S.L. Rogers is a participant in the Firefly Program in trauma-informed yoga offered at PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault) in Duluth, MN. Read on to learn about Rogers’ experience using trauma-informed yoga to support the healing of her mind, body, and spirit.
"I had done yoga previously for a number of years, Kundalini many years ago and Hatha which I had been participating until about a year prior to finding out about the Firefly Program [at PAVSA].
Having gone through a number of major traumas in my life, I found yoga to help center myself, to get some grounding within the tumult that was and still is my life. Having lost my ability to remain employed in a manner where I could afford to continue any practice at all, I was forced to do without yoga as well as anything else not an immediate need, stripping away so I could afford to simply live. Due to limited space, mobility and other circumstances it was difficult to do much practicing at home.
I found out about Firefly when working with one of the people employed at PAVSA. She was quite excited that it was going to be something that would be offered free of charge for those who have been through trauma. There was information on the trauma-informed methods which I read up on. In the end, it looked like a good fit for me. I was very excited to try it.
When we think of trauma, it takes many shapes and forever changes lives in different ways. There is always a psychological component to trauma, often there are physical reactions as well, from panic attacks to disability and pain. If there is job or income loss due to the trauma, people are forced into positions where the very agencies designed to help them frequently hold prejudice against us who bravely persist in the struggle to survive. We are hit with expectations that are unrealistic and stereotypes that rarely fit who we were or are. I don't think that any of this should be minimized. This adds additional stressors and often more trauma that creates a repetitive cycle, wearing us down psychologically, emotionally and physically as well.
The Firefly Program helps give some of our control back. Mindfulness, focus and intent removes peripheral details repeating within our thoughts that may seem insurmountable. Proper breathing brings our heart rate down, increasing oxygen and clarity, giving hormones comprising our fight/flight system a break. The stretches in poses target muscle groups that have become tight and painful, increasing our elasticity and releasing tension that binds us. Combine this with atmosphere and music geared to relaxation, and an instructor focused on abilities and encouragement for adaptation, and it's a winning combination for which I am grateful.
An added benefit is a small community of women who, although strangers, become a source of support for each other. It is gradual, and while some people attend intermittently, we all know that each has suffered in some way. There is an element of compassion that comes through and the atmosphere is both safe and supportive. Our instructor reinforces this through instruction methods with added benefits of opening and closing readings promoting hope, meditation, visualization and calm. She shares her own experiences and is an easily approachable individual who does so much to create our atmosphere of safety and support. We are given tools for clarity and survival that are learned through repetition that we are able to take with us to use where and when we are able. One can't put a price on mindfulness, clarity and physical well-being that carry over into an individual's daily life, from peaceful moments to chaos that trauma survivors need to release.
I strongly support the Firefly Program. It has made a difference in my life and in the lives of others. I believe every trauma survivor should be offered this program as an option to find tools that create a coping method for their particular situation. The Firefly Program gives back not only to individuals but takes us into our communities with clarity, mindfulness and physical well-being each working in tandem. The multi-faceted return of this program is priceless. Thank you."
-S. L. Rogers, Duluth, MN