“All of Alexis Marbach’s Boston-based classes provide a space where students can be curious and explore their own range of motion, strength, and self-confidence and make empowered healing choices for themselves. As a member of The Breathe Network and Firefly Yoga, she uses a survivor-centered lens to offer yoga as a tool for trauma therapy and an embodied approach to healing. Alexis has worked in the field of sexual and domestic violence prevention and intervention for the past 12 years, and has focused much of her work and her studies through a Masters in Public Health on community wellbeing and social connection for healing trauma. Alexis received her 200-hour yoga training through YogaWorks in Northern California, and has studied with Kate Graham of Soulful Yoga Therapy, Bo Forbes, Tami Hackbarth, and Michelle Marlahan to integrate her trauma and public health trainings into the yoga practice.“
Email: email@example.com| Practice Location: Boston, MA
My Interest in Working with Survivors
Alexis is passionately committed to working with survivors of sexual violence. She believes that traditional modalities to support survivors (counseling, therapy, support groups) do not necessarily work for every survivor and that each individual deserves to have a number of holistic healing options to best meet their needs. It is disheartening that survivors still struggle to get the support and long term care that they need from service providers and from family and friends. It is challenging for informal support networks to understand and conceptualize that healing is a life long process, and that the path to healing and wellness is not linear and often times feels nonsensical. Alexis wants to be able to help survivors develop a toolkit of mental, physical, and breath-work exercises that they can call upon at any time to reduce the influence of a trigger, regain their connection with their body, and calm their mind.
Alexis’s experience working in the field of sexual violence intervention and prevention has lead her to be incredibly sensitive to the needs of survivors. She is conscious of her word choice when giving instruction and provide physical adjustments only after asking a student for permission to be in their physical space. Students know where we are headed, and what kind of poses they will be working on so that they feel as though they can control their physical and mental energy and not be surprised by any parts of class.
For more on Alexis’s philosophy on a survivor-centered approach, click here.
Have you ever been asked “how are you” and responded “fine!”, all while your stomach is in knots, you have a headache, you’re gritting your teeth, or you are feeling so jumpy you could burst? We can use our words and our cognitive skills to convince ourselves, and others, that things are not as bad as they feel. We justify other’s behavior and trivialize the intensity of our emotions, making our words more palatable for those we are speaking to. Sometimes we rant for hours to a loved one about a situation and in the end, we don’t feel any better (I call this the word-vomit hangover). So what can we do with intense emotions and the emotional scars from traumatic events? We can start to listen to the wisdom of the body.
Alexis’s yoga for healing class is just that – a process of listening. Together we work to repair our relationships with our bodies so that we can listen to the articulate messages that they send. We work to relearn the signals of stress, anxiety, depression, and panic so that when the body sends us a message, we can act on it to keep our physical and emotional wellbeing in check.
Embodied healing (the work of linking movement and breath focused on healing specific emotional challenges and healing from past traumas) provides comfort, calm, and clarity when language fails. When we are feeling something that we can’t describe through words, our yoga practice can help us to access our hurt and vulnerable spaces, and send signals through our nervous system help our bodies and minds know that we are safe and supported.
Each practice is catered to you, and the emotions that you are working on. In a private session, Alexis provides space to chat for a few minutes at the start so that she can get a sense of what kinds of poses we should practice to best serve you both in the moment, and long term. In the one-on-one setting, you’ll have a chance to explore your physical and emotional wellbeing in a safe and supported space, and have the right to:
– Feel whatever you are feeling, whenever you feel it.
– Be in control of your own practice. Move when you need to move, rest when you need to rest, do what your body and heart are asking for.
– Practice free from judgment.
Once class is over, Alexis provides time and space to talk about how to practice self-care in between sessions – essentially, how to take the yoga off of the mat. If we are in a group class, Alexis offers options for poses and explain who might be interested in each option. For example, Alexis will offer two poses, and you can pick which meets your needs. If you are feeling overly wound up, she’ll over something lower to the ground supported by props to help create a sense of grounding. If you are feeling lethargic and depressed, she’ll offer gentle backbends and chest openers to help energize the heart. Without telling Alexis how you are feeling, you can listen in to the body, and pick what you need.
Modifications for Survivors
Every survivor deserves a yoga therapy practice as unique as they are. Alexis believes that there is no one way to be in any physical pose, or any one breath practice that works for all. With this idea at the core of her practice, Alexis caters her teaching to the students who are in her classes, and she works to make the practice accessible for all. You’ll often here her say “notice”, “investigate”, and “question” to help students listen in, instead of focusing on the way a pose looks or the way another student’s pose looks (she knows how it feels to get stuck in the feeling of competition and comparison in a yoga class!). She uses invitational language to help survivors make healthy and safe choices, and is cognizant of the impact of physical assists. Alexis uses the Yoga Flip Chip so that students can assert their own physical boundaries, and establish control over their physical space.
I am able to provide sliding-scale treatments.
Learn more about the components of trauma-sensitive yoga in this essay, “Supporting Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma with Yoga”, which Alexis wrote honoring survivors of military sexual trauma on Veteran’s Day.