Yoga for the mind and body
To say that it is difficult to cope with physical and sexual abuse is an understatement. It is one of the hardest things that any woman can do to move on from the pain of that experience. Because of the difficulty of letting go of such a traumatic experience, it is important to use the resources designed to aid in that process.
Gina Schneider, an attorney and yoga instructor, is looking to add one such resource. Her non-profit program Will Yoga, will offer free yoga classes to women who have been the victims of physical and sexual abuse. To quote Schneider, “Yoga has obvious benefits for everyone. It’s great exercise. But it has benefits for victims of physical and sexual abuse especially.”
“Why is yoga a better benefit than simply going for a jog?,” one might ask. Fair question. A major part of yoga is the unification of the mind with the body. “Victims of abuse, often divorce the mind from the body, in a way. Yoga helps bridge that gap and allow women to reconnect with their bodies.” Instead of feeling helpless like many victims of abuse, the practices provide the women with both the physical confidence that comes with exercise and inner peace from being in tune with their bodies. In addition, yoga has long been touted as a calming practice. The breathing techniques that yogis utilized have long been known to decrease stress levels. If anyone is in need of decreased stress levels, it’s the victims of abuse.
Her studio will offer an alternative from similar programs that have come before. For starters, Schneider emphasizes the importance of holding her classes in a studio as opposed to a shelter or home, where many classes for abuse victims take place. “Those places are associated with negative experiences and fleeing for safety, and it is best to practice yoga with a free mind, without distractions. It’s hard to do that in a shelter.” Schneider’s studio will provide a place for women to escape from their place to escape, where they can focus exclusively on practicing yoga.
Schneider plans to provide more than just instruction. She is currently trying to leverage a deal to provide her students with their own yoga outfits. “Many of the women who are in the shelters don’t have any other clothes with them. Often, those clothes belong to, or at least smell like, the men that were their abusers. I want to give them different clothes to practice in. Also, yoga clothes look pretty.” That last point should not be overlooked according to Schneider. “Abuse makes women feel like less than women. Every woman should feel pretty. Also, if we provide the outfits, there won’t be any self-consciousness amongst the women about what they’re wearing.”
It is unknown when Schneider’s studio will open, but it is obvious that when it does come out, it will change women’s lives.