Yoga as Healing for Survivors

March 21, 2018
7:00 to 8:30 PM
USF Campus (not UCSF)

Zen garden with balanced rocks

The UCSF CARE Program will be offering another series of FREE Trauma Informed Yoga classes to UCSF affiliates who identify as survivors of sexual and/or interpersonal violence.  Classes will be held on USF’s campus.

Free 8-week course
Open to any UCSF affiliate
Wednesdays: March 21 - May 9
7pm - 8:30pm

This program will explore reconnection to the self through mind, body, and spirit and will provide survivors a means of becoming reacquainted with their bodies, help them become grounded in the present moment, and allow them to explore the benefits of mindfulness as they flow breath to movement in guided practice meditation.

What is Trauma-Informed Yoga?

Regardless of the nature of the traumatic incident, survivors may suffer from physical pain and emotional unrest after experiencing a trigger, or as a chronic underpinning of their daily activities. There is no doubt that trauma impacts brain functioning. After experiencing trauma, the amygdala goes into overdrive and anticipates danger even when there is none. Trauma can leave the body feeling dis-regulated and unsafe. Trauma-informed yoga is an empowering yoga practice that prioritizes the lived experience and healing of the survivor. Trust, safety, choice, and control are central to the practice. Below is a list of the core components of trauma- informed yoga:

  • Empowerment-based language
  • No physical assists
  • Natural breathing
  • Give students space to explore the postures
  • Themes to aid in healing
  • Create a safe experience
  • Provide a supportive presence
  • Sensitivity to triggers

Memories of violent experiences can create challenges for survivors. These memories can also be an obstacle to establishing connection and learning how to trust again. The experience of practicing yoga, can help survivors find union between seemingly disconnected and challenging aspects of the self; allowing participants to slowly build the pieces into an integrated whole.

Yoga’s focus on self-acceptance provides survivors with tangible benefits that will become noticeable throughout their practice. This gradual integration can be transformational and healing for a survivor.

Program Structure

Yoga as Healing is an 8-week program. Class will be held on the University of San Francisco, campus (not at UCSF.)  Each class offers survivors a safe space to gain greater awareness around strength, stability, assertiveness, and mindfulness. Classes will have different themes, focus on various restorative postures, build strength in the core, and will also be coupled with guided activities including de-briefing exercises, journaling, and art.

Schedule & Logistics

Wednesdays: 7pm - 8:30pm

Session Theme
3/21 Intention (and orientation)
3/28 Safety
4/4 Mindfulness
4/11 Boundaries
4/18 Assertiveness
4/25 Strength
5/2 Trust
5/9 Acceptance and Community

What to Bring:

Please bring a water bottle. We will provide everything else you need for class including a yoga mat.


Class is held at University of San Francisco (USF) in the University Center. The University Center is on the main campus and can be accessed from the visitor entrance on Golden Gate Avenue between Kittredge Terrace and Roselyn Terrace. There is paid parking available on the Main Campus. MUNI bus #43 goes from the UCSF Parnassus campus to USF.

Classes will allow survivors to re-connect with themselves and build community with their peers.  Classes will establish consistency and each class will build upon the previous week’s class.

Survivor Testimonials
  • "Since the assault, I've regarded my body as something almost like a traitor or foreign. This program has helped me feel more comfortable in my skin. I feel strong and beautiful. I feel like I'm in control of my body again."
  • "I gained my body, spirit, and mind back. I gained confidence, openness, and courage. I gained strength, assertiveness, and knowledge to carry me for a lifetime. I gained myself back."
  • "This program helped me find my inner voice. Peace. Some courage to be myself and communicate my needs/wants to others. I'm learning how to speak up for myself. This yoga class has changed my life."
  • "Prior to the program, I was having difficulty with eating. When I would get stressed, either emotionally or with school, I would have a panic attack and eat until I ‘felt better.’ I felt that the satisfaction from eating, as if I was hungry, calmed me down. I have gained 30 pounds since I was raped, but I am proud to say that since the beginning of yoga, I have been able to control my emotions way better and have stopped eating/binging. "
  • "Because of this yoga program, I was able to become intimate with my boyfriend again. Because of this yoga program, I was able to feel like I was whole again in a way I could not recognize. Because of this yoga program, I was able to move from a place of anger to a place of forgiveness and inner-peace."
  • “Along with yoga, I am also attending counseling in which, because of yoga, I have been able to open up more when it comes to talking and expressing myself.”
  • “For the first time, in a really, really long time- I feel like my body is my own.”

Classes and class materials are FREE.  Program is open to anyone from complete beginners to advanced yoga practitioners.

Applications are due no later than March 14th •

Interest Form Process

Please have interested parties complete the application and assessment form answering as much or as little as is comfortable.

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Applicants will be notified when their completed applications have been received. If they are new to the CARE Program, we will schedule one in-person check-in before classes start.

Please contact Denise Caramagno with any questions or concerns, and thank you for spreading the word.