“Originally from Peru, Edda Rodriguez moved to Chicago in 2002. She started practicing Yoga out of necessity in order to relieve back pain. Not only did Yoga help her eliminate her back pain, but she quickly realized that there was a lot more going on than just a physical practice. Her mission, as a Yoga Teacher and Energy Practitioner/Teacher, is to guide her students/patients through a compassionate, non-judgmental, intuitive and loving practice so that they connect to their own personal wisdom, healing abilities and expansive potential, transcending fear, transforming trauma and moving to a state of wholeness and peacefulness.”
About Edda Rodriguez
I practiced Yoga for 10 years before doing my teacher training. Introduced to Ashtanga Yoga during my 200 hrs Teacher Training (2012) through Jonny Kest’s Life Power Yoga, I felt a strong connection to this specific school of Yoga. Since then, I have surrendered to the challenges and lessons of Ashtanga. On this path, I have had the opportunity to learn from David Swenson, David Williams, Tim Miller, Tim Feldman and Kino McGregor on different workshops. In 2014, I did my first Ashtanga teacher Training with Manju Pattabhi Jois, and since then, I look forward to practicing and learning all the aspects of the Ashtanga tradition from Manju, my teacher.
Over the last 3 years, I have been teaching trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Care Center. I have taught more than 1500 hours at the Mental Health Unit, and have volunteered more than 300 hours at the PTSD unit, Assisted Living Facility for Seniors Veterans, the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center.
Yoga, for me, is more than a physical practice. It is a healing journey. I feel blessed to bring this healing practice to soldiers and veterans at the different units where I work and volunteer. To witness how this underserved population explores their unique and innate capacity to heal and transcend trauma is humbling. Seeing them experience deeper levels of peace, acceptance and greater happiness gives me joy.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpretation, a professional certificate in Mental Health Medical Interpretation as well as an early childhood education certification. I speak Spanish – my native language, English and French. I am passionate about photography and writing. I also work with people suffering from mental health diseases such as Alzheimer, senile dementia, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and clinical depression.
After moving to Chicago in 2002, I started volunteering at Omni Youth Group as well as working at the Chicago Outreach Program as Mental Health Interpreter. As a volunteer, I taught computer skills as well as English to Spanish-speaking women. What started as a class became an outlet for them to share their experiences, their dreams, and traumas –sexual trauma, shock trauma, especially of those who have survived wars, guerrillas, terrorist attacks and so on. Having experienced the shock, fear, panic and later apathy of car bombs exploding on a daily basis in my country, I related to their stories, and through my connections at the Chicago Outreach Program was able to connect these women to other professionals.
At the same time, I started practicing yoga to heal lower back pain. Not only did Yoga (pranayama and meditation) addressed my back pain, but it also helped me accept and surrender to my experiences and repressed memories, while healing my invisible wounds. After 10 years of practice – after starting my healing journey – I did my first yoga teacher training in 2012 to deepen my knowledge of this healing practice. A year later the opportunity to volunteer at the PTSD unit at the North Chicago VA presented and I immediately embraced it.
Since 2013, I have been volunteering and working with veterans at different units– Mental Health Unit, PTSD unit, Senior assisted-living Facility, Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center and lately, the Military Sexual Trauma. My intention is to provide a supportive and safe environment so that trauma survivors can gradually reconnect safely to their bodies, to their sensations and feelings.
In order to better serve this population, I have attended many trainings, mainly in the field of trauma such as the Neurophysiology of Trauma, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga and others. I have finished my first year of Somatic Experiencing Practitioner studies and I am currently undergoing the Yoga Therapist Training – Level I.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
Without realizing it, I started working with this population the moment I stepped into the Mental Health Unit. Both men and women can experience military sexual trauma during their service. At this unit, all veterans as well as active duty military personnel are assessed, evaluated and treated before they move on to the other units. Some will stay for months before continuing their treatment and/or healing journey, and for some this unit will be their home.
Having a deeper and personal understanding of what trauma is and how to navigate the ups and downs of trauma helps me reach and meet them where they currently are as it relates to their healing process. My intention is to offer them – through yoga – a safe, compassionate, loving and nurturing space where they can start their healing journey.
My yoga classes, as well as energy healing sessions, are tailored to the needs and wants of the student/patient/client. I combine my healing offerings when needed or asked.
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga – I teach slow flow, ashtanga-based vinyasa, restorative yoga, chair yoga or ashtanga yoga. My yoga sessions include pranayama, guided meditation (Yoga Nidra), Loving-Kindness meditation and chanting (traditional or “voo” from Somatic Experiencing) as well as Somatic Experiencing exercises that I have integrated into yoga.
Energy Healing – (Reiki, Akasha Records and Native Peruvian healing arts)
How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Sexual Violence
Each of the modalities I offer are sensitive to trauma. As a trauma-informed yoga teacher is my intention to create a safe environment for the students/survivors – helping them reconnect with their bodies and sensations gradually so as not to overwhelm their nervous system, helping them tap into their innate ability to heal, always observing and tracking their reactions and body language, and readjusting my approach accordingly.
My yoga sessions are an invitation to experience their bodies, notice sensations and feelings in a safe way. Guiding them through movement and holding of poses for a set cycle of breaths, always using invitational language as to remind them that they have the choice to opt in or out. I do not include hands-on adjustments or assists since these may feel invasive and may cause mild or severe activation. Equally important for me is to always place myself or my mat in front of the group, the student or the place they have chosen for their mat. I communicate in advance if the need to move arises. The only thing I require from my students is to breathe (whether natural breath, deep breath, ujjayi breathing) and the rest of the practice is completely optional.
For my energy healing practice, I always explain how the modality works, and may be felt (this varies from person to person) as well, I offer options – especially if hands-on touch is too activating for the patient/survivor/client.
Through my SE studies, I have learned how to help my students/patients/clients move from high activation to mild activation and then finally, to feeling safe and grounded.
It’s important to have a conversation about what will transpire in a session – yoga or energy healing, about the possibility for activation and how I would address the activation. It is all about creating a safe environment where if activation occurs, this can be safely contained and eventually discharged.
My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care
To be a trauma-informed provider is, above all, to compassionately create a secure and nurturing environment where survivors of trauma can safely explore their bodies and sensations, their emotions, feelings and thoughts; a place where their signs and symptoms are acknowledged and addressed at a safe pace. It is to offer a holistic approach that involves the human being as a whole – body, mind and spirit and actively work on avoiding re-traumatization. It is important to always remind yourself that you are just a guide in their journey to reawaken their own innate capacity to heal and become whole again; and that each one of them will walk a different healing path, a non-linear one. We all heal one breath at a time.
I am able to offer a sliding-scale.