Zabie is the Program Director of Trauma Informed Yoga Programs at UCLA and the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga, an organization with the mission of empowering survivors to heal through the practice of yoga.
Today, we share:
Why every yoga teacher training needs a trauma informed component
How to dislodge the emotional imprints of "Vasana"
Dealing with triggers as they come up
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“Yoga started as a practice in India to transcend people’s suffering, and that’s been an anchor for me of why i have chosen this path and why i feel so deeply connected and committed to it.”
“There’s so few spaces we can come together in community and heal and honor the sacredness of a practice that has been cultural appropriated and reclaimed by many folks, and so for me i try to stay authentic in standing in my own truth.”
“My goal is to help survivors feel safe and seen.”
“There’s a lot of components of trauma-informed care, including safety, trust, choice, empowerment, and cultural competence. But i think that cultural competence is the one that folks often times leave out of the conversation. We can talk very broadly about creating safety or helping a survivor be at the center of their own experience, but what does it truly look like to truly help someone feel safe and seen? And a big part of that is acknowledging their identity, and acknowledging the experiences they bring into the room, and knowing that’s going to play an integral role in how they feel with you. A big part of that is being able to lean into the discomfort and the messiness of this work.”
“This work is not for the faint-hearted. It’s really a constant practice to commit to our own rituals and our own practices so that we can show up as whole as we possibly can to hold space for those who need us.”
“We spend so much of our day disconnected from our bodied, and often times when we are not in our bodies we are in our minds. And it is a constant recommitment to return to ourselves and say, ‘What is my body communicating to me in this moment about what i need? And how can i respond in a way that is kind and compassionate?”
“Survivors of trauma cannot be reminded enough about the choices they have with their own body.”
“In yoga terms, trauma causes something that causes vasanas. And vasanas are emotional imprints that live inside the body. And they often times get rooted or lodged or hardwired in various areas of their body, depending on the nature of the trauma. So when we integrate practices like yoga, it helps to sort of move those vasanas to the surface, allowing us to move them in sort of ways that might feel safe or incredibly volatile…”
“Trauma is so fluid and is so messy and is going to take us a lifetime to unpack.”
“So often we think, ‘Oh no! We have to create this very safe container,’ and yes of course that’s what we want to do, but we also have to honor the nuances and reality of what’s going to come up when working so intimately with the body.”
“Every 200 hour yoga teacher training should have a module on trauma. We have such an obligation of yoga teachers to be mindful of the ways that trauma manifests for our students the way we are around physical injuries. We learn about prenatal modifications and how to work with specific injuries, but none of us are immune from trauma or suffering I feel that we do a real disservice by not equipping yoga teachers with some of these tools to help their students feel safe.”
“One of the first things I say when I’m leading a trauma-informed class is, ‘I invite you to take a few moments to connect with the fact that you made it here to your mat. Sometimes showing up for ourselves is the hardest part. If you wanted to find one posture and stay there for the entire class, that would be perfect and supported. This is your body and always your practice.’”
“If you’re teaching yoga, you’re teaching to trauma survivors.” - Karen Spitz
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Zabie received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Social Behavior and Education at the University of California, Irvine. She completed her graduate work in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs at The George Washington University. Zabie received her 200-hour yoga teacher training certificate through Core Power Yoga and attended a 40-hour workshop on trauma-sensitive yoga instruction through the Justice Resource Institute at the Kriplau Center for Yoga and Health. Zabie is the Program Director of Trauma Informed Yoga Programs at UCLA and the Founder of Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga, an organization with the mission of empowering survivors to heal through the practice of yoga. Her work has been highlighted on CNN, NBC News, the Huffington Post, OC Register, Elephant Journal, and in a variety of online publications.
Zabie is widely recognized for her care and intentionality, soulful and zenful activism, undeniable passion, and hard work and dedication to her field. She has created a model therapeutic yoga program and curriculum which is now being implemented at 20 colleges campuses and agencies including the University of California, Stanford, USC, and Johns Hopkins to name a few. By focusing on a holistic approach, Zabie is helping to change the way our world responds to trauma and provides support to survivors at various stages in their healing.
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