Trauma-informed Yoga

PAVSA Trauma-informed Yoga

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This trauma-informed yoga class is a private and closed class offered by the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) for survivors of sexual assault.  Trauma-informed yoga is a service provided FREE of charge through PAVSA. Class is perfect for beginners and experienced yoga practitioners alike. We offer a one hour slow-paced, gentle and restorative practice and also incorporate strengthening poses.  Individuals must register for class by:

  • Completing the Registration Form below
  • Contacting Anna Spielmann at PAVSA: 
  • Any questions contact the instructor Kyle Leia Heyesen
    • T: +1 218 341 6115
    • E:
For more information about services and supports for survivors of sexual assault visit the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault website


Class Day and Time

Monday's at 5:30 pm

Class is offering on-going on a weekly basis

**Class location is private and will be shared only with registered participants to protect confidentiality

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Trauma-informed Yoga

Trauma can create both an emotional and physical imprint on the body. As Bessel Van der Kolk explains, unresolved emotional trauma creates “issues in our tissues”, manifesting as physical symptoms such as migraines, nervous ticks, clenched shoulders/neck/jaw, a sunken chest, and a heavy heart. Trauma survivors often display physical characteristics as a result of a somatic reaction to emotional distress, dysregulation, and hypo- or hyper-arousal. Students may find that their throat constricts, their shoulders move up, their range of motion becomes limited, all as a result of experiencing trauma. At some point, a trauma survivor must find a coping mechanism (healthy or unhealthy), because, as Van der Kolk states, “gut wrenching feelings are incompatible with being alive”. The physical body slowly becomes the enemy. Core functions of sleep, digestion, breathing, and chemical balance become disrupted. Traumatized individuals may also feel shame or become self-consciousness as they over-react to physical or emotional cues from the world around them.

The moment that a person experiences trauma, the body automatically makes a decision to protect itself. This decision could result in a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. It is easy to become trapped by a sympathetic nervous system reaction. The adaptive response can become prime and paramount, creating new chronic states of being.

Our brains change. Trauma can damage the insula, a part of your brain that registers what is happening with the body. Insula damage translates as the inability to experience joy, love, happiness, and to experience the very sensations of what our bodies are physically doing. Additionally, trauma damages the pre-frontal cortex, which assists us in self-regulation. After experiencing trauma, an individual may feel lost feel as though it cannot rely on itself to become reoriented. But this feeling must come from within.

Enter: yoga.

While the experience of trauma and its aftermath can feel isolating, yoga provides an opportunity to be physically in sync with others. Moving in unison with fellow classmates or with an instructor can help re-establish interpersonal (and intrapersonal) rhythms.

A trauma-sensitive yoga practice can increase connection with the breath, enabling the brain to become less aroused, and relaxation to begin. Yoga can rebuild connections with both the insula and prefrontal cortex, strengthening the mind-body connection. The practice can help a student to regain their sense of control and ownership over their own body and their own experience.

Excerpt from The Breathe Network

Kyle Heyesen holds a Trauma Informed Yoga Certificate through Firefly Training program with Firefly Yoga International