“Jamie Hanson began practicing yoga in 2005 and soon realized that in addition to a practice that felt great in her physical body there was something else happening. For years she felt disconnected from her body, afraid to allow herself to fully feel the sensations that accompanied her emotions. But this practice offered a safe space to explore all of those places she had been hiding from for so long and brought enormous relief and joy. Yoga was a large part of the journey towards healing her own traumas and so in 2009 she decided to begin training to become a yoga teacher with the goal of reaching others who have experienced trauma, especially sexual and domestic violence. She knew that this heart-centered, physical practice worked – because she was living proof.”
About Jamie Hanson
Since 2009 I have focused my training on a trauma-informed approach and studied with Hala Khouri, Mark Lily, Seane Corn, Off the Mat, Into the World® and most recently completed the Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga with Zabie Yamasaki. I am the founder of Empowered Yoga Teacher Training™, a 200-hour yoga teacher certification program that is led with the trauma-informed perspective and incorporates issues of social justice. I am also a certified prenatal instructor with Ma Yoga® and facilitator trainer for Embody Love Movement®. All of my work is focused on empowering people to find their own light beneath any darkness and to be brave enough to let it shine bright.
In college I volunteered at the local domestic violence shelter and since then have held several jobs in social services including a group counselor at a home for adolescents who had been removed from their homes for various reasons and a domestic violence counselor/advocate. I worked as a domestic violence advocate/counselor in Chicago and in addition to working one-on-one with survivors, I led support groups and provided educational workshops for the Chicago Police Department as well as local Welfare to Work programs. I worked in the Minneapolis Public Schools in a self-contained Special Education classroom for students diagnosed with emotional and behavior issues for two years, where most, if not all of the students, had experienced traumatic home experiences. I have been teaching yoga for 8 years, full time for 5 years. All of my classes are guided with a trauma-informed approach and I love that I get to share these tools with the men and women who come to my classes. I have taught in many different studios, to high school students in the classroom, at youth conferences, and with athletic teams. Although these were not specifically for “trauma survivors” I know there are always individuals in each class that I teach who are healing from many different life experiences.
My Interest in Working with Survivors
I am a survivor of both sexual and domestic violence and yoga was a large part of my own healing. I also know that the statistics are staggering and if I can offer tools and resources to individuals that may help them navigate their lives and relationships with a little more trust, grace and empowerment, this will benefit the whole.
My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care
Being trustworthy, consistent and maintaining appropriate boundaries is extremely important when providing trauma-informed care. Creating a space that feels safe for someone to feel; to allow whatever comes up to be. Offering choices can be very powerful for survivors, as many have had their power taken from them. As a yoga instructor this means offering a class that gives many different options and invites students to move in the way that feels empowering, to use language that is compassionate and inclusive and to always ask for consent before I touch. I always strive to have a clear understanding of the population I am working with by educating myself on the cultural and historical issues that may impact the individual.
I am a trauma-informed yoga instructor. I also teach prenatal yoga and specialize in supporting mamas who have had past pregnancy and labor traumas.
How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Sexual Trauma
Yoga asana offers individuals the chance to be present to bodily sensations and practice tools to stay calm in the midst of discomfort in a safe and supportive environment. These tools of self-regulation can be extremely empowering for individuals and can later be used off the mat as well in the event that one is triggered.
I believe that all of our life’s experiences, our unfelt and unreleased emotions and our thoughts live in the physical body at the cellular level. This practice gives us the opportunity to move what is ‘stuck’ in our physical body out and find space, freedom and a sense of lightness.
Specifically I would use language that is inviting and inclusive. I would always stay attuned to what is happening in the room and adjust my instruction as necessary. If there is an emotional reaction to the practice I will quietly acknowledge that the individual is “seen” and allow her/him space to feel. I will always have additional resources available to offer students who may need it after class.
I am able to offer a sliding-scale.