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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Yoga and Wellness Center Specializes in Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

Apr 01, 2015 06:37AM ● By Linda Sechrist

Trauma exposure is pervasive in our society, according to a 2009 issue of International Journal of Yoga. More than half the general population reports exposure to at least one traumatic event over their lifetime. While between 5 percent and 10.4 percent of these individuals may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many more are undiagnosed or fall under other trauma-related associations, such as complex childhood trauma disorder and/or disorder of extreme stress not otherwise specified.

The debilitating effects of unresolved trauma on the overall quality of life may include anxiety, depression, dissociation, hypervigilance, panic disorder and other psychological disorders, giving individual wellness practitioners and treatment centers good reason to incorporate trauma-sensitive protocols into their practices.

Vivasana Yoga & Wellness Center, located 20 miles east of Clams Pass Beach Park on more than three acres in Naples, specializes in trauma-sensitive yoga. Founder Monique Danielle, an experienced yoga teacher with a graduate certificate in The Clinical Foundations of Trauma from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, has a favorite quote by author Stephen Cope, director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living: “Human beings are tender creatures. We are born with our hearts open. And sometimes our open hearts encounter experiences that shatter us. Sometimes we encounter experiences that so violate our sense of safety, order, predictability and right that we feel utterly overwhelmed—unable to integrate and simply unable to go on as before. Unable to bear reality, we have come to call these shattering experiences trauma.” The quote not only inspires Danielle’s practice but also subtly acknowledges the numerous types of trauma besides PTSD.

“Our goal is to create an environment that is welcoming and sensitive to the needs of all clients,” notes Danielle. “In this way, survivors of trauma can be served by yoga within a non-triggering, nonclinical framework and without discussing the details of their trauma histories. Vivasana provides individuals the tools to strengthen, nourish, balance and empower their physical, emotional and spiritual selves. This is done in private, semiprivate and group classes as well as two- and three-day retreats. We create a self-help environment that is compassionate, noncompetitive, noninvasive, psychologically informed and nonjudgmental.”

Danielle, a yoga instructor since 2006 who has studied with Yogi Hari, of the Sivananda lineage, believes that the true success of trauma-sensitive yoga lies in how it positively changes the way individuals live their lives off the mat and in their relationships. “Ours is a safe space in which no one has to stress over having to perform the perfect posture,” she says. “We want students to cultivate a friendly relationship to their bodies through gentle breath, meditation and movement practices that can literally help people free their bodies and neurological systems of somatized trauma.

“Vivasana sessions help students identify a sankalpa (intention) and work through it using postures, breathwork, meditation and tapping [a form of energy medicine in which a person taps on the endpoints of the major energy meridians with the fingertips]. Individuals who are highly stressed live much of their lives in a state of high beta brainwaves. Our goal is to help students reach alpha and low-beta brain patterns, states which are often found in experienced meditators and are associated with an increased sense of calm and well-being.” Danielle adds that although trauma-sensitive yoga supports the efforts of individuals in recovery, it is not a replacement for clinical care.

Vivasana also offers a residential 200-hour teacher training, an online, interactive 12-month teacher development program and online or on-site continuing education workshops. The company helps treatment centers design and market relevant advanced yoga and mindfulness programs for their clients and provides yoga coaching and corporate wellness programs. Personal retreats are available by arrangement.

For location details and more information, call 239-444-8160 or visit

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