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A yoga class is being offered at Younique Yoga in Schererville (pictured in 2013) for trauma survivors.

Tony V. Martin, Times file photo

A community yoga class is being offered for trauma survivors in Northwest Indiana.

The instructor says research has found that yoga can relieve the feelings of trauma.

"A lot of symptoms around trauma are similar to those around anxiety," said Kelly Bishop Bohren, a psychotherapist and yoga teacher who is certified in trauma-informed yoga. "When we're anxious, we tend to carry our breaths in the upper portion of our chest. Yoga teaches us how to bring our breath back into the lower lungs and belly. It helps to regulate being in the present moment, grounded, connected with ourselves."

Bishop Borhen offers Circle of Hope, a donation-based trauma-informed yoga class, once a month in Schererville. She hopes to eventually expand it to twice monthly as well as Porter County.

Many trauma survivors experience increased stress hormones, hypervigilance and hyperarousal, often known as the"fight or flight" response. Bishop Bohern said yoga helps reduce fear and arousal, slows the resting heart rate and calms the autonomic nervous system.

Research has found that brain pathways responsible for body-based feelings are underactive in people who have experienced trauma. Yoga can counteract that, she said, by making us recognize the feelings in our bodies.

"When we experience trauma, we disconnect from our body," she said. "Yoga helps to create sensory awareness and self-awareness."

At the start of the classes, group members can share their experiences with trauma. Trauma-informed yoga meets people "where they're at," Bishop Bohren said, and gives participants the choice whether to participate in each of the poses. It's much more hands-off than regular yoga.

She also noted that "yoga itself is not therapy" but that "it augments the therapy process."


Health reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.