January 27, 2010

Project Haiti: Yoga 4 Trauma.

Maggie Juliano of Sprout Yoga and Sue Jones of YogaHope have rallied the yoga troops to create Project Haiti: Yoga 4 Trauma to provide long term self-sustaining mind-body trauma recovery programs to aid those suffering the affects of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  This newly formed project has been galvanizing the yoga and trauma community and has even caught notice of Deepak Chopra who will be interviewing Sue Jones on his radio show.  Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is also on board offering to provide facilities to train 30 first response program leaders this September.

This project isn’t the first time that yoga will be used to help heal survivors of a natural disaster.  Small studies have shown that yoga was very helpful in therapy for hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami in Indonesia.  Knowing this, Sue and Maggie tag teamed leaders in the yoga service arena, including those who started Yoga Service Council. “We see the direct impact of yoga on trauma survivors in our work in the U.S.,” says Sue.  “We know that Yoga is a portable, free therapy that can be used by anyone of any physical ability.”  Project Haiti builds on the studies from Katrina and the Tsunami and incorporates the developments of trauma informed yoga service providers such as Street Yoga. The situation in Haiti presents special problems in trauma relief services as the relief workers, including first responders, are themselves traumatized by the stressful conditions in Haiti from the numerous aftershocks, lack of medical support, and lack of food.  These effects of trauma on the helpers are referred to as “secondary trauma.”

Project Haiti plans to aid the primary and secondary trauma survivors of Haiti after the first wave of rebuilding Haiti, including infrastructure and support, has been established.  With the expertise of Program Leaders Mark Lilly of Street Yoga, Jennifer Cohen of Little Flower Yoga and David Emerson of Trauma Center, Maggie and Sue are working collaboratively to develop a model of establishing self-sustaining long term mind-body trauma recovery programs in already established partners on the ground, such as Partners in Health and Mercy Corps.  These programs, which will be supported by Trauma Center and JRI Health, will empower the local Haitian community leaders to continue running and growing the program and also involve local Boston-area Haitian communities.  “Those who live through trauma can have decreased ability to make decisions, and plan for the future,” says Maggie.  “That means that rebuilding the nation will require some program like yoga that heals the part of the psyche involved with decision making, so that the people of Haiti have the ability to take these massive changes in infrastructure in, and make plans for the future.”

The goal of this group is to create a model of self-sustaining and effective trauma responsive programming for adult and children trauma survivors as well as secondary trauma victims such as care givers and health care workers. Haiti will serve as springboard and allow for development of programs in trauma ravaged nations worldwide. How can you help keep the momentum going and support this organization?  Project Haiti is currently looking for yoga mats and props and of course donations.  Encourage your local studio to have a fund raising class or a donation box to support this terrific cause.  In addition they are taking resumes for the first group of volunteers/teachers/aids to get trained and be on the ground in Haiti.

For more information on how to donate, how to apply and to stay current on the rapidly changing developments with Project Haiti see their blog.

Check out the video below to learn more about yogaHOPE:

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