Yoga for Survivors
Yoga for Survivors is a free, trauma-informed, accessible-for-all yoga program designed specifically for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence. This program offers several options for survivors: individualized yoga therapy, yoga therapy small groups/support groups, and group yoga classes.
Individual Yoga Therapy
What is Yoga Therapy?
Trauma-sensitive yoga therapy is a healing modality that empowers the client in addressing the mind-body connection through guided breathwork, movement, education, and mindfulness. Using the practices and philosophies of yoga through a neuroscience-based therapeutic lens, each one-hour session offers clients a personalized holistic practice to navigate and work through traumas held in the body. Each client has the opportunity to co-create their practice with their yoga therapist in a way that allows them to resource their inner reserves and reconnect with themselves with care and compassion.
Your yoga therapist will take time to get to know you, your history, and your needs, so that you can get the best support possible from each session. Sessions will typically begin with a check-in and centering/grounding and then working with, on a somatic level (i.e. the felt sense in the body) a challenge or concern you’re presenting at that session. At the end of each session, you and your yoga therapist will work together to determine what practices you’d like to implement in your daily life.
Yoga therapy is a free, confidential service provided by SARA Roanoke in-person at our administrative office. This service requires a formal intake session, which can be scheduled by calling 540-345-7273.
Yoga Therapy Groups
What is Group Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy groups are designed for survivors seeking peer support using guided breathwork, meditation, movement, education, and inquiry. Through these experiences, participants are able to share their experiences and offer support to others as each moves through their healing journey.
Yoga Therapy Group Sessions will typically begin with a group centering practice followed by a brief group check-in and practices focusing on a specific theme (e.g. regulating the nervous system, managing anxiety, developing self-compassion, etc.). Yoga therapy groups are free, confidential groups that meet weekly in-person at the SARA Roanoke administrative office. To participate in weekly yoga therapy group sessions, a formal, individual intake process and participation in a 4-week Foundational Yoga Therapy Group is required. Please note these groups are currently open only to women-identifying people ages 21 years old and up. Space is limited – in the event a group meets the maximum of 6 participants, you will be placed on the waiting list for the next group (dates TBD). To learn more or to request an intake session, please click here.
Upcoming Foundational Yoga Therapy Groups
Mondays at 5:30 pm – 7 pm
Dates: 1/15, 1/22, 1/29, 2/5
Why do people seek Yoga Therapy?
Many people seek yoga therapy for a variety of reasons including:
- Understanding and managing trauma and its triggers
- Managing anxiety, depression, and stress
- Managing chronic pain, fatigue, and ongoing physical ailments
- Improve emotional, mental, and/or physical functioning
- Managing symptoms of mental health/mood disorders
Do I need prior experience with yoga?
No prior experience with yoga or meditation is required! This is a very beginner-friendly modality that is truly available to anyone regardless of ability, identity, or experience.
Group Yoga for Survivors Classes
30-Minute Reset for Survivors
Thursdays (beginning January 11th, 2024)
12:15 pm – 12:45 pm
Take a midday break to reset your nervous system with some gentle & mindful movement and breath.
This 30-minute online class is offered via Zoom and is free for all participants (regisration required).
Click HERE to register.
What can I expect at a Yoga for Survivors class?
Yoga for Survivors is a free, trauma-informed, accessible-for-all yoga series designed specifically for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual violence. This series offers guided movement and mindfulness techniques taught in a safe and inclusive environment to support your healing and self-awareness journey. Each week, students will have the opportunity to nurture the connection to mind and body while exploring and releasing the impact of trauma through the movement (asana), breath work (pranayama), focus (dharana), and meditation (dhyana) that is both gentle and restorative.
No prior experience with yoga is required and each class will offer different variations and practices to accommodate the needs and curiosity of each student. Each class is one (1) hour; however, students are encouraged and free to rest whenever needed. It is important to note that Yoga for Survivors is one of many modalities for supporting healing and should not take the place of mental health or medical expertise and support.
Students are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in – if choosing to wear socks during the practice, be careful about slipping! This series also uses a number of props to provide support and care during the practice. Students may use a yoga mat, a chair (without arms if possible), a clean/empty wall, yoga blocks (or full rolls of toilet paper/paper towels), a yoga strap (or scarf, belt, neck tie), 1-2 blankets, bolster/cushion (or couch cushions/throw pillows), yoga sandbag (or Ziploc bag filled with dry beans, sugar, rice, or flour), and an eye pillow (or a wash cloth/hand towel). Props are useful in making our practice more creative, fun, supportive, and interesting so use whatever you have on hand!
Yoga for Survivors is offered as a live series via Zoom. The classroom will open 15 minutes before the beginning of class for students to interact as a community if they wish – this will not be part of the recording. Participants are welcome to join the Zoom class with their video on or off and can utilize either the audio or chat feature before, during, and after class to share or ask questions.
For those who prefer to practice with music, a Spotify playlist will be shared with participants to play during the class if they so choose.
Registration is required and participants must complete the Yoga for Survivors Intake & Consent form if they are new to the yoga program at SARA Roanoke. Once registration is received and the intake is complete, students will receive further information and instructions for accessing the Zoom classroom. Students may also complete an intake via email or in person by contacting Laura Guilliams at 540-345-7273 or email: lguilliams@sararoanoke.
Yoga for Survivors Optional Playlists
We do not play music during Yoga for Survivors since it can be a bit of a challenge over Zoom sometimes, but we totally understand background music can be comforting to some. So, here are a few Spotify playlists you are welcome to play during our class offerings. If you do not have a paid account, though, please be prepared for an occasional ad to chime in during the playlist. You can, of course, play your own music or not play music at all – whatever supports your practice best!
What should I wear?
Students are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in! During stillness and meditation, students may want to have a blanket, shawl, sweater, and/or socks nearby to keep the body comfortable and warm throughout the practice. Just rememember – if choosing to wear socks during asana (movement) practice, be careful about slipping!
What if I've never done yoga before?
No prior experience with yoga or meditation is required! Each class will offer different variations and practices to accommodate the needs of each student no matter their ability or experience.
What if I feel triggered during or after class?
You are in complete control of your practice in our yoga program. We strive to create a safe and trauma-informed environment and recognize that sometimes triggers, emotions, and sensations come up. These classes are designed to hold space for all experiences and empower students to navigate those experiences with care, sensitvity, and support. Students are encouraged and free to rest whenever needed as well as leave at any time if they wish.
Our 24-hour crisis hotline is always available as well by calling 540-981-9352 to talk with a trained advocate if you need to work through any feelings that come up during class.
Please note that yoga is one of many modalities to support healing and should not take the place of mental health or medical expertise and support.
Do I have to complete an intake for each class?
You just need to complete the intake form once, and you’re covered to attend any yoga classes offered by SARA Roanoke. If your needs change, especially regarding health, accessibility, and medication, please let Laura know as soon as you can!
Do I need any special equipment?
Not necessarily! Our programs typically use a number of props to provide support and care during the practice. Students may use a yoga mat, a chair (without arms if possible), a clean/empty wall, yoga blocks (or full rolls of toilet paper/paper towels), a yoga strap (or scarf, belt, neck tie), 1-2 blankets, bolster/cushion (or couch cushions/throw pillows), yoga sandbag (or Ziploc bag filled with dry beans, sugar, rice, or flour), and an eye pillow (or a wash rag/hand towel). Props are useful in making our practice more creative, fun, supportive, and interesting so use whatever you have on hand!
Who teaches these classes?
Laura Guilliams (she/her), MA, RYT-500, C-IAYT has served SARA Roanoke since October 2016 as both Director of Crisis Services (until April 2023) and now as Director of Support Services, providing counseling, advocacy, and yoga therapy for survivors. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication at Radford University, a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership at University of Central Florida, and a 500-hour Yoga Teacher Certification from the Breathing Space in Blacksburg, VA. She is registered with Yoga Alliance, certified in CPR & First Aid, and is a Certified Accessible Yoga Teacher and an Ambassador for Accessible Yoga, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to sharing the teachings and benefits of yoga to marginalized communities through education and advocacy. She completed her 800-hour yoga therapy certification in June 2023 through The Institute for Living Yoga where she also serves as a mentor for current 800-hour yoga therapy students. She is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Through her yoga therapy practice and yoga classes, Laura seeks to provide students and clients with a safe, compassionate, and inclusive space to navigate their own healing through the teachings and practices of yoga as well as neuroscience-based therapeutic approaches.