Guest Post : GROWTH & FREEDOM: Through Movement, Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space... in that space is our power to choose our response. In our response, lies our growth and our freedom." –Viktor Frankl

Last month, I experienced quite a bit of growth in my professional life and offerings after completing a 65-hour training in Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy (TIYT). The training was not only a place of learning for me, it was an opportunity to build community, rest and restore (through guided TIYT and Yoga Nidra!), and merge the worlds of yoga and psychotherapy. The work of TIYT is centered about neurophysiology, the Poly Vagal Theory, understanding of the brain, nervous system, and cranial nerves and our responses to activating or triggering situations, Eastern teachings, yogic philosophy, breath work, connection, safety, empathy, and self-regulation. All bundled together in the work of TIYT!

There are many possibilities and ways the work can look and take form. The number one goal of TIYT is the creation of a safe space, to express oneself just as you are with choice and empowerment. YOU choose what feels good in your body. YOU have choice over your body. There is no judgment. As a Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist, I am a guide who creates a safe space, educator, holder of space, a support, and an individual to connect with. With an awareness that certain practices and forms of movement trigger a negative response, I will offer techniques of self-soothing and self-regulation to all practitioners in the class. 


•    ASANA (Movement/postures)
To support an individual or population dependent upon their needs

An introduction to breathing techniques to activate or deactivate the autonomic nervous system which includes the sympathetic nervous system responsible for fight/flight and parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and digest. 

To support the nervous system and vagal nerve, a nerve that begins in the brain and travels down the entire spine. Linked to the parasympathetic nervous system and Social Engagement System which includes the visceromotor system (heart & lungs) and the somatomotor system or somatic nervous system (facial, ears, voice). More to come in my next blog :) 

Words, phrases, sentences of truth or intention. Used as a practice of mindfulness to stay in the present moment and as positive cognitive repetition (positive thinking). 

Mudras are hand gestures. Our fingers contain thousands of nerves endings and placing our hands in a particular way cultivates powerful healing energy and subtle responses to our systems, breath, and bodies. You may be thinking this is "woo woo" and that's ok! Again, the practice is tailored to you and my suggestions are just that, suggestions, invitations, and choices. 

If appropriate, education may be provided to learn about the science behind body-based practices, the connection of mind/body, stress on our systems, eastern philosophy, the effects of breathing and self-regulation, etc.  

The situations that activate or trigger you and skills to use in those situations to decrease the fight/flight/freeze responses. 

As a mental health professional, work can include processing of feelings, emotions coming up throughout TIYT work and a greater understanding of the self, reactions, and re-patterning to decrease trauma response situations and anxiety/stress related to symptoms and experience. 

Many people do not feel comfortable attending a "westernized" yoga class or studio. It can feel intimidating and disempowering. My hope is to create classes for various communities and populations to attend and participate in yoga regardless of your financial situation, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. 

Through the practice of yoga, individuals gain knowledge through their own experience and the experience begins in the body. This is different from reading from a text and understanding teachings and concepts. The knowledge gained from experience is truly unique and your very own. 

This summer I have the opportunity to facilitate “Internal Landscape Movement” and “Stretch your Mind” at Violet Hive Art Therapy and Healing’s Summer Studio Sessions. The week-long sessions for three hours a day are designed as summer camps for kids and teens to join others in the community to dive into yoga movement, yogic philosophy, games, team building exercises, and self-regulation skills!

June 26-30, 2017, 1:00pm-4:00 pm
Throughout the week teens will have an opportunity to engage in a yoga practice and education to better understand themselves, relieve stress, and take home skills to assist in challenging moments. Through movement, breath, understanding of the brain, mindfulness education, team building exercises, activities rooted in yogic philosophy, and community connection teens will have a blast while developing new skills while working together with others.

STRETCH YOUR MIND, Yoga for 8-12 yrs,
July 17-22, 2017, 9:00am-12:00 pm
Downdog, child’s pose, dancer, mountain pose… which one is your child’s favorite? This week your little yogis will engage in a yoga practice to learn more about the emotions felt in their bodies, the thoughts in their mind, develop language to communicate in challenging moments all through connection in community with other kids, fun self-regulations skills, games, and creative outlets for expression of self.

I am thrilled to guide younger populations through self-expression, movement, emotional intelligence, and regulation. No yoga experience is necessary. 

Please contact me with any questions or needs. Visit my website at for more information and registration.

Sending love, 


Amy LeiterComment