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The Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Yoga Classes

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Celebrating five years of service, the nonprofit Exhale to Inhale brings free, trauma-informed yoga classes to rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters in New York and California.

First it was her mother. Then it was a friend in college. And another friend. And another friend. As each person told Zoë LePage her experience of domestic or sexual violence, she was moved by the survivors. “I was furious that my loved ones had gone through this—that someone had violated them like this and made them feel less than. I wanted to create space for them and other individuals who had similar experiences, so they could do the work of healing,” she says.

Then, in her senior year of college, LePage’s women’s leadership–studies program tasked her with finding a way to change the world. She knew it needed to address trauma from sexual and domestic assaults.

See also How to Work with Yoga Students Who’ve Experienced Trauma

LePage thought about how much yoga had helped her with anxiety and depression between high school and college. “Yoga gave me a sense of strength and stability that nothing else could provide,” says LePage, who completed her first yoga teacher training in 2009. Hoping yoga would have the same effect on survivors, LePage founded Exhale to Inhale (ETI) in 2013, to bring free yoga classes to people who’d experienced trauma.

The name of the nonprofit organization comes from a quote her yoga teacher Jodie Rufty would say: “Sometimes you need to let go of that which is no longer serving you in order to fill yourself back up.” LePage explains, “In my mind, that translated into, ‘You need to exhale in order to inhale.’”

Exhale toInhale founder, Zoë LePage

See also 5 Ways to Use Your Yoga Practice to Help You Deal With Trauma

ETI yoga instructors visit domestic and sexual violence shelters and rape crisis and community centers to teach free, trauma-informed yoga classes to the survivors and staff there. What a class looks like: The lights remain on, there is no music, everyone is oriented to face the entry and exit point of the room, and the instructor stays on her mat or in her chair. “Part of that method is so that the students have someone to copy, and part of it is easing the anxiety of students who may be hypervigilant. The idea of someone coming up behind them or there being someone they need to track as they walk around the room is a distraction,” she says.

Instructors also use invitational language. “We want our students to have the experience of noticing the sensations in their body and making choices based on that,” LePage says. So teachers use phrases like, “I invite you to try…” and “This is option A; this is option B. Or you can choose none of the above.”

See also Sarah Platt-Finger’s Self-Care Practice for Survivors of Sexual Assault

This empowers students and helps them reconnect to their bodies in a positive way. “For someone who has experienced trauma, her body has been violated. You do not feel safe in it or you feel disconnected from it,” LePage says. “We hold space for people to be present in the moment, to connect to how their bodies move in space, and to recognize how those movements make them feel emotionally and physically. When our students begin to experience this, they may slowly incorporate that new way of being into their everyday lives so they can create the lives they want.” 



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Fashion & Beauty

The Best Clothing for Meditation: 17 Soft, Loose, and Super-Comfy Picks at Every Price

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In fact, these clothes are so happy-making, you’ll never want to take them off.

Are you wondering what to wear for your meditation practice? Yoga Journal selected the best clothing for meditation—including pants, shirts, and socks—for optimal comfort.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned meditator, you know that meditation is a lot harder than it looks. Focusing on your breath or a mantra and quieting monkey-mind is serious business—and on days when your thoughts get the better of you, it can be easy to fidget. Maybe your foot gets itchy where the seam of your sock hits your pinky toe, or you start to fidget with your shirt. Or, perhaps you start to focus on the too-tight waist band of your yoga pants, or the fact that your undies are bunched in all the wrong places.

See also How Much Will You Spend on Yoga Pants?

While fidgeting is a natural side effect of a meditation practice, particularly when you’re first starting out, you can set yourself up for less of it by meditating in the right clothing. Here, our favorite bottoms, tops, and socks to keep you cozy—and most importantly, supremely comfy—while you meditate.



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Ayurveda

This Kundalini Yoga Sequence Will Make Conceiving a Little Easier

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Conceiving a child is a miracle. This Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Learn how this Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Conceiving a child is a miracle. Sometimes it can take time and nurturing for pregnancy to occur. Kundalini Yoga is a wonderful tool for conscious conception for both men and women. It integrates the spiritual, energetic, conscious, and unconscious aspects of a person, as well as strengthens the nervous system, balances the hormonal system, and energizes the muscles, organs, and joints of the physical body.

While all of the chakras come into play, it is essential to have a balanced second chakra in order for healthy conception to happen. Many men and women feel as though they are running on adrenaline, weakening their sexuality, sensuality, sensitivity, and emotional well-being. They lose touch with the natural balance that comes from aligning with the creative embrace of the universe.

See also A Sequence to Help You Feel Strong and Secure

Here are four Kundalini Yoga practices that help rebalance the second chakra so that creative expression and our natural, robust fertility are aligned with the ripe possibility of conception. These exercises work for both men and women, helping them to open, allow, and drop their resistance to the natural creativity of the universe flowing through them.

About the Author

Teacher and model Karena Virginia is a Kundalini Yoga teacher based near New York City. She is the coauthor of Essential Kundalini Yoga. Learn more at karenavirginia.com

STUDY WITH KARENA

Join Karena for a unique, six-week online course on the incredibly powerful practices that Kundalini Yoga has to offer. Learn more at yogajournal.com/kundalini101.

Excerpted from Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential, by Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa. Sounds True, February 2017. Reprinted with permission.



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Ayurveda

This Kundalini Yoga Sequence Will Make Concieving a Little Easier

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Conceiving a child is a miracle. This Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Learn how this Kundalini practice rebalances the second chakra for the possibility of conception.

Conceiving a child is a miracle. Sometimes it can take time and nurturing for pregnancy to occur. Kundalini Yoga is a wonderful tool for conscious conception for both men and women. It integrates the spiritual, energetic, conscious, and unconscious aspects of a person, as well as strengthens the nervous system, balances the hormonal system, and energizes the muscles, organs, and joints of the physical body.

While all of the chakras come into play, it is essential to have a balanced second chakra in order for healthy conception to happen. Many men and women feel as though they are running on adrenaline, weakening their sexuality, sensuality, sensitivity, and emotional well-being. They lose touch with the natural balance that comes from aligning with the creative embrace of the universe.

See also A Sequence to Help You Feel Strong and Secure

Here are four Kundalini Yoga practices that help rebalance the second chakra so that creative expression and our natural, robust fertility are aligned with the ripe possibility of conception. These exercises work for both men and women, helping them to open, allow, and drop their resistance to the natural creativity of the universe flowing through them.

About the Author

Teacher and model Karena Virginia is a Kundalini Yoga teacher based near New York City. She is the coauthor of Essential Kundalini Yoga. Learn more at karenavirginia.com

STUDY WITH KARENA

Join Karena for a unique, six-week online course on the incredibly powerful practices that Kundalini Yoga has to offer. Learn more at yogajournal.com/kundalini101.

Excerpted from Essential Kundalini Yoga: An Invitation to Radiant Health, Unconditional Love, and the Awakening of Your Energetic Potential, by Karena Virginia and Dharm Khalsa. Sounds True, February 2017. Reprinted with permission.



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