Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® for Self-Regulation & Trauma Healing
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154 Tiny Beaches Rd North, Tiny, Ontario (ON) L0L 2J0
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Marika Paquin
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Canada, Ontario (ON)
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Mental Health Assessment and Treatment
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Supportive Therapies
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>Yoga is said to be one of the best adjunct treatments for PTSD. Sensory Enhanced Yoga applies findings from the fields of occupational therapy, neurobiology, trauma psychology and yoga to promote healing from ombat stress, PTSD, anxiety and related mental health conditions. Sensory Enhanced Yoga helps meet the following goals: Effectively manage stress, Develop emotional resiliency, Decrease hypervigilance and overreaction to sensory input, Improve quality of sleep and energy levels, Decrease intrusive thoughts, Enhance one’s sense of self-worth and personal empowerment
>Prevention: Our evidence informed program was studied on an active military base in Iraq and was found to significantly reduce state and trait anxiety, and improve 16/18 health & quality of life factors. This suggests that regular practice of Sensory-Enhance Yoga may potentially preempt the development of PTSD in combat stress situations.
>Preparation/Planning: Sensory-Enhance Yoga helps individuals to self regulate their state of arousal to be able to effectively meet a challenge and to calm oneself once the challenge has passed.
>Education: The Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® Institute (SEYI) is a professional educational organization that trains yoga instructors, yoga therapists, licensed health professionals, and educators in the evidence informed practices of Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® and also directly serves traumatized and highly stressed populations (such as military veterans, emergency responders, victims of sexual trauma, victims of domestic violence, and students with special needs) through outreach efforts, program development and operation, and research.
>Sensory-Enhanced Yoga can be a highly effective adjunct to traditional treatment approaches. One needs to prepare the body (i.e. self regulate) so that talk therapy can be more effective. During crisis intervention, it is important to work together with a mental health professional when delivering this service. Our 5-week Part-1, 12.5-hour Webinar Series presents the science and theory behind Sensory-Enhanced Yoga® and how and why it can be especially effective for addressing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, mixed anxiety/depression, and related mental health conditions, particularly in veterans. Our 12.5-hour Part 2 Webinar Series presents the practice of Sensory-Enhanced Yoga®, including the yoga forms and movements (both mat and chair versions), specialized breathing practices, how to effectively sequence the practice, the purpose and use of counter-forms, and yoga form modifications. The sessions include demonstration, practice, partner work, and discussion. The series culminates in a large group experiential lab.
>The Canadian Project is designed to followup at 3, 6, 12 & 24 months. There are elements of the guidelines that specifically address stabilization both during, shortly following and even decades following the crisis (e.g. evidenced in Vietnam veterans). Please note that Sensory- Enhance Yoga is relevant for all stages of the 3PE. Multiple studies by Streeter et al. have shown that yoga can increase GABA levels in the brain which help to correct the negative brain changes that occur with PTSD. One of those studies showed that weekly yoga was necessary in order to maintain those beneficial changes. Therefore we advocate ongoing weekly Sensory-Enhanced Yoga practice as an important component of a healthy lifestyle.
>Our Transdisciplinary Model for Post Traumatic Growth specifically outlines a progression from healing on the mat to developing a sense of self empowerment off the mat. One component of our program (Guideline 5) and the Wellness Survey takes the practice off the mat and into the world. When we teach yoga teachers in this system, we encourage them to develop a referral network to mental health occupational therapists and other mental health professionals who can facilitate the process of reintegration. When we teach yoga teachers in this system, we encourage them to develop a referral network to mental health occupational therapists and other mental health professionals who can facilitate the process of reintegration.

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>The program skillfully synthesizes theoretical concepts and research findings from the fields of occupational therapy, trauma psychology, neuroscience and traditional Eastern Yogic philosophy to produce a Transdisciplinary Model for Post-Traumatic Growth for healing symptoms of combat stress, PTSD, or other unresolved trauma or anxiety disorders. The model is implemented through careful adherence to 5 guidelines of practice. The science, theory and practice of Sensory-Enhanced Yoga is thoroughly articulated in the book called “Sensory-Enhanced Yoga for Self-Regulation and Trauma Healing” (Stoller, 2019, Handspring Publishing).
>We teach specific yoga forms/movements, breathing techniques and meditation practices designed to lead a person though stages of feeling increasingly more safe, calm, clear, uplifted and eventually empowered.
>It is anticipated that the Sensory-Enhanced Yoga Canadian Project training will not only stabilize these yoga teacher participants who are veterans or military members or family members, but also that they in turn will be passing this on to their peers by offering regular Sensory-Enhanced Yoga classes within military communities and to veterans within local communities.
>The Integration/Resources section of the Wellness Survey for Post Traumatic Growth includes questions that identify whether the person finds meaning in the work they do, have hobbies or other interests that bring them comfort or joy, whether the person can find momentary peace through appreciation of nature, feel a sense of empowerment in the areas of life that are most important to them, and so on. These are questions that are meant to be stepping off points for further discussion. These are stepping stones to improved mental health and improved ability to use mental health therapy.

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>We present a 34 question pre & post survey to evaluate the degree of knowledge translation.
>A doctoral dissertation was recently completed that resulted in the first the fidelity measure for the program. We also perform pre-and-post testing for certain programs.
>We are in the planning stages of developing methodologies for measuring the results and performance of our stabilization programs. Thus far we only have conducted immediate post-tests in the Iraq Yoga Study. We have developed a Wellness Survey for Post-Traumatic Growth that we hope to use as one of several measurement tools for long term post testing.
>We plan to followup at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months.

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