Exhale to Inhale
Photo: Courtesy of Mahina Choy
Over the years, Yoga has ballooned into an immensely popular practice around the country — and for good reason. It benefits our physical and mental well-being, promoting spiritual balance while it strengthens and stretches our bodies. Zoë LePage was a long-time lover of yoga and had already recognized it as a therapeutic tool. But after she learned that several loved ones in her life had suffered trauma from sexual assault, she suspected that it could also be used to help survivors heal.
LePage founded Exhale to Inhale in 2013 to honor of them and empower survivors of domestic and sexual assault through yoga. With specialized classes, they help survivors mitigate their trauma while learning mindful, meditative techniques.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that one in three women will experience violence in a relationship—and many assaults that do occur go unreported. The trauma that follows can make victims feel ashamed, scared, and regretful, especially when it comes to their bodies.
Exhale to Inhale’s yoga and mindfulness practices provide tools to help reconcile those feelings. Unlike conventional practices, the movements and flows are designed to help individuals connect with their bodies and feel comfortable with themselves in a safe atmosphere. They also partner with local shelters so they can bring the practices straight to survivors.
In addition to the classes, they also hold teacher trainings year-round so that other instructors can learn trauma-informed yoga methodologies. As LePage learned during her research, the processes and approach to trauma-informed yoga are different from conventional vinyasa teachings. The training sessions help instructors understand these practices so they can better serve clients who may be struggling after an assault.
Those interested in offering support can donate online, attend one of their fundraising events or become part of their Movement for Meaning. The movement helps bring more classes to trauma survivors in studios, gyms and community centers around the city.
More about Exhale to Inhale can be found on their website.