Trauma Informed Yoga for the Child Welfare Professional

Trauma Informed Yoga for the Child Welfare Professional

Have you ever taken a class on the importance of self-care, but never actually had the opportunity to practice what was taught?  

Bloom Yoga is partnering with The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and The Child Welfare Training System to offer a variety of opportunities for child welfare professionals  to practice SELF-CARE through the practice of yoga! These classes are formatted around experiential learning, meaning that we don’t just offer education–we practice what we teach!

Wellness In the Workplace Is Growing 

A healthier and happier workplace starts with caring about the individuals that work with you. There is also more and more research coming out on yoga’s impacts on Secondary Traumatic Stress, which is a major impact of child welfare work.  

Kaiser Permanente states: “You have an opportunity to improve the health of your employees every day. Making small changes to your workplace and company policies is a great way to start, and it’s where you can make the biggest impact.”

Bloom Yoga believes in supporting the child welfare workforce in combating secondary trauma and stress through education, mindfulness and yoga practices. Additional benefits of mindfulness and yoga in the workplace include:

    • Increased Awareness
    • Improved Mood
    • Reduction of Stress
    • Fights Illness

We cannot take care of others without taking care of ourselves first.

Yoga Through the Colorado Department of Human Services

Classes funded through CDHS are formatted to meet the direct wellness needs of county workers and their teams. These classes, designed for larger groups, teams or entire counties, can include education and research-based learning, or just provide a simple practice as part of staff care and retention plans.

Yoga Through the Child Welfare Training System

Another way individual child welfare professionals can participate is through the Child Welfare Training System. The CWTS class is delivered in a 5-week series focusing on key elements of trauma informed yoga, as well as a full 60-minute yoga practice each week. Participants are able to explore movement, breathing techniques, and mindfulness to help develop a sustainable practice to aid in alleviating and preventing secondary trauma and stress.  

Each week we explore the following topics along with our practice:  

Week 1:  Defining Yoga, Why Yoga, Benefits of Yoga, Research  

Week 2: Nervous System and the Brain

Week 3: Self Awareness 

Week 4: Postures, breathing, and mindfulness; and their impacts on the body

Week 5: Establishing Routines for Prevention of Stress and management of symptoms (Self Care Plans)

Bloom Yoga also offered yoga teachings as part of Child Welfare Workforce Development Month through the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWII) in September 2021.  

What Participants Are Saying

“LOVED everything about it- we learn about self care all the time in child welfare, but we never actually make space for it. This was THE FIRST time in 15 years of working in child welfare that I actually carved out time to learn and put it into practice…THANK YOU, this has changed my life. I wish I could take this every week, forever :)”

“Word’s can’t describe how much I enjoyed this!! I enjoyed the yoga education as much as the actual yoga. The most valuable thing I learned is the breathing techniques which I have started to incorporate throughout my day.”

“The uniqueness of the training series…There’s always talk that caseworkers need to practice self care, but this is the first training I’ve taken where it’s truly the focus.”

Funding for county level offerings is limited, so don’t delay! To schedule a yoga experience, or for more information, contact Sarah Crisafi at Illuminate Colorado.

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Trauma Informed Yoga for the Child Welfare Professional

Trauma Informed Yoga for the Child Welfare Professional

Have you ever taken a class on the importance of self-care, but never actually had the opportunity to practice what was taught?   Bloom Yoga is partnering with The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and The Child Welfare Training System to offer a variety of...

Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Earlier this year, Illuminate Colorado provided these beautiful branded yoga mats to our staff to welcome in the new year. Not only did they make great gifts, but they actively promoted self-care, highlighting a growing--and important--trend in the workplace. The...

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those...

Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Taking Care of Others Starts with Employee Wellness

Earlier this year, Illuminate Colorado provided these beautiful branded yoga mats to our staff to welcome in the new year. Not only did they make great gifts, but they actively promoted self-care, highlighting a growing–and important–trend in the workplace.

The importance of wellness in the workplace is expanding rapidly.  Many companies are starting to realize that a healthier and happier workplace starts with caring about the people who work there–the employees.

Kaiser Permanente states that “you have an opportunity to improve the health of your employees every day. Making small changes to your workplace and company policies is a great way to start, and it’s where you can make the biggest impact.” More business owners are starting to embrace this idea that facilitating the health of their employees is a great investment for the company as a whole.

Employee Well-being Through Yoga  

One way companies are implementing this is by offering yoga, which promotes both mindful awareness and physical fitness.  Many employers are even re-inventing their offices to accommodate its practice.

A 2017 study by the CDC, discussing yoga and mindfulness, found that “the benefits to everyone involved ripple out from a productive workplace, to a happy home, a more energetic life, and hopefully, a more compassionate society.”

Some other benefits that were found through this study on mindfulness and yoga in the workplace were:

  • increased awareness,
  • improved mood,
  • reduction of stress and
  • fights illness.

But yoga isn’t the only option for employee wellness. There are numerous other ways that employers can promote wellness and self-care for their employees, including:

  • accessible fitness,
  • education,
  • benefits,
  • lunches,
  • breaks,
  • team building,
  • massage,
  • cards and notes from supervisors,
  • gifts,
  • time off,
  • flexibility and so much more.

Support Wellness Where You Work

We offer free yoga to all of our employees at Illuminate Colorado, along with yoga mats, through our Bloom Yoga program and you can too. This is just one small way that we are supporting our employees at Illuminate Colorado and making sure that we’re all able to do the important work that we do every day.

How are you taking care of the people around you?  Be creative and support wellness where you work!

Contact us to learn more about opportunities to partner with Bloom Yoga through trainings, classes or other support in the workplace.

Sarah Crisafi is the program manger for Bloom Yoga at Illuminate Colorado.

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Yoga and Post-Traumatic Growth

Over the last five years, the number of children in Colorado experiencing sexual abuse has steadily risen. Seven percent of the 286,534 allegations of child maltreatment in Colorado over the last five years involved concerns of sexual abuse; 28 percent of those concerns involved male children and 72 percent female children. However, it is also believed that child sexual abuse is significantly under-reported. National experts estimate that one in 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18, and 90 percent of children who experience sexual abuse know their abuser.

The Consequences 

The long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse are numerous, ranging from poor self-image to increased risk of mental health issues and suicide. Because sexual abuse is an extreme violation of an individual’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and familial integrity, it contributes to many conditions that confront adult survivors, including homelessness, addiction, obesity, chronic illness and depression.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reported to be five times more likely in survivors of childhood sexual abuse compared to the general population. Children who have been sexually abused exhibit more posttraumatic fear, anxiety, and concentration problems than do their non-abused peers.

Healing Through Yoga

Dr. John Hopper at Harvard Medical School reports that the key for promoting healing for childhood sexual abuse is:

  • Establishing safety and stability in one’s body, one’s relationships, and the rest of one’s life.
  • Tapping into and developing one’s own inner strengths, and any other potentially available resources for healing.
  •  Learning how to regulate one’s emotions and manage symptoms that cause suffering or make one feel unsafe.
  • Developing and strengthening skills for managing painful and unwanted experiences, and minimizing unhelpful responses to them.

Those familiar with Yoga practices and philosophy will immediately recognize that Yoga is an ideal opportunity to initiate, build, and integrate mindfulness and body-focused practices to address symptoms of childhood sexual abuse.

Trauma-Informed Yoga is a natural environment to create a safe space for healing. Yoga promotes the learning of “interoceptive awareness,” a fancy way of saying awareness of feelings and sensations in the body.  Often times, survivors have turned away from feelings and sensations as a way of survival.  Yoga can teach survivors how to “befriend” the body and to get to know the associated sensations and feelings, which helps them to make conscious changes and have more choice and control over their own lives.  Yoga also incorporates relaxation techniques, coping skills and empowering philosophy which can also aid in the development of post traumatic growth.

For more information on how yoga can be used to build brighter childhoods and the different ways that you can get involved, visit Bloom Yoga’s webpage.

 

Alongside Healing Comes Prevention

It’s not all just about healing. It’s important to also focus on the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. The Tipping Point Initiative encourages all Coloradans to take the Darkness to Light Stewards of Children® training, the only evidence-informed, adult-focused child sexual abuse prevention program in the United States proven to increase knowledge and change behavior. Adults learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse and feel empowered to spread their knowledge within the community. Visit the website to learn more.

Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

Yoga and Mindfulness: Six Benefits for Kids

Did you know that yoga is great for kids? More and more studies are showing the numerous benefits that come from yoga and mindfulness. And we’re not just talking about flexibility, although it definitely helps with that, too! Yoga for children can be powerful. The elements of yoga—visualization, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and movement—give children skills to reduce stress and find balance in their hearts and minds.

Let’s take a deeper look at six of the hidden benefits that these practices can provide our children. 

Six Benefits for Kids

1. Builds Confidence

Yoga is a naturally non-competitive environment that can build confidence in all ages, shapes, and abilities.  Whether your child is an active athlete just looking to increase flexibility, or a bookworm with little interest in sports, yoga provides an environment to introduce new physical challenges in a safe and all-accepting environment.  Overcoming challenges ON a yoga mat, can lead to overcoming challenges OFF the yoga mat, increasing overall confidence. 

2. Decreases Anxiety

Yoga and Mindfulness are researched and known for their ability to regulate the physiological systems associated with anxiety.  When we use yoga to decrease a physiological response, such as reducing heart rate, we can have more control over our stress response systems. 

 “There is also evidence that yoga practice help increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly.”  -Harvard Medical School

3. Builds Focus and Concentration

Yoga encourages present moment awareness.  When faced with a physical challenge in yoga, it’s almost impossible to think about the past or dwell on the future.  As children practice yoga, they develop the ability to focus on the situation at hand, which helps them with school and other problem-solving tasks. 

4. Promotes Self-Care

Building a foundation of this practice in childhood is essential.  Children can learn about healthy habits early so they are more likely to continue that practice into adulthood.  Time spent during yoga may be the only time a child spends focusing on caring for themselves.  It’s so empowering to have a child know the benefit of a deep breath or know how to keep their body healthy. 

5. Increases Self-Awareness

Yoga has a way of helping us get to know our inner self, feelings, thoughts, and sensations. Without paying attention to these things, we may not be able to shift or change them, if we wanted to.  This is called Introspection and is the idea that you can pay attention to what is going on inside your body and mind.  Without self-awareness, we tend to respond unconsciously to things.  Yoga and Mindfulness helps us to shift so that children are making more informed decisions about their bodies and responses to stress.

6. Builds Balance and Flexibility

You do not have to be a pretzel to increase flexibility through the practice of yoga.  In fact, you don’t even have to consider yourself “flexible” to start a practice.  When you start incorporating yoga movements in your body, such as forward folding, twists, and balances, you increase the body’s intelligence by improving flexibility.  You increase the range of movement in your body, building new neural pathways in the brain, as well as pathways in the muscles and tissues in your body.

“After 8 weeks, the average flexibility of the yoga group improved by 13 percent to 35 percent and the gains were significantly greater than the non-yoga group.” – A study by the American Council on Exercise

As you can see, yoga and mindfulness can be instrumental in how we raise children of the future to be healthy, well-regulated, and responsible members of our communities. So next time you’re looking for something fun to do with your kiddos, try yoga!

To read more about Bloom Yoga, visit our webpage. And for some great yoga activities to try out, visit our Bloom Yoga YouTube playlist.

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Partner Poses are a fun way to build your yoga routine at home! Kids and Teens love these poses because they are interactive and leave room for a lot of connection and laughter.

Partner poses can build focus, teamwork, and empathy — all essential skills we want to teach our kids. 

As you think about partnering with your child, be sure to demonstrate a sense of humor so everyone knows it’s okay to be silly and have fun!  We tend to think you have to be “good” or “flexible” to do yoga, but that’s not what it’s about.  Yoga accepts you where you are. Enjoy the moment, try your best, and keep you and your body safe. Most of all, have fun. 

We love Yoga Pretzel cards by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish!

Some fun partner poses are demonstrated in our video HERE.

These are some of the fun poses we used:

      • Double Dog
      • Back to Back Chair
      • Double Tree (Forest)
      • Partner Seated Twist
      • Airplane
      • Double Gate
      • Double Plank

Trauma-Informed Yoga Tip: Always give your child the option to be touched prior to partner poses or games.  Choice is important for children when learning about their bodies and healthy boundaries.  Always talk first!

A Bloom Yoga Partner Relaxation Activity: Back Writing

Take a seat behind your child and use your index finger to firmly write letters, shapes, or words on their back. Have them guess what you have written or drawn. Or have them draw or write it down themselves on a piece of paper. Take turns guessing what you write on each other’s backs! Connect and relax!

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