Thanks to Support Services Coordinator, Chelsea DeLarm, residents now have the opportunity to practice “mindfulness”, or focusing awareness on the present moment’s thoughts and sensations, through yoga!
Yoga instruction at CMC is trauma-informed, meaning special care is taken to make the practice useful and accessible to women who have experienced past trauma. Chelsea says that she never touches or re-positions students, assures safety in the practice room by keeping her eyes open at all times so residents can close their eyes in meditation, and tailors poses to the physical abilities of people in the class.
For example, one recent yoga class included “chair yoga” with poses specifically designed for being seated in a chair so that women with physical disabilities could participate. Before becoming an instructor, Chelsea completed an intensive three-day certification process and continues to research how she can make yoga accessible to residents with specific challenges such as hearing impairment.
The goal of yoga at CMC is simply to focus on breathing and the mind-body connection. While concentrating in this way, residents are able to recognize why they are thinking or feeling what they are at that moment, increasing feelings of safety and control.
Chelsea says she can see that residents are often tense and unsure of themselves before class, but relaxed and confident after a half hour of yoga. Chelsea says residents often share a meal after their Thursday yoga class and become more open to talking and often comment, ” This is the only time I can relax,” and “I can move this side of my body more easily!”
Trauma-informed yoga is not unique to the Catherine McAuley Center. The practice has been used to aid people of all backgrounds throughout the world, including trauma-survivors in Somalia!
You can learn more about trauma-informed yoga by visiting Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga.