Free trauma-sen­si­tive yoga ses­sions un­der­way

The Enquire-Gazette - - News - By HAN­NAH TROYER Staff writer

Those suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and other sim­i­lar men­tal health is­sues will soon have an­other al­ter­na­tive to med­i­ca­tion and ther­apy ses­sions — trauma-sen­si­tive yoga.

Salena Ja­cob, a 200-hour cer­ti­fied yoga in­struc­tor un­der­went yoga train­ing specif­i­cally fo­cused on trauma-sen­si­tive style yoga from Kri­palu Cen­ter for Yoga and Health. Now, she is ready to share the yoga method with vet­er­ans, first re­spon­ders and their fam­i­lies for free.

Ja­cob first heard about trauma-sen­si­tive yoga through the or­ga­ni­za­tion War­riors for Heal­ing.

“(What War­riors for Heal­ing was do­ing) kind of sparked the idea in my mind and then I have al­ways been hear­ing about the statis­tic that 22 vet­er­ans com­mit sui­cide ev­ery day,” Ja­cob said. “That was al­ways some­thing that res­onated a lot with me and was some­thing I wanted to work to im­prove.”

The monthly class — which be­gan April 17 and go from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. — will take place ev­ery third Sun­day of the month for at least a year. The ses­sions will take place at The Happy Yogi in Ful­ton.

For the past few years, re­searchers have been study­ing the ef­fects of the prac­tice of yoga on the brain. At the train­ing ses­sions, Ja­cob was im­pressed by the clin­i­cal re­search show­cas­ing the power of yoga — es­pe­cially with re­gards to men­tal health. Re­search sug­gests that even do­ing yoga ir­reg­u­larly can have pro­found ben­e­fits in im­prov­ing men­tal health is­sues, in­clud­ing PTSD. Though yoga may not work for every­body, Ja­cob be­lieves the prac­tice can of­fer a form of em­pow­er­ment not avail­able through other treat­ment op­tions.

In ad­di­tion to the phys­i­cal and men­tal health ben­e­fits, the yoga ses­sions can of­fer so­cial ben­e­fits as well. Ja­cob said the classes are a good way to meet new peo­ple in the com­mu­nity as well as a good way to spend time with fam­ily.

Ja­cob said the trauma-sen­si­tive yoga classes would dif­fer greatly from reg­u­lar yoga ses­sions. First off, Ja­cob said she will act more as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor rather than an in­struc­tor — “em­pow­er­ing stu­dents to make choices with their prac­tice.” While not ac­tively cor­rect­ing the stu­dents’ mis­takes, Ja­cob will be there to of­fer guid­ance when needed. Ja­cob said this is im­por­tant be­cause those who ex­pe­ri­ence trauma have no choice but to ex­pe­ri­ence the trau­matic sit­u­a­tion where “choice is taken away.”

But, those who at­tend the class can still ex­pect to test their yoga skills just the same.

“The ses­sions won’t be su­per in­tense, but peo­ple can ex­pect a lit­tle bit of ac­tion. There will be dif­fer­ent stretches and mus­cle build­ing, but peo­ple can come in and ex­pect to re­ally make the prac­tice their own” Ja­cob said. “It’s re­ally just an op­por­tu­nity for the peo­ple who come to the class to in­ter­act with their bod­ies in a safe space. I won’t be lead­ing the class. I am there just to of­fer op­tions.”

Ja­cob was quick to note that new­com­ers should give the class a real try as some may be new to yoga and all it in­volves. Not lik­ing yoga her­self ini­tially, Ja­cob ad­vised that peo­ple come to two or three ses­sions to re­ally get ac­quainted with the prac­tice.

“You know, yoga might not be for every­body but give it a try even if you hate it the first time or the sec­ond time,” Ja­cob said. “It can’t hurt to try and all I have is love and that is all I have to give. I en­cour­age peo­ple to come out. It’s a safe space and a good way to meet other peo­ple and a good way to get your body mov­ing.”

With the first class draw­ing near, Ja­cob said she is most look­ing for­ward get­ting to know those in the vet­eran and first re­spon­der com­mu­ni­ties. In fact, Ja­cob even joked about not know­ing any vet­er­ans, but felt like she could make a dif­fer­ence for those in her com­mu­nity.

Though no mil­i­tary back­ground or con­nec­tion, Ja­cob is a daugh­ter of im­mi­grants and is thank­ful to be in Amer­ica and have the op­por­tu­ni­ties she does be­cause there are “peo­ple who pro­tect her free­doms.”

“I am look­ing for­ward to the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — maybe not even ex­plic­itly hear­ing peo­ples sto­ries or any­thing like that. I’m not ex­pect­ing that,” Ja­cob said. “But I am ex­cited to learn and teach in the same space as peo­ple who have served me and the country and I think that is very ex­cit­ing.”

For more in­for­ma­tion or those with ques­tions, con­tact Salena Ja­cob sm­ja­cob92@gmail.com.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Salena Ja­cob, a 200-hour cer­ti­fied yoga in­struc­tor, will be lead­ing trauma-sen­si­tive yoga ses­sions for vet­er­ans, first re­spon­ders and their fam­i­lies once a month at no cost.

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