A new program is coming to Smithers that aims to help heal women who have experienced domestic violence using yoga.
Yoga Outreach will be offering weekly, onsite trauma-informed yoga classes for women accessing Transition House services.
The program is part of a five-year joint research project between the BC Society of Transition Houses and Yoga Outreach funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The Northern Society of Domestic Peace is also taking part in the project.
“We know women who have experienced violence or trauma can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” said Yoga Outreach executive director Delanie Dyck.
“Research is finding that yoga provides a body based therapy that supports recovery from trauma. PTSD is often difficult to treat conventionally. Yoga provides a beneficial compliment to other types of therapies.”
Dyck added that the yoga that will be provided in Smithers can help women regain the feeling of safety and control within their own bodies, a feeling they may have lost after suffering domestic abuse, for example.
“[Yoga teachers] provide opportunities to make choices about simple movements they want to make with their bodies, be aware about how those things feel — if they feel good you continue, if not you go back,” she added.
“That is the difference between [traditional] yoga and trauma-informed yoga: We provide choice for our students; we don’t direct them to do things; we offer them choices; we ask to try things out; we ask to notice how it feels. It is a self-directed experience and it is really about putting that power and that control over their bodies back into their court.”
Yoga Outreach is currently looking for volunteer yoga teachers and are offering a training seminar from Oct. 13-15 in Smithers. Organizers have extended the early bird price of $310 to encourage more people to sign up for the workshop. Dyck said that anyone can attend the training but in order to volunteer and be part of the project they have to be a certified yoga teacher. She is hoping for 12 people in the class and to recruit one or two yoga teachers.
The trauma-informed yoga classes for women can start once a couple of teachers are trained and ready to go. Dyck is hoping that will be in November.
They are currently into year three of five of the research project, and then the Northern Society of Domestic Peace evaluate whether or not to keep offering the program after that.