Welcome to the accessible yoga Podcast where we explore how to make space for everyone in the yoga community.
Amber Karnes 10:12:23
This podcast is brought to you by the accessible yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Hi, I'm your host, Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are here in him, and I serve as the director of accessible yoga.
Amber Karnes 10:12:37
And I'm your co host, Amber Karnes, my pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the accessible yoga board of directors.
Hi, everyone. Welcome back. This is Jivana. And I'm very excited today to have a special guest today. Nityda Gesell. Hi. Hi. Hi. Thanks so much for being here. nitida is a licensed psychotherapist, and experienced registered yoga teacher and trauma conscious yoga educator and the founder of the trauma conscious yoga Institute. Is that right? That's correct. Yep. I'm so excited about talking to you. Just I don't know it was a couple months ago. And you're going to be teaching as part of the accessible yoga schools, trauma and yoga series. But I was really excited that you could speak to us today, focusing I want to focus on our topic of yoga for sexual trauma. But I thought first, we could just hear more about your work. I wonder if you could kind of tell us about how you got started. Maybe I read that you're a ballet dancer. Is that right?
Nityda Gessel 10:13:42
Yeah. I was. And that's actually how I got. It's all related to how I came to yoga and how I actually ended up doing the work. I do so. So yeah, I can share a little bit about that. Yeah, yeah. So I started training as a dancer when I was young, like in elementary school. And it was my outlet. So I'm a survivor, I'm a trauma survivor, have been survived various types of trauma over the years. And there was some trauma in my childhood that I didn't even recognize at the time was trauma took me a long time to really identify it as that. But what I did recognize, even as a young person was that dancing was an outlet for me. It was a way for me to express myself emotionally. And what I realized it was doing for me now is that it was helping me to metabolize and discharge trauma that I was experiencing as a kid. And I never knew that, but that's what it was, for me. It became everything for me. It became a part of my identity. And I knew that I wanted to dance professionally. And I was a ballet dancer, you know, so it was a very disciplined kind of bubble ballet that I that I was in. And I went to performing arts high school.
My aunt was a professional ballerina way back, she was really well known. Her name is Allegra Kent. And she was like, you know,
Nityda Gessel 10:15:24
We'll have to talk about that more later.
She was incredible, like back in the day. So I definitely saw like what you're talking about, you know, the kind of, I think ballet is maybe the most misunderstood, like, I don't know what you call it, art that exists. I mean, it's really such a athletic endeavor, but people think of it like, Oh, it's just dance, and it's just, it's so intense.
Unknown Speaker 10:15:53
It's incredibly intense. I mean, I would come home, you know, as a 13 year old with bloody toes. Yeah. And I would, you know, I would, I'm gonna give a little activation warning now, because as I'm sharing my story, you know, as a trauma survivor, there, there is triggering that could happen for people. So I want to go ahead and give that activation warning now and invite people to take care of themselves and pause if they need to. What I was going to say was, you know, I remember thinking in high school, that my feet weren't good enough because I was told that they weren't valid and so it is just really weird kind of just separate world where there's certain things that matter a lot that nobody else in the world actually cares about, like your feet and there's a certain arch that you need to have in order to have quote, good feet, and I didn't have that. I mean, I was almost flat footed, which is like unspeakable in the ballet world. You get a lot of you get a lot of shit. I don't know if I can curse.
Be my guest.
Unknown Speaker 10:17:03
You get a lot of you know, a lot of shit for not having quote unquote Good Feet. So I remember putting my feet in this foot stretcher and sleeping with my feet and a foot stretcher overnight. You know, and, and waking up and almost feeling like my ankle couldn't move. And it was kind of scary. I did like kind of slowly move my ankles, because I had over stretched my feet through the night. And, you know, I share that to say that there was trauma happening for me. I didn't recognize what's happening. But there was a message that I perceived quite often. And sometimes it was spoken rather explicitly that I wasn't good enough, you know, so. So anyways, you know, there was a lot of trauma I was experiencing. But both within and outside of dance, but at the same time dance was like my outlet to metabolize some of that. So it was this interesting, kind of conflicted relationship. But ended up dancing like semi professionally and professionally, with a couple of different companies. I was no like, or can't, that's what I did a little bit, you know, yeah. And I actually stopped dancing, when I recognize that an eating disorder that I had was just totally out of hand. And a colleague of mine actually brought it to my attention. And I was like, You know what, you're right. And it was a bit of a wake up call that I had very abruptly. And I just recognized, I couldn't keep living like this, I wasn't going to keep doing this to myself, that, you know, there was healing that was possible for me. And that would lead to a happier Kinder existence. And I was interested in that. So for me, I had to stop dancing in order to really separate from the maladaptive behavior. Right, the eating disorder was just a symptom of unresolved trauma. Yeah. I found yoga. Yeah, go ahead.
I was gonna say that the ballet world has a lot of that it's very, very challenging. So you found yoga then, right, to support yourself with your shield?
Unknown Speaker 10:19:18
Yeah. And ironically, you know, I shared that I'm a survivor. But you know, in that interim between, there was a very short interim between leaving the dance world, like, intentionally the fatty and I was gonna stop and finding yoga, but during that interim, I actually did experience some sexual trauma. So there was more trauma that was happening, right. And empire, probably because emphasis in no way to say the trauma was my fault. But you know, I was very disconnected from myself, from my truth. And even from my body as a dancer, I was very disconnected. So, you know, so I was carrying all of that, but I was, I was a seeker by nature. And by that I mean, like a spiritual seeker. And I was really invested in doing some work and doing some deep work. And I wanted to become a therapist, I had wanted to become a therapist for a long time, like, I thought I would dance until I couldn't dance anymore. And then I would go to school and being a psychologist, that was my plan. But interestingly enough, I also never found talk therapy, as helpful as I wanted it to be so. So basically, I when I left the dance world, I was in college, and I had a couple more credits to finish up and I decided I wanted to get into yoga. I actually had no interest in the asana or the physical movement, because my body had already done so much of that in the dance. And I actually, we've talked about this before you and I grew up in a home with a Raja yogi, and Buddhist as a father. He actually doesn't he never called himself a Buddhist. But he, he studied Buddhism, and he studied Raja yoga, meaning that he focused on the yoga sutras and he meditated daily. So I was exposed to all of this as a kid, but neither one of my parents never really invited us to get into spiritual practice with them. My mom, identified as a Christian, my father, you know, practice yoga and studied Buddhism, but they never really made us or even encouraged us to do any of the things they were doing, which left it kind of open for us to find it on our own, which I appreciate. But, but yeah, but I was, but I remember the impact that the meditation and the chanting had on my dad, I was just really curious about that. And so when I decided to sign up for a yoga class at my university, I was really most interested in like the philosophy and the meditation and the breathing because I was really anxious. And the asana was a part of it, but it was all great. You know, it was three days a week and healing was happening like right away something He felt like home about it. And I think it's because it didn't take long for me to really land in my body and be embodied in a way I hadn't before. And so I recognize that home was actually in me. That's beautiful.
And so but it wasn't through the asanas. And you found that because you're there was so interesting when you said that you were not that interested in the US in asana practice because you already so in into physical movement with dance, because I think most people think that dancers go to yoga for that asana practice, and it's it's not true. I mean, it's not really true. yoga has much more. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 10:22:53
yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it's, it's interesting. I had a dance teacher in high school who she would lead us through sun salutations as a part of our warm up on stage performance. And I had a little bit of exposure to Bikram yoga, you know, because of a very I would say, self masochistic roommate of mine, at one point, you know, was very determined to go to Bikram constantly. And I went with her a couple of times. But, but yeah, for me, it wasn't, it wasn't that I was like anti Asana. But that wasn't what I was wanting, I was wanting the other aspects of the practice. And it just so happened that Asana, you know, did come with it, because it was a university class. And, you know, but the asana was beneficial, too, because it was all it's all connected. And it all empowered me to just cultivate a different relationship with myself. And I found self compassion that I had never known before.
That's beautiful. And so you basically were becoming, you're studying psychotherapy in school, and practicing yoga for yourself. And I guess it just seemed obvious to bring them together. Is that what you figured out?
Unknown Speaker 10:24:18
Yeah, that's a great question. It did, because the healing was happening. And, and like I said, I was very aware of the fact that talk therapy was not the only thing, right. And I recognized how healing yoga was for me. And I, I saw yoga as a form of therapy. So my intention right away my idea, or you know, not that I'm the only one to have done this. Especially not at this point in time as many people who integrate the two, but my thought was like, I'm going to combine these two. And I went on to yoga teacher training. Right away, I hadn't even been practicing for a year before I kind of accidentally landed in a yoga teacher training. And I taught for a while, actually, before I ended up going into graduate school. And when I did, then I became a licensed social worker, eventually a licensed clinical social worker. So now I'm in private practice. And, I mean, today, the work I do is, I call myself a somatic psychotherapist, which means that the somatic is related to the body. So we're not just talking. A somatic psychotherapist is someone who sees the value and really necessity of supporting people and being with what's showing up for them within their bodies. So connecting to the body, having a conversation with the body, even moving the body. Yeah, and yoga can be a beautiful part of that, even in the psychotherapy setting.
Can you say more about that? Like? I'm just curious about? How, how do you use yoga in your practice? So if you're coming, if you have a client who's coming to for therapy, do you use yoga? Do you use raja yoga, yoga philosophy? Or do you actually do asanas with them?
Unknown Speaker 10:26:16
That's a great question. I do all of it. I do all of it. And I train other people to do the same thing. That's part of the work I do I train other therapists but but yeah, so for instance. So my style is whenever someone comes in for any session, and I explain this on the very first session, offered that at the very beginning of session, we do some pranyama together, this is a way to drop in. So with every client at the very beginning, we might do pranayama, there's all these, there's always choice, right? Because I specialize in trauma, so I'm very much about choice. So the client can always accept or decline the invitation to practice pranayama. And in other times, it may look something like it may look like let's see, a client is kind of deign to a part of themselves in their body. You know, maybe maybe we're talking about the client's tendency to be a people pleaser, right? And so A somatic psychotherapist, I might support the client in connecting to that people pleasing part of them in their body and getting to know it and how it shows up, and where it comes from, and what it needs. And sometimes when a client connects to a part of the body, it may want them to move. And so sometimes on viden intuitive movement, offer that the client move with the body in the way that the body is asking them to. And then sometimes a client just doesn't want to do a lot of talking at all, like they're just tired, we might just get on the floor and do some restorative postures are even some more even sun salutations, if there's a lot of anxiety or energy to mobilize. And then a couple other examples are for example, mudras, you know, gestures we take with our hands can be very supportive to clients, for different reasons. And then the philosophy I kind of integrate always, all the time without thinking about it. Is this may resonate with you probably will resonate with you, it's like, once you study the philosophy of yoga so much, it becomes a part of you, and you embody it. So it's kind of always there in the room. But I may actually more explicitly introduce yogic or even like Buddhist concepts within therapy, for example, like beginner's mind, which is a Buddhist concept of, hey, let's slow down. And let's approach the by from this, this attitude of beginner's mind, right? Because a lot of the times when people go to their bodies, there's a lot of judgment, there's a lot of thinking they already know a thing about the body. So yeah, so those are some examples.
Yeah, that's really interesting. I mean, yoga therapist, but I feel like it's so interesting to look at kind of the scope of practice and the techniques that would be used by someone who's like a psychotherapist versus a yoga therapist versus a yoga teacher, you know, and especially dealing with someone who has, who presents with trauma and is trying to address that in a session, whether it's one on one or group. Yeah, I just wonder if you have more thoughts about that, like, I know, because I know, you also trained yoga teachers.
Nityda Gessel 10:29:28
Yeah. More thoughts about the differences?
Because I just, I guess, specifically, maybe in your work, you could talk about how is it different when you work with a client? I mean, you're training other therapists to integrate yoga in their practice versus supporting yoga teachers to address people the trauma and like not, not allowing yoga teachers to cross that boundary where they're actually becoming therapists.
Unknown Speaker 10:29:56
Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. This is a good question. Okay, I can answer this. Yeah. So. So in the trainings, I believe in the training, I lead, it's called the trauma conscious yoga method, which does introduce some Somatic Experiencing and somatic therapy, teachings, while also being available to yoga teachers, and not people who are all clinicians. I offer a parallel process. So a lot of the training, it's, it's not just like, how do you work with survivors in a supportive way? But how can you heal the parts of you that have been waiting for you, you know, that you have maybe repressed or ignored or you just don't even know they're there? Right? Because one of the things I offer is that our wounds lead us to this work. And that's a very powerful thing, right? We all do the work we do, because there's some type of personal resonance, right? And so usually people that want to work with trauma survivors, or them themselves survivors. I'm an example of that, right? So. But the the, the tendency can be, is that because we are so close to the material that we're working with, because we're also a survivor, it's very easy to project our own stuff on to the people we're working with. Or let's say, for example, right, let's say somebody has that people pleasing part of themselves, Well, how does that show up when you're working with people that you're wanting to help? Right? Because sometimes that can look like you wanting people to perform for you, right? Or you're trying to perform for somebody or get a certain reaction out of them. Right? And that can be unconscious to us, but it can be harmful to the people we're working with who we actually do really want to help. So, you know, yoga is a journey of bringing darkness to light, and it's a journey of sweaty yoga or self study. So, first and foremost, the training I offer. It's about self study, like let's get to know what we're holding. What, what we could still work on what we could heal. And so for yoga teachers and clinicians and anyone that's very valuable. So that's one you know, and when it comes to scope of practice, we go over scope of practice. similar training because it's true as a yoga teacher, unless you are a clinician, your scope of practice is not to provide therapy, right? It's not to do too much in that realm. But you know, if there's a part of you that tends to want to cross that line, well, if we're doing self study, you can get to know that part of you. Why is it that you're crossing that line? You know, why is it that you're, you know, kind of dancing on that fragile line between, you know, this is it within my scope, and this is with without my scope. So that's one example.
That's good. I mean, scope of practice is so important. And I, I just know, I used to train yoga therapists, and I've been training yoga teachers for a long time. And just there's a lot of difference there. There's a lot of difference within the scope of practice for a yoga teacher who may only have 200 hours of training versus a yoga therapist who probably has at least 1000 hours. Oh, yeah. Done with a therapist with a psychotherapist. It's like on another level, you know, that's really a medical provider, because a yoga therapist is not a medical provider, really. We're still, you know, our work as yoga therapist is just around teaching yoga and sharing yoga, can get more involved with someone's past history. And medical history as a yoga therapist and yoga teacher might.
Unknown Speaker 10:33:38
Right, right, yeah, yeah. And so So yeah, being very explicit about scope of practice is huge. And in the trainings I lead, there tend to be more clinicians in the room. However, for the people who are in the room who are, I mean, sometimes there's body workers, or like school teachers, and yoga teachers, and yoga therapists, you know, everyone's attending all the same lectures. So having the exposure to some of the lectures, there's a couple of lectures that may feel more clinical, or more geared toward the clinicians. What I've witnessed is that the yoga teachers and those who are not clinicians still get something out of that, you know, because they're learning a lot about themselves through the process, while also recognizing that's not necessarily what they're doing the clients. But for the yoga teachers, we go over, you know, how trauma shows up in the body, how prevalent trauma is, right, as a yoga teacher, you are, for sure, working with survivors in your class, and you're for sure, working with survivors of sexual trauma, because unfortunately, sexual trauma is so common, and it happens and manifests in so many different ways. We're always working with it. So it's important to be aware of that, you know, and then we go over, like, you know, it's not, it's not about do this, don't do this, even though we may, we may go over, you know, some suggestions around what we probably would want to do differently, or be more conscious of when we're working with survivors, you know, but yoga teachers basically can think about how they're delivering their teachings, in a way that is, I mean, ultimately offering dignity and respect and autonomy and agency, to the people that they're teaching.
Yeah, I appreciate that. Because, you know, to me, it feels like the theme and all trauma. You know, your trauma conscious or trauma sensitive yoga seems to be around power and, and agency and shifting the power dynamics. So that it's not about the normal hierarchy that we would see in a yoga class where the teacher has authority and power, and the student doesn't rather switch that because trauma may be just and can be reinforced by that same dynamic. So in a more conscious classroom, you're trying to create a more equitable relationship between teacher and student. And this, it's been interesting to me, because I always, I mean, to me, this is what accessible yoga is about, you know, I have been studying more trauma recently. And I just feel like accessible yoga is kind of based on the idea that people have trauma already that people have disability and trauma and issues that you just can't see. And no and at the heart of yoga is about really giving people agency like you said, which is, which is like the basic philosophy, right, that we all have this essence, this power within us that we're trying to reconnect with. So it feels like it's like teaching in alignment with what yoga says.
Unknown Speaker 10:36:58
Do you know what I mean? Right, right. Yeah, yeah, yoga is a pathway for liberation. Right. So that's when we be free when people are, you know, demanding that we do things their way, you know, which is, you know, it's ironic I think it's important to mention that there's been a lot of abuse in the yoga world. You know, and I mean, yoga was, you know, first written about over a millennia ago, maybe not that long ago, probably orally taught over a millennia ago. But, you know, first written about in the Rigveda, 1000s and 1000s of years ago, you know, and was taught in a very different way back then. And, you know, as you know, yoga as it's come to the West has inherited some of the post colonial problems, right, and the the energy of gurus or teachers who have actually sexually abused their students. So sometimes, when people go to teacher trainings, what they are getting, the way that they're taught to teach is in a very authoritarian way, a very demanding way. A very, what could be exploitive way? You know, some people are taught to teach in their teacher trainings, you know, to think of themselves as the authority and the students as students. And so that's what accessible yoga and that's what trauma conscious yoga, seeks to dismantle is to reclaim yoga as a path to liberation, where everyone is seen for their humanity and for their divinity, you know, and everyone is treated with respect and given the power to have agency over their experience.
Yeah, that's beautifully said. Thank you. Could you give some? Well, I want to talk ask you two things. One is to talk generally about, you know, the benefits of yoga for people who've had sexual trauma or trauma in general. But also, I'm curious about specific tips you have for yoga teacher, so I don't know where you'd want to start.
Unknown Speaker 10:39:12
Yeah, yeah, let's go for it. Go with the benefits and then the tip. Okay. Yeah. So at the benefits, there's so many I could be here for a long time. But I'll start with this. You know, as a spiritual practice, yoga, is a pathway for awakening, you know, like we said, it's a pathway for liberation, it's a pathway for really returning to our true nature. So, no, within yoga, it's taught within the scriptures, you know, in many traditions of yoga, there's an understanding that we are born connected to our true nature, like we remember the truth, but it's not long before, you know, it's not long after our birth, that we, we get bombarded with the projections of the people around us. And we start to house those projections in our bodies, and our vision becomes obscured by this veil. Some people call it a veil of illusion, you know, you know, but we kind of lose connection to our own truth, our own true nature and our own intricate interconnectedness with all things and all beings. And so yoga as a pathway to remembering our truth is in then in correct, I would say direct alignment with the pathway of trauma healing, which is also about remembering our truth and our true nature, because trauma, you know, those projections that get bombarded on to us, as it's taught in the yogic scriptures. I mean, those projections are trauma, right, we are met with the the leftover trauma from our ancestors and the trauma that our parents haven't metabolized, and the systemic trauma imparted by society, all of that is placed on us, and we internalize that and we have it in our bodies. And so trauma healing involves returning to our true nature. So
can I just interrupt for a second? So you're talking about systemic, like, race based trauma, which are other kinds of genetic trauma that's passed down? The generations? That's a specialty of yours. I just want to mention that.
Unknown Speaker 10:41:29
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, thank you for seeking clarification. Because yeah, systemic trauma is huge. It impacts everything. It impacts how we can access resources and the aftermath of sexual trauma or whether we don't have access to resources, you know, so it's a, if we're not looking at systemic trauma for me, we're not actually looking at the whole picture. You know, so. So yeah, what was I talking about again?
Well, you're talking about how you know you made a really beautiful connection between yoga spiritual practice connecting with our truth and healing from trauma as the same kind of connecting with our authentic self that may have been have disrupted through the, through trauma.
Unknown Speaker 10:42:19
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the pathways are really one, in my opinion. So if we're looking to reclaim our truth in the, you know, in the aftermath of trauma, and in the process of trauma recovery, yoga then provides this beautiful pathway to help us do that. So, so that's one, and then you know, on a more neurobiological framework, trauma is held in the body, when when we experience trauma, our prefrontal lobe is offline. So that's the rational logic, thinking part of our brain, that part is offline, right, so so just talking about trauma, talking about trauma can can bring relief to some people, like they'll, they'll experience relief in the aftermath, or, you know, talking about it, but um, to really resolve trauma fully, it needs to be metabolized from the body, because we store it in our tissues, we store it in our muscles, we store it in our, our nervous system reactivity. So the asana, and the pranayama. And the embodied philosophy of yoga actually provide a beautiful opportunity to connect to the body in a mindful conscious way, and do some of that, that work. And you don't always have to know what the trauma was to metabolize it from your body. And what I mean by that is, you know, sometimes there's sexual abuse that happens way early in childhood. That mean, there's there's trauma that happens in the womb, when we're in utero. And obviously, there's intergenerational trauma that, you know, we're carrying from our ancestors. So we don't have to know exactly what it was that happened. We don't have to have a story for it, or a narrative for it, necessarily to free it from the body. And so yoga offers an opportunity for that.
That's awesome. And it's important to I feel like because I think sometimes, if people can't identify a specific cause, or story, it's almost like it's just their fault. And you know what I mean? Like, it almost feels like, without a story, it's harder to, I don't know, like, conceptualize or heal, maybe, if that makes sense. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 10:44:38
yeah, some people, you know, find relief and in knowing the story, you know, but also, if there's a part of someone that has to have a story, like in therapy, I would help someone explore that part of themselves. Because we can't have a story for everything. Like, again, if there's trauma that happened when we were pre verbal, you know, that we just can't access with conscious memory. It's still being held in our body, but it's hard to have a story for it. I mean, what we can do is we can write a new story, though, you know, we can write a new story around, you know, how this wasn't our fault. And this isn't our identity. This isn't who we are, we are more than our trauma. You know, but we don't have to remember exactly what happened in order to heal it.
Right. That's important. Thank you. So So I mean, like you said, there's kind of endless benefits to using yoga for sexual trauma, but it seems like or for trauma in general and sexual trauma in particular. I wonder if you could talk about that. Is there something particular about sexual trauma that yoga is helpful for do you think?
Unknown Speaker 10:45:51
Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. I think, you know, the impact of sexual trauma is, is just huge, right? Because there's so many, there's so many just horrific things that happen in the world. And it's not to compare and say that any type of trauma is worse or better, you know, that would be silly than others, you know, but there's just something about sexual trauma that is such an extreme violation. You know, that the practice of yoga, this journey of self discovery, returning to our truth is just incredibly powerful. And also from a chakra perspective. Well, sexual trauma impacts all the seven you know, main chakras that we talked about in yoga. But particularly, you know, thinking about like the second chakra, which is where the sex organs are, and the hips right that we do hippo hip openers, that's a second chakra and also the, the heart chakra, you know, because there's a lot of grief in the aftermath. And the throat chakra Because oftentimes, trauma in general, you know, involves us not having a voice but there's something you know again, very palpable about sexual trauma in this, the significance of it, you know, and that's not having a voice. And I could go into more, I'm thinking about things, but I don't want to trigger people too much. I know. So there's something about being able to move through these channels in the body, and open them up and access them. You know, because the way we hold on to sexual trauma in our bodies, it creates a lot of tightness, it creates a lot of fear in the muscles, particularly in the chakras that I mentioned, it creates just a lot of dis ease. So yoga asanas, in particular, and pranayama, like moving energy through the body are just incredibly powerful. It's approach from a conscious way, you know, and when you're teaching yoga, you know, it's got to be approached from a conscious way, where you're really honoring what the person is ready for?
Well, so let's Can we skip to that, then? Do you have any advice for yoga teachers, you know, specific things that they could do to make their classes more trauma conscious.
Unknown Speaker 10:48:23
Mm hmm. I mean, one thing, and this is what I teach in my trainings is do your own work, I invite you to, to do your own work. Because when we choose to teach from a trauma conscious lens, it cannot be about us. And it cannot be about our own ego. And, and what I mean is that, and yoga teachers are very well intentioned, usually like very, as a group of people, very warm, loving, open people. So it's not to villainize yoga teachers, obviously. But we're human. And when we first get into teaching, a lot of the times, it's about us, that's why we get into it for us. Because yoga has been meaningful to us, or it could be a cool way for us to make money. And again, if we took a 200 hour yoga teacher training, where we were told that we get to have power over people, whether that was offered to us explicitly, or maybe more implicitly, we may show up to teach in a way where we are really embodying that are disembodied in that right where the authority, so really can be about us and what I mean, here's an example. When I first started teaching yoga, I wasn't teaching trauma informed yoga, I was teaching the way I learned how to teach. And, you know, I had been a dancer. So I love teaching, vinyasa classes that were super creative. Like the most creative, crazy flow, you're doing all you doing backflips, basically, to rock star here, you know, such and such their splits here, like, but the people I was teaching at the time, loved that. I was teaching and cleans, you know, we're teaching and cleans and all these artists would come to the class and it was this a wild class, but it was about me it was about like, what type of creative sequence can I give this week to please these people? You know, how can I kick their ass this week? You know?
Well, it's performance in their way. Right? It's like another kind of
Unknown Speaker 10:50:23
performance. Yeah, it's very performative. Right? Yeah, that's, that's a great word. Yeah. Um, and when I started to teach in a trauma conscious way, it's not that I had to lose my creativity at all, but I had to shift my priorities. My priority is what do the people right in front of me need right now, knowing I mean, the challenge is for yoga teachers, you might have 20 people in the classroom, you don't know their story, as a therapist, you know, their story, right? You don't know their story. You don't know what people have been through more than likely. So you, you want to be incredibly conscious. Just teach as though somebody in that room has survived horrific sexual trauma, honestly. Because more than likely somebody has. And we think we know what trauma survivors look like. But we don't you somebody can be so well put together, have a crazy successful career, you know, walk into your yoga class before they change and be wearing like the most expensive designer clothes. And you might think one thing about them and never know that they respect traffic as a child, right? You just you don't know. So, so part of it is just understanding that sexual trauma is so common and trauma in general. And honestly, in my perspective, we're all survivors, all of us because trauma is not just like the big major events, it's the small things too. And so, offering choice, offering invitation invitations to do things, you know, it doesn't mean you have to start every sequence with I invite you to
Can I ask them about that? Because I did hear A concern teacher told me that there was a very experienced teacher who said that they're noticing that newer yoga teachers don't even know what to say anymore, because they're just afraid to say anything. And they're just, you know, like hesitant with all their words and their direction.
Unknown Speaker 10:52:34
Just want to be and I think that's good. I think that's good. Because like, things are shifting. But yeah, then it gets confusing. So that comes up in my training a lot from the yoga teachers, like, if you're a yoga teacher who teaches, felt like you're teaching a sun salutation? What are you supposed to say, I invite you to lift your arms up, I invite you to fold forward in how I invite you to step your right foot, you know, I invite you to chat around it. Like it's not about, you know, it's not about that checklist, like do this don't do this. It's about what is the overall environment? What's the overall vibe you're creating? Right? Are you creating a vibe or an environment of choice of safety? Or are you creating an environment of like, you know, power, you know, for lack of a
better word, I just want to like, I just wanted to say that again, because I just, I am so grateful to you for sharing that message. And I think it's been lost, you know, in all the details. It's kind of how people, we it seems like we get obsessed with the details and lose track of that issue around power. It's about power. Right?
Unknown Speaker 10:53:41
Right. Right. It's about show up, like the Buddha would show up. Show up with compassion, show up with compassion, show up with generosity show patients show up with metta loving kindness, show up with, you know, an ego less experience like not not, you know, moving from your ego. And that's why doing your own work is so important. You know, it's really about how you show up. Yeah. And everybody has that kind, wise, loving self within them. So it's about tapping into that. When you teach.
Yeah, I mean, I actually just writing about this, because I'm a little obsessed with this idea. But I think it's exactly what it is, is that teaching is a practice. And if you approach teaching as a practice, that's, then it's what you described, which is that you have to do your work to really reflect on, how are you showing up? Are you are you conscious of your issues, you don't have to solve them, but you're conscious of them by like, how they might show up within a class or any kind of situation where you have authority, I think it's then really, really important that you're you have an extra burden, you know, as a teacher, to have done some of that work,
Unknown Speaker 10:54:58
right? Mm hmm. I like the way you phrased that. Yeah. Yeah, you have an extra burden, or even like incentive or, you know, responsibility to have a responsibility.
Yeah. Yay. Wow. Thank you. This is so awesome. I don't know, did you have more you want to share? It's, there's so much there. And I'm just so grateful to you. And again, I, I'm excited for our talk. This summer, you know, your talk, you're going to be talking at that trauma and yoga series at the accessible yoga school. And this is exactly what I was hoping to focus on over there. And I'm just excited to hear that. Anything else you want to share about this? And maybe about your work and how people can find you?
Unknown Speaker 10:55:42
Sure, yeah, I think we covered a lot. It feels that too much. I think it was it was just right. So I think this is a good place to kind of pause and invite you know, people to, to take some time to check in with themselves. And, and so yeah, I've enjoyed our talk so much, and I'm happy to share how people can stay in touch. So if you're interested in learning more about what I do, you can visit my website, which is trauma conscious yoga.com. And on the website, you will see the training that I offer listed, we are still in the process of getting our 2022 and 2023, like full calendar up. But we are offering some in person trainings coming up. And we have I have a live virtual training in July as well as an on demand training. That's always up and it's all the same trauma conscious yoga methods certification. And this will be played in April. So the bundle that I'm doing with Zabie, Yamasaki will still be going on so people may know Zabie Yamasaki, who just wrote a book trauma informed yoga for survivors of sexual assault and her business is transcending sexual trauma through yoga. So once a year, we offer our two courses together so people can get a discount on them. So right now samādhi and I are offering that yeah, it's In the past, we do coaching calls together for people that sign up and yeah,
he's also doing a workshop for us, by the way. So for accessible yoga people can go and check out. I'll put a link in the show notes for Well, for the website for your website and your training. But also for the workshop that's obvious offering through accessible yoga in April.
Unknown Speaker 10:57:38
That's awesome. Yeah, she's great. And yeah, you know, people can follow me on social media on Instagram. I'll just give maybe I'll just give you that information. You can share it. And yeah, you can stay tuned. I just wrote a book. I don't have the date that the date that it comes out yet, but I'll have that soon. And it's a book on embodiment, trauma, healing and spirituality.
Unknown Speaker 10:58:07
Have you back when the book comes out? Okay.
Unknown Speaker 10:58:13
That'd be fun. Yeah, that'd be fun.
Thank you so much for all this. And yeah, I'll put all that in the show notes. And yeah, I appreciate your time and what you shared with us today. Really? Awesome.
Unknown Speaker 10:58:26
Yeah, thank you so much. And I appreciate everyone who listens and I just want to send you love and peace on your healing journey.
Thank you so much. All right. Thanks, Jivana. Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Amber Karnes 10:58:44
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs, including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website. You can also learn more about how to become an accessible yoga ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
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Amber Karnes 10:59:03
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you'd like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai