“Breathing and moving really struck me as therapeutic, but I wasn’t really sure how or why that was until I started learning more about trauma and its effects on the body,” says Julie.
Toni Richter (MSW, LCSW) and Julie Eagan (founder, Yoga for Healing) are two Yoga Buzz teacher training graduates with a passion for sharing trauma-sensitive yoga in St. Louis.
As a social worker, Toni spent countless hours engaging residents at a shelter for survivors of domestic violence in talk therapy. “No matter how much talking I was doing with residents, intellectually they could understand what was happening. And yet there were very body-based reactions that were happening,” Toni shares. She brought yoga to the group one night, and saw an impact after just one session. “That’s when I decided that I needed to incorporate the body and the felt sensations, not just talk therapy.”
Qualities of a trauma-sensitive yoga practice typically include no hands-on assists, invitational language, plenty of choice for each shape that is offered, and teachers who have been trained to understand the impact of trauma and chronic stress on the nervous system. Being trauma-sensitive in one’s approach means the recognition that no two people will have exactly the same needs, triggers, or preferences – rather, it is acknowledging that everyone is different. Therefore, while there are suggested protocols for best practices with specific populations who have experienced trauma (i.e. Veterans, survivors of sexual assault, children in foster care/adoptive services), there is no one way to teach a “perfect” trauma-sensitive yoga practice.
Being trauma-sensitive in one’s approach means the recognition that no two people will have exactly the same needs, triggers, or preferences – rather, it is acknowledging that everyone is different.
Yoga Buzz’s 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program prioritizes the discussion of trauma-sensitive practices, so that our graduates understand the prevalence and impact of trauma. This knowledge supports their role as teacher in a yoga setting, and also informs their perspective of the world off of the yoga mat. This training sets a foundation for understanding, and for teachers like Julie and Toni who are especially passionate about working specifically with populations who have experienced trauma, there are additional trainings that dive deeper into that work.
Toni and Julie both completed a weekend intensive training with Trauma Center’s Trauma-Sensitive Yoga last year after completing their 200-hour with Yoga Buzz in 2018. Julie has also completed Yoga as Healing, a training from Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga with Zabie Yamasaki.
Since Yoga Buzz announced our commitment to creating a trauma-informed St. Louis yoga community in 2017, we have educated over 250 individuals on the impact of trauma and the importance of understanding that within the world of yoga. While we haven’t completed everything that was on our wishlist at the time, we are continuously blown away by the work of our graduates, local studios, healthcare professionals, and passionate yogis to advocate for the integration of this knowledge both into the mainstream yoga world and non-yoga environments.
If you are interested in catching a class or workshop with Toni or Julie, here’s what you need to know:
Toni teaches an all-levels Hatha Flow on Saturdays 11am at Shanti Yoga in Maplewood.
Are you a yoga teacher interested in learning how to incorporate trauma-sensitive practices into your classes? Julie will also be leading the workshop Trauma Sensitivity in the Yoga Studio at Shanti Yoga on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Toni and Julie have also written an 8-week Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Series for Women. If you’re interested in learning more when the next session is announced, email Julie ([email protected]).
Check out our interview with Julie and Toni!