Trauma & Yoga Series:
Exploring Power, Privilege & Healing
A seven-part series of workshops presented on the ways that trauma impacts different communities, and the role of yoga in addressing that trauma.
Featuring Sangeeta Vallabhan, Jenn Turner, Nityda Gessel, Hala Khouri, Mei Lai Swan, Kelly Marshall & Jivana Heyman
The Trauma & Yoga Series is an effort to move the conversation forward in the area of yoga and trauma.
The emphasis is on the nuance and complexity of trauma, rather than looking for a one-size-fits-all approach.
Each week we’ll address a different aspect of the ways that trauma impacts specific communities, as well as best practices for sharing yoga in a trauma informed way.
Trauma & Yoga Series: Workshop Outlines
July 5-26, 2022
Live sessions will be held on Zoom Tuesdays & Thursdays
3:30pm-5:30pm PDT (Los Angeles, USA) // 6:30pm-8:30pm EDT (New York, USA)
(Wednesdays & Fridays 8:30am-10:30am AEST, Sydney, AUS)
*All live sessions will be recorded. Captioned replays will be available to access for 1 year
Session 1 - Tuesday July 5th:
Introduction to Yoga & Trauma
with Sangeeta Vallabhan
Trauma is reality within our human experience. Bad things happen all the time, to everyone. Yoga is an entire system of philosophy and practices to help people, as individuals, become sovereign beings. Asana is a somatic practice that can offer individuals relief and cohesion with any other healing modality they are doing. Healing modalities working together are how many individuals suffering from trauma move out of a painful place and into a place where they have more agency within their lives. Asana offers a lot, but yoga, on the whole, can offer so much more. Are we ready to go there?
Session 2 - Thursday July 7th:
The Teacher-Student Relationship
with Hala Khouri
There’s no doubt that yoga can be a powerful tool in healing trauma, and a healthy teacher-student dynamic can help heal relational wounds. However, without a healthy dynamic between the teacher and student, even the most effective tools can cause harm. Clear boundaries, effective communication and understanding concepts like transference and countertransference can allow for a trauma informed teacher-student dynamic that centers the healing and safety of the student and invites the teacher into radical self-awareness and self-care.
This workshop will offer a trauma informed framework for a healthy teacher-student relationship. For teachers, this is vital work in order to be a responsible and ethical space holder. For students, this information can empower you to discern between a teacher who is skillful and safe and one who may cause you harm, whether or not they intend to.
Session 3 - Tuesday July 12th:
Yoga Psychology, Somatic Spirituality, and Race-Based Traumatic Stress
with Nityda Gessel
What is the relationship between race-based traumatic stress, yoga psychology, somatic healing practices and spirituality? This is what we will explore together in mind and body. Nityda will offer participants a working definition of trauma and race-based traumatic stress, and insight around the alchemical nature of somatic and psychospiritual practices both for those who are survivors of race-based traumatic stress and those who are carrying racism and other forms of prejudice in their bodies. While part of this offering is educational and informational, much of this practice will be experiential and contemplative- the answers, afterall, are within.
Session 4 - Thursday July 14th:
The Neurobiology of Trauma and Yoga
with Jenn Turner
The impact of psychological trauma is profound and complex, and can reverberate through the body for years beyond an event. Understanding the ways that trauma plays out in the body can support us as yoga practitioners in better meeting and holding a safer space for those who have endured it. This workshop will offer a concrete and deep understanding of how trauma impacts the body, pulling from research, neuroscience and the lived experience of survivors.
Session 5 - Tuesday July 19th:
Trauma, Identity & Relationships
with Mei Lai Swan
Life is relationship: with ourselves, others, and the world we live in. It’s the quality of these relationships that give us our experience of life. Put simply, wellbeing and trauma are fundamentally experiences of connection and disconnection. In this workshop, we will explore the impacts of trauma and disconnection on our wellbeing and relationships – our human relationships, our relationship with our own body, mind and spirit, and with nature and the world around us. Drawing from trauma therapy, yoga, and earth-based practices, we look at ways to restore connection and transform our sense of identity for our healing and wellbeing.
Session 6 - Thursday July 21st:
Transforming Wellness: Becoming Truly Trauma-Informed
with Kelly Marshall
There is a lot of dialogue shared in wellness communities about becoming trauma-informed through various techniques, theories, and methodologies. Because the wellness world in the United States is situated at the crossroads of privilege and spiritual bypassing, these powerful tools can often miss the mark where it matters most. Join transgender yoga therapist and educator Kelly Marshall in an intimate and vulnerable conversation about the ways we participate in wellness via our personal lived experiences, the intersections of our identities, and how our biased viewpoints are sometimes the biggest barriers to our healing and wholeness.
Session 7 - Tuesday July 26th:
Series Wrap Up: Reflection & Discussion
with Jivana Heyman
In this final session, Jivana Heyman will help to wrap up the Trauma & Yoga Series by looking back over all the previous sessions through reflection and discussion. He'll review essential points that the presenters made, as well as personal reflections on their teachings. This will be an opportunity to digest and assimilate all the diverse views and offerings made during the workshop series, as well as an opportunity for questions and answers regarding how to move forward with greater awareness around trauma and how it can impact our practice and teaching.
Creating Safe(r) Spaces
"I am drawn to this work because I see that we need to fill the gap of how we offer yoga and meditation to people who are suffering in complex ways. Conventional classes don’t always do the trick. We have to find ways to create safe spaces and offer these types of practices in kind and accessible ways."
– Sangeeta Vallabhan
"We are all impacted by stress and trauma. In fact, we are shaped by life’s challenges, and the impact of these challenges. I think of being trauma informed as being “people informed". A framework that asks us to consider the impact of trauma and stress on our actions and words asks us to be cognizant of people's humanity while engaging with them, and values safety and respect as the most important qualities of a teacher."
– Hala Khouri
Meet Your Facilitators
Sangeeta Vallabhan (she/her) has been studying movement since she was young, first through dance and then yoga. She has been teaching yoga in New York City since 2003. She has studied vinyasa, prenatal, restorative, and advanced vinyasa, amongst others. In total she has studied over 1200 hours. She trains teachers at the 200hr and 300hr levels. She has taught yoga nationally and internationally; she has also been featured in Yoga Journal, Health Magazine and other online publications. Since 2013, she has been studying trauma informed yoga with many different teachers. Pursuing these studies enabled her to better face her own experiences with trauma and her recovery has inspired her to help others. In 2019, Sangeeta started training students in trauma informed yoga with her own training, solemarch - a trauma informed yoga teacher training. In 2020, she founded a non-profit, The Practice Coalition, an organization dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence with trauma informed yoga.
Get to know Sangeeta:
Hala Khouri, M.A., SEP, E-RYT (she/her), is a sought-after speaker and trainer on the subject of trauma, embodiment and social justice. She has been teaching yoga and movement for over 25 years and has been doing clinical work and trainings for 15 years. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and an M.A. in Community Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Hala is also trained in Somatic Experiencing, a body-based psychotherapy that helps resolve trauma and its symptoms. Hala is a co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World, a training organization that bridges yoga and activism within a social justice framework and an Adjunct Professor at Pitzer College. She leads trauma informed yoga trainings nationally. She leads a monthly, online membership program called Radical Wellbeing. She is the author of Peace from Anxiety: Get Grounded, Build Resilience and Stay Connected Amidst the Chaos (Shambhala).
Get to know Hala:
Nityda Gessel (she/her), LCSW, E-RYT, is a mother, licensed somatic psychotherapist, trauma specialist, yoga educator, speaker, author, and heart-centered activist, residing on the unceded land of the Chesepian people, commonly known as Virginia Beach, VA. Nityda has devoted her life to uplifting others, working at the intersection of Eastern spirituality, holistic mental health, and embodied activism. She is the founder of the Trauma-Conscious Yoga Institute, creator of The Trauma-Conscious Yoga Method®, and author of forthcoming Norton book on trauma healing and embodied spirituality.
Get to know Nityda:
Jenn Turner (she/her) has had the honor of working with survivors of trauma for all her career. Along with working in private practice as a trauma-informed therapist, Jenn is the Co-Director of the Center for Trauma and Embodiment where she works to oversee training and supports the development of body-first interventions for healing from trauma. Jenn also leads trainings in Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) throughout the U.S, provides consultation to organizations on how to become more trauma informed at all levels. In 2021, Jenn edited the book Embodied Healing: Survivor and Facilitator voices from the practice of Trauma Sensitive Yoga.
Get to know Jenn:
Mei Lai Swan
Born on the unceded Indigenous lands of Australia, Mei Lai Swan (she/her) is the founder of social enterprise yoga school Yoga for Humankind, offering specialized trainings in Trauma-Informed Yoga and Embodied Social Change. Dedicated to the paths of yoga, meditation and community practice for over 20 years, Mei Lai Swan’s approach to yoga is deeply embodied, inclusive and inquiry-based. She is an experienced yoga teacher trainer and certified Embodied Flow facilitator with a professional background in music, community development and social work. Mei Lai specializes in trauma-informed yoga and social justice, somatics and nada yoga. Mei Lai is passionate about building community and making the richness and depth of the yoga teachings and practices accessible, relevant and empowering for every body, heart and mind.
Get to know Mei Lai:
Kelly Marshall (they/them) is a wellness educator and has worked in varying capacities as a massage therapist since 2007; a registered yoga teacher since 2012, and a certified Yoga Therapist since 2016. They specialize in facilitating a safer space for clients and students to reconnect with their bodies and drop into a deeper state of awareness in order to heal. With Transforming Wellness, they offer comprehensive and trauma-informed education for wellness and healthcare practitioners around deconstructing the white capitalistic frameworks of wellness and healthcare. They center forging mutually supportive communities, relationships and structures around the values of intersectional equity, understanding, and cultural humility. They focus upon creating a safer space of healing and empowerment for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ population and those who are addressing trauma, anxiety/depression, body and gender issues, and more.
Get to know Kelly:
Jivana Heyman (he/him), C-IAYT, E-RYT500, is the founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association, an international non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to the yoga teachings. He’s the author of two books, Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body, and Yoga Revolution: Building a Practice of Courage & Compassion (Shambhala Publications).
Jivana coined the phrase, “Accessible Yoga,” over ten years ago, and it has now become the standard appellation for a large cross section of the immense yoga world.
He brought the Accessible Yoga community together for the first time in 2015 for the Accessible Yoga Conference, which has gone on to become a focal point for this movement. Jivana is also the creator of the Accessible Yoga Training and the co-founder of the online Accessible Yoga Training School with Amber Karnes, which is a platform for continued education for yoga teachers in the field of equity and accessibility. They also created the Accessible Yoga Podcast in 2020.
Over the past 25 years, Jivana has led countless yoga teacher training programs around the world, and dedicates his time to supporting yoga teachers who are working to serve communities that are under-represented in traditional yoga spaces.
Get to know Jivana:
Tuition & Payments
Registration closes Monday, July 4th.
Tuition for the training is $225-$345 USD sliding scale.
If you are able to attend at the Supporter or Sustainer Rate, your contributions support the ability to offer a lower rate to community members experiencing financial difficulties. We also offer payment plans as well as a limited number of partial scholarships for this course.
Need a payment plan or scholarship?
The deadline to apply for a partial scholarship for this Trauma & Yoga Series is June 26th, 2022.
Please take a moment to consider the intention of our scholarship program and equity pricing structure, which was created in order to amplify training access for those who hold marginalized identities and those experiencing significant financial hardship. If neither of those qualifications apply to you, we ask you to please consider other payment options, including our payment plans, or supporting others in our community who have decreased access to financial resources by enrolling as a Sustainer or Supporter, if this is accessible to you.