: Intention and Orientation
Class 2: Safety
Class 3: Self-Care
Class 4: Boundaries
Class 5: Assertiveness
Class 6: Strength
Class 7: Trust
Class 8: Acceptance + Self-Love
The course is self-paced so students can identify an 8-week time frame and practice once a week or practice multiple times per week, the choice is completely individual. I opted to do audio/podcast recordings of the yoga classes so students could be guided intuitively by what feels best in their bodies. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.
Please note that this training does not replace formal treatment. If you are in crisis, please consider contacting the free and confidential National Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline for immediate support, local resources and options at 1-800-656-4673, visiting their online chatroom for support, or calling 911.
Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga is not liable for injuries or any course outcomes. Students will be asked to complete a waiver before accessing the course materials.
Full Course Reading Recommendations:
Please note these are not required for the course but I have included a list of my go-to resources:
- Yoga for Emotional Balance, bo Forbes
- Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness by David Treleaven
- Trauma and the Body, Pat Ogden
- Attachment-Based Yoga and Meditation for Trauma Recovery by Deidra Fay
- Meditations for Healing Trauma, Louanne Davis
- Yoga for Trauma Recovery, Lisa Danylchuck
- Survivors on the Yoga Mat, Becky Thompson
- The Power of Breathwork, Jennifer Patterson
- How to Breathe, Ashley Neese
- Accessible Yoga, Jivana Heyman
- Skill in Action, Michelle Cassandra Johnson
- The Inner Work of Racial Justice, Rhonda V. McGee
- My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem
- Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve, Stanley Rosenberg
- Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, Peter Levine
- Emotional Yoga, Bija Bennett
- Yoga Skills for Therapists, Amy Weintraub
- The iRest Program for Healing PTSD: A Proven Effective Approach to Using Yoga Nidra Meditation and Deep Relaxation Techniques to Overcome Trauma, Richard C. Miller, PhD
- Mindfulness Skills for Trauma and PTSD: Practices for Recovery and Resilience by Rachel Goldsmith Turow
- Yoga for Grief and Loss: Poses- Meditation- Devotion- Self-Reflection- Selfless Acts- Ritual, Karla Helbert
- Mindfulness Therapy Workbook for Clinicians and Clients, C. Alexander Simpkins, Ph.D., and Annellen M. Simpkins, Ph.D.
- Mindfulness Oriented Interventions for Trauma: Integrating Contemplative Practices
- The Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma by Naomi Ardea
- The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk
Cost per individual lecture (includes access to selected lecture and corresponding lecture worksheets in resource manual): $125
Cost for 8-week survivor series: $180
Full online training package (See full breakdown above; Includes all lectures, comprehensive resource manual, unlimited access to training materials, and bonus of 8 sample trauma-informed yoga classes as a part of an 8-week series for survivors of sexual assault): $650
Instructor Contact Information:
E-mail: [email protected]
Facebook: Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga
Having the opportunity to transform her own trauma through the practice of yoga, Zabie Yamasaki, truly believes in the healing power of asana practice. For years, Zabie's unwavering support for survivors of sexual trauma has manifested itself in many forms. She has ultimately made it her life's goal to help empower survivors of assault to regain their strength and self-worth. She is extremely passionate about yoga and its ability to help individuals connect to their emotions, be present on the mat, develop peace of mind, and take the necessary steps to become their most true, authentic self.
Zabie received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at the University of California, Irvine. She has a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs at The George Washington University. Zabie received her 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate through Core Power Yoga and attended a 40-hour workshop on trauma-sensitive yoga instruction through the Justice Resource Institute at the Kriplau Center for Yoga and Health.
During her graduate career, Zabie engaged in numerous efforts to help prevent sexual assault through her campus role as the Coordinator of Sexual Violence Prevention. Zabie was previously the Assistant Director of UC Irvine Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) where she developed an 8-week therapeutic yoga program for survivors of sexual assault. She is now working as the Program Director of Trauma-Informed Programs at UCLA where she oversees the Yoga as Healing program for survivors across each of the UC campuses. She is a founding individual practitioner of The Breathe Network, an organization that connects survivors of sexual violence to holistic healing arts practitioners that offer all services on a sliding scale. She is the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga, an organization with the mission of empowering survivors to heal through the practice of yoga. Her organization offers group and private trauma-informed yoga classes for survivors, trauma-informed yoga trainings, consultation for colleges and agencies interested in implementing yoga therapy programs, and mentoring for yoga instructors.
Zabie consistently advocates for the rights of survivors and works tirelessly to help these individuals find healing. She is widely recognized for her hard work and dedication to her field. She has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum which is now being implemented at:
- Stanford University
- Johns Hopkins University
- University of Southern California (USC)
- Occidental College
- California State University, Long Beach
- California State University, Fullerton
- UC Irvine
- UC Santa Barbara
- UC Merced
- UC Berkeley
- UC Riverside
- UC Davis
- UC San Francisco
- University of San Francisco
- East Los Angeles Women's Center
- Center for Pacific Asian Families
- Community Service Programs (CSP) Rape Crisis Center
She was recently awarded the Victim Service Award in Orange County for the impact of her yoga program on survivors in the sexual assault and human trafficking unit. Her work has been highlighted on CNN, NBC News, the Huffington Post, OC Register, Elephant Journal, and in a variety of online publications.
It has been her dream to fuse her worlds together, creating a space where survivors can heal by flowing breath to movement through trauma-informed practice.By focusing on a holistic approach, Zabie is helping to change the way our world responds to trauma and provides support to survivors at various stages in their healing.