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Published on January 09, 2019

group of women doing yoga

Trauma-sensitive yoga gives 'choice,' 'sense of home'

The patient just wanted to feel "normal" and "part of a community." After care from Gundersen Health System providers, support from La Crosse Area Family YMCA staff, and Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive yoga, they found a sense of belonging.

Rachel Slough-Johnson, MS, LMFT, TCTSY-F, Gundersen Sexual Abuse Counseling and Support, has many stories like this as she provides more than psychotherapy for patients at the Gundersen/YMCA Healthy Living Center. She also leads a Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga class for adults impacted by sexual abuse.

"The goal of this yoga practice is to learn to trust, feel safe in your own body, and practice mindfulness. Also, those who have experienced trauma often don't have a choice. We give them the opposite," Rachel says. "One of my patients, new to yoga, initially mimicked everything I did, even poses I could see were uncomfortable for them. They recently started doing their own poses unprompted after going through this program."

Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Certified yoga instructors like Rachel must take an additional 300 hours of training to become certified to teach Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga. This yoga practice can be difficult to offer due to space, equipment and resource constraints. But the Healthy Living Center is the ideal setting for providing patients personalized, compassionate instruction.

Rachel's patients say physical pain and other symptoms have significantly decreased as a result of attending these yoga sessions. They also report being more engaged in the community and feeling more comfortable interacting with others during yoga sessions.

"One of my patients is now comfortably tapering to monthly sessions," Rachel says. "Along with attending regular yoga sessions, they also attend Y fitness classes. This person has found what they call a ‘sense of home' at the Y."

Is Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga for you?

It takes just 15 to 30 minutes to find out. Contact Rachel at (608) 775-9392 for more information. Behavioral health and emotional wellness services are integrated into many programs offered at the Healthy Living Center:

  • Behavioral Health and Wellness Counseling
  • Sexual Abuse Counseling (no charge)
  • Healthy Relationships Group Therapy (no charge)
  • Wellness in Early Parenthood
  • After-Baby
  • Teen Skills Group
  • Dig DEEP (DEEP = Diet and Exercise to Ease Pain)
  • Family LEAP (LEAP = Learn, Eat, Active Play)
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