Beth J.

Yoga offers me a place of deep healing and a way to sustain a grounded life.

Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training opened me up in ways I never expected. It was not only a potent process of growing physically stronger and more flexible, it also gave me a touchstone for how to be and where to return to. Yoga offers me a place of deep healing and a way to sustain a grounded life. It has taught me how to ride the waves, whether rough or gentle.

Because yoga helped me so much, I knew it could also help populations like those I’d worked with when I was an advocate for families raising children with special needs. Many live at subsistence level, with chronic stress, isolation, anxiety, depression, and physical challenges. So I went back to Kripalu to attend trauma-sensitive yoga (TSY) teacher training with Bessel van der Kolk, David Emerson, and Jenn Turner, and then to earn my 500-Hour Kripalu certification. In 2014, I became a certified TSY facilitator through a long-term mentorship with David. 

With the help of Teaching for Diversity grants from Kripalu, I created a TSY class for women veterans and a separate men’s group. Today, along with teaching Kripalu Yoga classes and TSY to private students and small groups, I facilitate TSY for women in treatment for addiction and the effects of complex trauma at two residential facilities in central Maine. I’ve also provided TSY classes to direct-care staff of domestic violence and sexual assault agencies, lawyers, and Veteran's Administration staff.

TSY emphasizes regulation of emotions and helps build tolerance to sensation. Feeling is the most difficult part of the practice, because the body of a traumatized person is the site of injury and, typically, shame. Feeling vulnerable is frightening. As students practice over time, they engage more confidently with yoga and work toward becoming compassionate witnesses to their own process. Seeing a young woman in a deep depression lifting off the ground into Crow, because she wants to, because it makes her feel powerful—that’s why I do this work.

—Beth J., yoga teacher, Hallowell, Maine