Q+A on Trauma and Yoga

What is trauma-informed yoga?

It’s first important to tease apart the terms “trauma-informed yoga” and “trauma-sensitive yoga”. Trauma-sensitive yoga takes in to account that the majority of the population has experienced trauma in some way, whether it be event-related, complex trauma, and/or developmental trauma, and under these conditions, being introduced back in to a relationship with one’s body, experiencing sensation and exploring internal awareness isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience, and needs to be guided skillfully. Trauma-informed yoga includes the above as well, and typically indicates that a teacher or trainer has a more extensive background and focused training in trauma and how it affects behavior across multiple populations and settings.

List and describe three ways yoga can benefit those affected by trauma?

  1. Trauma tends to keep people trapped in their survival responses of fight, flight or freeze and thus, ruminating on the past or worrying about the future  – and yoga is a present-focused, body-based practice, so it encourages students to continuously come back to the here and now and stay in tune with their bodies and moment-by-moment experience. Rather than working from the top down (meaning starting with the neocortex area of the brain first as utilized in cognition therapy), yoga works from the bottom up (starting with the brain stem and limbic system – where the survival responses live- and body first), to encourage a sense of integration and agency in one’s own body and resolution of traumatic experiences from the somatic level.
  2. Often, trauma is referred to as, “too much, too fast, too soon” and a typical, well-rounded yoga class tends to encompass cycles of stimulation and calming to facilitate regulation of the nervous system. This delicate balance of movement and dynamic stillness allows the body to naturally pendulate and find its own inherent rhythm and sense of stabilization.
  3.  Yoga also accesses the Vagus nerve which helps bring the social engagement system back online as many who have experienced trauma may feel uncomfortable being in social situations. If a yoga teacher sets the tone of the class in a warm, open, receptive, connective, and safe way, offers a structured sequence, is skillful in their languaging, and offering of hands-on adjustments (or, equally as important, if not more so) honoring students’ preference to not receive hands-on adjustments, it helps to build trust and confidence in students’ ability to be in relationship with themselves and others.

What are the best classes for people with trauma? 

The best classes embody all of the tenets mentioned above – a skilled teacher who is present before and after class to connect with students and hold space; the use of invitational language and options so students can explore what they feel the most comfortable with in their practice that day; a class that matches the advertised description as consistency is key in supporting those who have experienced trauma; and always asking if students are open to receiving hands-on assists during class.

Any particular type of trauma that is best treated with yoga?

Those who have experienced event-related trauma, complex trauma and/or developmental trauma can ALL benefit from yoga as it helps to bring the brain and body back into relationship with one another.

How does YogaSix fit in to this topic?

The Teaching Methodology and general guidelines of the YogaSix community incorporate all of the qualities listed above to help facilitate a safe and inclusive experience for all students who walk through our doors – a clean and safe space for students to practice in, teachers who are warm, welcoming, and present for pre- and post-class connection with students, announcement the class type and length of class before starting, use of invitational language, guidance of breath first, followed by supportive direction on how to move one’s body so students stay engaged in their own unique physicality and experience, balance of movement and pause no matter the class type to welcome nervous system regulation, and asking for students consent where hands-on adjustments are concerned. We endeavor to help make each studio and class feel inviting, accessible, and empowering to every student by connecting them back to their own individual power through body, breath and mind.

~Abby Vernon

Master Trainer + Lead of Teacher Development, YogaSix San Diego

E-RYT-500, YACEP, Int. Year SE Student

woman meditating in the outdoors
Photo by Oluremi Adebayo on Pexels.com

Start Where You Are

Start where you are. Have you heard this statement before? I seem to be hearing it, or at least noticing it around me, often lately. It seems like such simple advice, doesn’t it? Of course, where else would I start (insert snarky tone here)?

Well, it is taken me MONTHS to get back to writing because I’ve been afraid to start from where I was, where I am – to accept myself and my talent and ability as being perfect just as they are.

I like to fantasize about thinking myself into great writing rather than actually writing myself into great writing. I’m very rarely in the mood to write – only about 5% of the time. During this 5% I am struck with (what I think are) great ideas for a piece so I’ll jot them down somewhere or tap them into the notes app in my phone, to inevitably be lost in the “busy-ness” of daily life. Or if I do come back to it, I’ll forget the inspiration and where it was taking me entirely.

I’ve heard that this is a normal process among writers and that all it takes is the discipline to actually sit my ass down and put pen to paper (I’m old-school).

Despite my extreme procrastination, I love to write and adore the whole process; never wanting to do it, sitting down to force myself to do it, letting the words spill out on the page, revising drafts, tweaking words and paragraphs to intensify the perfect sentiment, reading, analyzing, and dissecting sentences, and sometimes not even recognizing my own handiwork because the word seem to come from a source beyond myself.

Is this what it feels like to be a writer? I don’t know, all I know is my own process-however flawed, however spotty, however perfectly imperfect, it all comes down to the fact that I still love to write. It is one of my burning desires and passions in life, which is a miracle in itself (more on that in the future).

In order to pursue growth and to stretch and open my dusty, out-of-practice wings, here I start again, in the ever-present and eternal now.

Write on.

Mt. Woodson Hike

It was just a regular Saturday, the hubs and I had an event to attend in the Poway area and decided to go for a hike afterward. Not knowing which hikes were nearby, we googled what was closest to us and discovered the Mt. Woodson trail was a fairly short drive away. We had heard about this hike and seen tons of Facebook profile photos of the infamous Potato Chip rock and had wanted to go for a while, so we decided – why not?

Despite the trail being described as “steep” with “rocky terrain”, we figured it would be no big deal, because we’re both in pretty good shape. We discovered quickly that being in running, yoga and boot camp shape is much different than hiking shape.

The majority of this hike is uphill and they were not joking when they described the terrain as rocky, there were lots and lots and LOTS of rocks – some of the most beautiful (and BIGGEST) ones I have ever seen. Of course, the Potato Chip rock at the peak of the hike is the one everyone travels the distance for (as was evidenced by the hundreds of people waiting in line to snap a pic on top of it). We decided to forgo the long wait in line and have someone take a picture of us in front of it instead, which was totally fine by me.

This was one of the most challenging hikes I have been on in a while but totally worth it. The feeling of accomplishment after we had reached the top and the gorgeous views left us feeling blissfully exhausted and fulfilled. 

If you decide to challenge yourself to hike Mt. Woodson, remember to wear good hiking shoes, bring lots of water and some sustenance, both for you and your pups if you bring them along.
Happy hiking everyone!









So crazy the “potato chip” could fall at ANY time!




Crow every damn day 🙂










I’m baaaaaack…anybody out there?

After a very long hiatus from blogging, most of it filled with enjoying newlywed life, lots of yoga teaching, a new job, a little bit of travel, and a bunch of very boring stuff in between, I am SUPER excited to be back to blogging. Yes, I’m hopeful and motivated to stay up with it on a regular basis but of course, there’s no way of knowing if that is going to really happen. However, I have been thinking about doing this for a while and I am pretty darn thrilled.

Why am I back after being out of the blogging game for so long? Well, first of all, thank you so much for asking, and secondly, I really miss having this as a creative outlet. Yes, I have yoga, which fulfills part of that need, and I have loved exploring my creative side via (iPhone) photography and making short videos on Instagram but nothing makes me feel quite as vibrant as writing does. I have always loved to write but somewhere along the way, I felt like I got “too busy” and writing became less of a priority to the detriment of my spirit. I have talked myself out of doing this for far too long and I’m ready to dive back in head first, despite what my inner critic says. I don’t have a goal in mind other than to express myself and hopefully connect with others via this platform.

We shall see what’s to come…stay tuned and thank you for reading!


Imagine a Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

~Patricia Lynn Reilly


On Spaciousness

In Light of Merton 

At the very center of our being is a great spaciousness that is untouched by sin and illusion.

A point of pure truth which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our mind or the brutalities of our will.

It’s like a pure diamond – blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It’s in everybody.

And if we could only see it and integrate it – we would radiate a peace that would make all the darkness and all the cruelty vanish forever.


– Joe Z.

Oh the Places You’ll Go

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go

though the weather be foul

On you will go

though your enemies prowl

On you will go

though the Hakken-Kraks howl

Onward up many

a frightening creek,

though your arms may get sore

and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike

and I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


~Dr. Seuss