Online Program

Yoga as Healing: Evaluating How Trauma Informed Yoga Can Assist Survivors of Sexual Violence in Healing

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sara Abdelhalim, B.S. Biological Sciences, MPH, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Pasadena, CA
Zahabiyah Khorakiwala, B.A. Psychology and Social Behavior, M.A., R.Y.T., UCI Campus Assault Resources & Education, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Jessica Lizardo, B.A. Psychology and Social Behavior, UCI Campus Assault Resources & Education, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Background: Sexual violence is a significant public health threat. 1 in 5 women will be sexually abused during her lifetime. Such a traumatic experience can cause lasting harmful changes to the body’s physiology, nervous system, and brain chemistry. Healing from sexually traumatic experiences can be a lengthy and complicated process. Research has found that trauma sensitive yoga can help regulate emotional and physiological states and allow the body to regain natural movement while simultaneously imparting the critical use of breath for self-regulation.

Objectives: To propose a trauma-informed method of healing for survivors of sexual violence. To propose a program that creates a safe space for survivors of sexual violence that will assist and encourage them to maintain healthy mental and physical lifestyles.

Methods: The program spans the length of eight weeks with each week focusing on a specific theme that will guide each session. Themes include: (1) Intention, (2) Safety, (3) Mindfulness, (4) Boundaries, (5) Assertiveness, (6) Strength, (7) Trust, and (8) Acceptance and Community. Each session includes both a yoga and activity portion that will allow survivors to reflect upon the impact of their experiences. A pre-test and post-test are administered to participants to evaluate program impacts and outcomes regarding the healing process, personal safety, and physical and emotional stability.

Conclusions:  This method promotes safety, health, and well-being. The program aims to empower survivors of sexual violence to re-gain control of their lives by providing them with the knowledge, tools, and environment to engage in self-care and help-seeking behavior.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define trauma-sensitive yoga. Describe the potential of trauma-informed yoga practice as a method of healing for survivors of sexual violence. Identify critical components of effective trauma-informed yoga interventions for use in assisting survivors of sexual violence. Design trauma informed yoga interventions for individuals who have experienced traumatic sexual violence.

Keyword(s): Sexual Assault

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Albert Schweitzer Fellow who has been working for the past year, alongside my co-authors, on developing and implementing a trauma informed yoga intervention for survivors of sexual violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.