You might not know that for the past nine years I co-lead Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY) sessions for a study at the Atlanta VA Medical Center to compare the effects of TSY versus the gold-standard intervention for treating PTSD in women veterans with military sexual trauma. Our study ended in the early months of the pandemic, and the results are in. TSY is just as effective, with better retention and cost effectiveness, making it a viable alternative to current treatment options. The preliminary findings were published today in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Trauma Sensitive Yoga won, y'all.
I'm so grateful to co-facilitators Holle Black, Veronica Lewinger, and Stephanie Miedema. We did it. Together. Thank you to Dave Emerson, author of the first book on Trauma Sensitive Yoga, for the stellar supervision, to the research team for holding it all together, and to Primary Investigator Ursula Kelly for making this whole thing happen. Most of all, gratitude for the women veterans who participated in this study, for their courage, commitment, generosity, and willingness to do the hard things. It's been an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity.
"This study is the first RCT to use yoga as a comparator to a gold standard treatment for PTSD, rather than using an attention or wait list control. The use of a first-line treatment as the control condition in this RCT provides stronger and potentially more clinically relevant implications. Other studies have examined the efficacy of yoga for PTSD compared with wait list control,45 health education,30 wellness programs,44 or other alternative modalities but not with evidence-based therapies. The authors wanted to compare TCTSY with the best evidence gold standard, with the goal of establishing a viable PTSD treatment alternative, given the significant limitations of the current best practices, namely engagement, retention, and initial symptom exacerbation before improvement. The finding that one treatment was not more effective than the other supports TCTSY as a viable alternative to current evidence-based psychotherapeutic treatment options, which suffer from 80% to 90% attrition and incomplete symptom resolution for many in clinical practice.17 In this study, retention in TCTSY exceeded that of CPT by more than 25%. In addition, yoga delivered in a group setting is less costly than CPT provided in group or individual formats, the latter being more common in VA clinical settings." - https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/acm.2020.0417
My participation in this study has been the seed of my Trauma Sensitive Yoga private practice. I am currently only seeing clients virtually via Zoom or FaceTime, and will continue to offer virtual appointments as well as in-person appointments once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. If you would like more information about TSY for yourself or someone else who might benefit, please visit my website: TSYAtlanta.com or give me a call at 404-202-3929.
Join me for Gentle Attention, a 4 session virtual retreat series to help you reconnect with your body and clarify your intentions for the transition to a more active way of life and beyond. Together we will create a container of compassion and self care through simple ritual, therapeutic yoga, and journaling prompts. No prior experience is necessary to participate. People of all shapes, sizes, genders, and abilities are most welcome.
Dates: Mondays April 5, 12, 19, 26, 2021
Time: 6:15 - 7:15 pm EST
Fee: Sliding Scale $80 – 120.
Requested Yoga Props: a yoga mat, 3 or more thick blankets, 2 bed pillows (or a yoga bolster if you have one), 2 yoga blocks or small pillows, 1 yoga strap or bathrobe tie, 1 chair without arms
Additional Items: a candle, matches or a lighter, your favorite aromatherapy oil or lotion, a journal and something to write with, and anything else that would make you feel more comfortable
Click here to reserve your spot!
Disclaimer: This blog post is about a Hunger Scale, used to measure how hungry you are in any given moment and determine what food would be most satisfying. They are a part of the practice of Intuitive Eating. If you are experiencing food insecurity and/or are under-housed, where your choices about food and options to prepare it are limited, Hunger Scales are, at the least, ineffective. I acknowledge my privilege in using Hunger Scales.
A friend once told me not to let myself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I try to follow that sage advice as much as I can. Learning to be aware of my breath when I’m angry has helped me to stay focused and not throw the kitchen sink into arguments. Picking up the phone and dialing a friend eases my loneliness, when I remember to do it (relentlessly scrolling my FaceBook feed, however, does not). And naps are a godsend.
Hunger is a trickier beast for me, as it can feed other emotions like anger, loneliness, and exhaustion (yes, in my world tired is a feeling), causing them (and me) to burst into flame like a forest fire. I remember once, in an argument with my partner that seemed to be going in vicious circles for longer than necessary, they urged me to eat something. “Let’s just stop for a moment so you can have a peanut butter sandwich. We can start fighting again afterwards.” I was infuriated that they would even suggest something like that, especially when I was feeling so damn small and unloveable (arguing does that to me). However, it worked. Once my blood sugar became balanced, I could listen to reason. And tearfully work things out.
So here is my Hunger Scale. Because I’m not a Numbers Person (they freak me out!), I use phrases. Maybe they will sound familiar to you:
Snack Hungry - I find myself nibbling on various and sundry snacky foods or finishing the leftovers in the fridge. I’m not quite yet ready for a meal, or maybe it’s too early for dinner. Snack Hungry can trigger a Grazing Episode, where I mindlessly eat a lot of things over a sometimes short period of time in order to distract myself (some people call that a binge).
Meal Hungry - I know I need to eat a meal and it’s a good time in my schedule to do that. I have the patience and resources to purchase necessary ingredients if need be, the creativity to think of something to make, and the time, energy, and resources to cook for myself. Cooking feels like fun and is an act of self-care. I may have a snack while I’m preparing my meal, but it usually doesn’t lead to grazing.
Restaurant Hungry - I am hungry and don’t have the energy, patience, or time to cook for myself. My creativity is dwindling and my self doubt is gaining ground. The thought of food is taking the majority of my attention, and I need to eat soon. If I have the funds available, I will go to a restaurant for a meal. Otherwise, I will go home and find something there. I may have some initial difficulty making a decision about where and what to eat, but I am able to feel confident in my choices once I do.
Fast Food Hungry - I am really hungry and need to eat quickly, yet I can’t seem to decide what or where to eat. Fast food may be a good option at this point simply because it is fast. And I need to eat. Fast. Self doubt is hampering any ideas I have about solving this problem and I am mercilessly criticizing myself for every choice I make around food (especially fast food). By the time I figure out what to eat, I am emotionally overwrought. I may find myself eating in my car just to get food in me quickly. I may not even enjoy the food I'm eating. Once I have eaten, I often crave sweets for the rest of the day. A Grazing Episode may follow.
Gas Station Hungry - All bets are off and I am searching for the closest, quickest thing to eat that will satisfy me until I can have a meal. Whatever I end up eating is usually intensely salty and is washed down by something intensely sweet - i.e. a packet of cheese crackers and a soda, foods that are readily available at convenience stores. At this point I often feel incredibly guilty about eating these foods, because “I should be making better choices.” My emotions are all over the map and I am really tired. My eating feels really disorganized for the rest of the day, and I am usually critical of whatever else I do eat.
Using this Hunger Scale helps me stay connected to my body. I use it to gauge my feelings around food and what I need to do to take care of myself. How does this Hunger Scale resonate for you?
New website, new blog. This post originally appeared on my old website in 2014.
The message still stands, so I thought I would put it out there again. I hope you enjoy it!
PS - We are in Mercury Retrograde until 2/20/21
We recently came out of Mercury Retrograde, a time when people in the New Age and other spiritual communities generally freak the hell out. I’ve been told to avoid signing contracts, expect travel to be difficult, cars to crash, and arguments to ensue during a retrograde period.
To some, the best thing to do during Mercury Retrograde is go hide under a rock and wait ‘til it’s over.
But just like the tides, energy ebbs and flows. And the fact of the matter is that life has to go on, whether the wind is at our back, propelling us along or blowing our hair back with gale force.
Magical thinking that claims things can only be one way in order to be successful merely leads to the roller coaster of anxiety and depression that fuels my tendencies toward perfectionism. (Who, me?)
So here are a few simple suggestions for ways you can use the energy of Mercury Retrograde to your advantage the next time it rolls around. Because I can assure you, there will be a next time.
A Mercury Retrograde is a great time to let go of stuff that’s dragging you down. But instead of trying to tackle the whole enchilada, try picking one simple, small task and go from there. Once that one is completed to your liking, give yourself a small reward. For instance, during this past retrograde, I went through our entire pantry and threw out anything that was outdated.
I inventoried the canned goods, consolidated the plastic storage bags, and refilled the dry goods canisters, literally releasing the stale energy that was inhabiting my shelves, and, metaphorically, my life.
Then, using the ingredients I discovered in my now organized cabinet, I made cookies. And ate them.
They were delicious, by the way.
A Mercury Retrograde is a wonderful time to rekindle old friendships from the past. We all change and grow, and sometimes that means our relationships change, too. Why not call that friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months and just catch up? Or reconnect with that former co-worker and do a little networking?
You could set the wheels in motion for some interesting opportunities in the future.
Now I’m not encouraging you to call up that ex-lover who did you wrong, you know, the one you can’t seem to get off of your mind, and attempt to get back together. Or at least arrange one last booty call. But if you do, and it goes awry, just blame it on the planets and move on.
It is Mercury Retrograde, after all.
Finally, take a moment to slow down and ease up on your expectations.
Things might break during a retrograde, but, then again, they might break outside of one, too. And, while it’s probably an inconvenience, it’s most likely not the end of the world, as much as my brain (and probably yours, too) would like to think it is.
So give yourself some slack and do what you need to do so the repairs can get done. Because everyone knows how much broken stuff can disrupt your chi in Feng Shui.
If you’re into that.
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
- Dr. Maya Angelou
I haven’t written a blog post in a while. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. Lord knows, I’ve started about a million of them! Some of them are languishing on notes I’ve made to myself on paper napkins, some are stored away in files on my computer, and then there are the ones rolling around in my head...
The truth is, I’ve been a little disconnected lately. For the past few months, despite politics and the pandemic and the variety of stressors they bring to the table, things have been good. Wonderful things have been happening in my life, and I am immensely grateful for the deep connections, teachings, and experiences that are always coming my way.
But somewhere inside all of this joyful giving and receiving, some part of me just shut down. In my souped-up schedule of busy-ness, I didn’t seem to have the time to take time to reflect. My body went a little numb, and my brain went into that black and white thinking of ‘either you’re super-busy and successful, or you’ve got nothing to do and a failure – there is no in between.’ And in that shift, I lost sight of the balance that makes me who I am.
It’s that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that whatever is happening, it’s not going to be enough to last. So I start looking for the other shoe to drop, at times even searching for a shoe and dropping it myself, to somehow control the pain of failure that I know is inevitable. Or I start grasping, gripping onto people, places, and things, as if they are life rafts in this sea of uncertainty. As if the solidness of their outsides could somehow anchor the waves rolling around inside me. I know myself enough now to know my patterns, and I see this reflected in the way I choose to eat, spend money, spend time, nurture myself, and rest.
But my real failure here is that I forgot to remember that there is no one thing that is going to sustain me all of the time. That the beauty of the Universe is that it is a constant cycle of creativity and rest, and that in every moment of the cycle, I have exactly what I need. That home is just a breath away, a simple shift back to my own internal compass.
So how do I bring myself back to balance? First and foremost, I get really clear that I’m not here to judge, criticize, or be harsh with myself. I quietly open the door to my heart and survey the landscape. I take small steps to reset my surroundings and the rest of my life. I get a bag of clothes or shoes together to donate. I clean the bathroom. I cook something nourishing and delicious. I make sure to get some movement in, whether it’s walking, dancing, or yoga-ing. I try to connect with myself in the moment, noticing what is working and what is not. And little by little, step by step, I find myself coming back to my center.
Little by little, step by step, I find myself coming home.
Stacey Beth Shulman is the Wake Up Fairy for your Soul. As a Gentle Activist, Subtle Disruptor, Intuitive Creatrix, and Deep See Diver, she uses her superpower of compassionate intimacy to create brave spaces for people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and abilities to experience joyful movement, restful stillness, and attuned eating with pleasure and delight. Click here to get in touch.