How do you practice self-careMany survivors that attend Gatehouse programs have mentioned that Yoga is part of their self-care practice. Yoga is a versatile process that has demonstrated effectiveness in helping people feel calmer, grounded and focused. The practice of Yoga may be modified for various levels of experience, from beginner to expert to even incorporating the use of a chair for support.

There are many types of yoga practices.  We connected with a trauma-informed yoga instructor Nicola at Nicola Yoga to talk more about the benefits for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Nicola has personally experienced the healing benefits of yoga as a way to manage and heal body pain.  She highlighted that Trauma Informed Yoga is a strengths-based practice that emphasizes emotional safety and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. 

As many survivors experience a wide array of triggers, especially pertaining to their physical body, it is important for the instructor/practitioner to be able to recognize when participants are in a “triggered” response and to help them through such experiences. Lilly and Hedlund (2010) mentioned that providing participants with different options when engaging in yoga activities is helpful and empowering. They also noted research has found that the following strategies are also beneficial:

  • Grounding. Participants get close to the ground and use their hands to feel the solidness underneath them.
  • Orienting. Help participants to remember where they are at the present moment and that the present moment is safe.
  • Resourcing. Participants draw upon emotional resources of strength and safety (e.g., a favorite song lyric or thoughts of a safe place). These can be developed beforehand for all participants, to be used in the case of triggering.

Nicola emphasized the importance of providing different choices to survivors when engaging in yoga practice. Check out the video interview with Nicola Yoga, Trauma-informed practitioner below. Feel free to share the video on your social networks.

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