Free trauma-sensitive yoga sessions underway
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 smja[email protected]
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.