Yoga For People Heroes Series
Healing – Kelsey Bourgeois
I had been teaching yoga for several years when I had a personal trauma occur; a stranger sexually assaulted me while out running one day. Although I had always considered myself in touch with my womanhood and aware of the inequality that exists in the world between the sexes, this was the moment it became personal. I began what has been a long, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful journey through the moors of what it means to be a woman.
A key part of this journey has been my yoga practice. When trauma happens (sexual or otherwise) there is a dissociating effect on the body- in other words, we leave our selves in order to survive. This survival technique is crucial, but can leave us with some unhealthy emotional or physical habits. What yoga does is help bring us back into our bodies, back into touch with what’s going on in them.
At first, practicing yoga was scary and difficult for me, but with time it became a respite from all else as well as my way back to myself. When I met Santosh and learned what he was doing with YogaForPeople, I knew I had to be involved. Yoga had helped me so much and I wanted to make it available to others going through similar recoveries. For this reason, my volunteer work has been almost exclusively within women’s shelters, therapy groups and other gatherings. Sometimes I see women who are mere days out of abusive situations and they are still physically mending. For these women, it is usually the first healing movement they’ve done apart from immediate medical attention for severe wounds.
The benefits are miraculous as these women take their first shaky steps into a safe environment that they may not have known for years within themselves. Other times I deal with women who may or may not have had physical abuse, but who are dealing with emotional trauma or healing. These women may or may not recognize their need to begin with and so these classes are often filled with tears and discoveries that could not be possible in other spaces. I feel so fortunate to be able to facilitate these experiences in even the smallest way.