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Welcome to Shanthi Project’s blog. In the coming months, you will hear about Shanthi Project programs through my posts and those of our program directors, instructors and Board of Directors.
Shanthi Project is in its 6th year, and I’m pleased and proud to share with you that seven of our original instructors are still teaching with us! The demand for our programs has grown so much in the past few years that we now contract with a total of 18 instructors.
I’m so grateful to our trauma-sensitive, therapeutic yoga and mindfulness instructors who are passionate about and reflect our mission clearly. They are the face of Shanthi Project, the very important part of the organization who builds relationships with our clients and navigates our often-hectic teaching venues with proficiency, professionalism, remarkable outcomes, and unparalleled heart.
I’d like to recognize them all right here.
ANN MARIE SERFASS
As human beings, we all have joys and challenges in our lives. We revel in our joyful times and move through the challenging ones maybe alittle smarter or with a few more gray hairs, but we mostly remain grounded, engaged and productive.
This is not necessarily the case for a trauma survivor. Trauma is not just something unpleasant that happens to someone. Our nervous system is pretty good at resetting after getting knocked off balance. No, trauma is different. It’s bad and it can change a life and this is why: Trauma dysregulates normal brain functioning. We can’t see someone’s brain biochemistry, but what we do see are the resulting behaviors that result as a consequence of these brain changes.
Post-traumatic behaviors are things like addiction, eating disorders, self-harming, anxiety, depression and irritability, aggression, unable to trust to form or maintain healthy relationships, and physical problems like chronic stomach pain and headaches and insomnia. In effect, the nervous system doesn’t reset to normal and these behaviors are the brain’s best attempt at coping. These behaviors are also often harmful, are not socially suitable, and are sometimes unlawful, so we see many of our clients in places like prison, juvenile hall, homeless shelters, and recovery centers.
Healing for the trauma survivor comes through a re-learning process in trauma therapy that involves getting to know and feel safe with body and mind. Our evidence-based model of trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness has been shown to reduce symptoms and behaviors in the trauma survivor. Inmates in our program recidivate at a significantly lower rate. Stress and anxiety scores decrease, while self-regulation and resilience increase.
Next time I’ll write about our work in schools. Before then, look for a blog post by our yoga-turned-poetry-workshop facilitator, John Cosgrove. John works with the incarcerated boys and girls at Northampton County Juvenile Treatment.