Scholarship winners 2022

PTSD UK 'Yoga Therapy for PTSD' scholarship winners

Yoga and yoga therapy for trauma has become popular as there is a growing basis of clinical evidence and case reports that its application significantly supports those with PTSD in with the gentle reconnecting to their bodies, improving self-regulation, better socialisation, and increasing positive health behaviours. 

The complex nature of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) makes it a challenging condition to treat. In the UK alone, PTSD is estimated to affect 1 in 3 people who go through a traumatic experience, and yet it all too often remains misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and stigmatised. An intricate interplay between cognitive, behavioural, and physiological symptoms often dominates the lives of those suffering from PTSD and C-PTSD, and a variety of combined treatment strategies are therefore required to manage both the physical and emotional difficulties that define the condition.

It is for this reason that yoga therapy—an emerging multi-dimensional treatment strategy that works with the mind, body, and lifestyle—can offer such profound healing for those with PTSD and C-PTSD.  With its ability to target the nervous system, yoga therapy offers both short-term support in symptom management and long-term opportunities for transformation, helping to galvanise emotion regulation and offer new perspectives on life. Unsurprisingly, the use of evidence-based practices from yoga and mindfulness alongside medication and psychotherapy are becoming more commonplace in PTSD and C-PTSD treatment, and a growing body of scientific research points toward several key psychophysiological mechanisms through which yoga can reduce symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD.

With this in mind, as part of our recently announced our collaboration with  The Minded Institute and the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance  we opened up applications for a scholarship place for The Minded Institute’s ‘Yoga Therapy for PTSD’ course, kindly donated by them for one PTSD UK Supporter who is a yoga teacher or mental health professional.

The standard of applications was phenomenal – so much so we struggled to find just one winner. In addition to that, the passion, determination to support others and drive that so many of our applicants had, inspired us to offer our own scholarship places on the course too.

As such, PTSD UK offered 6 scholarship places on the course – meaning that in total, there will be 7 newly trained professionals, willing and able to support people with PTSD and C-PTSD in a really meaningful and tangible way. We’re so proud to be able to offer this chance to our winners and bring some ‘on the ground’ support to people affected by PTSD and C-PTSD via these amazing yoga teachers and mental health professionals.

We’re proud to introduce you to the winners of the PTSD UK scholarships here


Johanna

“I am a volunteer and run free weekly yoga classes at East Ayrshire Recovery Hub for people struggling with addiction, social issues, mental health problems and bereavement. I would use these training skills to help people accessing the hub with trauma informed classes and any sessions which would be beneficial. 

It would be amazing to be given the opportunity to help people. I see people every day who are struggling with addiction and related issues which are usually always grounded in trauma from childhood and further trauma related to their experiences in addiction.

I am a yoga teacher who is in long term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction and have a diagnosis of PTSD. I found hope, community, recovery of my mind and body and also found myself through the daily practice of yoga and the yogic path. I decided to train as a teacher to give back to people what yoga has given to me and offered my services for free to people struggling after I qualified. I qualified in June 2022 and having a better understanding of trauma and PTSD is where I want to go from here.”


Rachel

“I work in Acute Medicine as an Advanced Clinical practitioner aswell as a running coach and personal trainer, and am doing my yoga teacher training . I would use this to help my patients and clients who suffer from PTSD and present in crisis and to provide support and coping techniques to help manage their symptoms. I’m also part of the rape and sexual assault focus group and will be working with survivors of trauma, so will be providing womens circles and support groups to help provide some tools to help women who are struggling and in crisis

It would be life changing for myself the people I wish to help. I suffer from PTSD myself so know how important and incredible, yoga, mindfulness and breath work can be , and how it can change your fight or flight response and neuro plasticity. It has helped me feel safe in my body and be able to cope with situations I couldn’t prior aswell as been able to create a mind body connection, this can be lifesaving . I want to give hope to other people.”


Lauren

I am currently a yoga teacher and I also am due to complete my degree in integrative counselling. I live in Northern Ireland and teach in North Belfast which has one of the highest levels of trauma in the UK as a result of the troubles. I would love to train in trauma informed yoga as a means of combining yoga and counselling to offer a reasonable cost service to people in the local community who are impacted by PTSD.

It would mean I can train in a field I would not otherwise be able to access due to financial constraints. It would allow me to combine two areas of practice so important to me, both yoga and counselling and provide a service to one of the most deprived areas and trauma impacted communities in the UK at an affordable rate.

One of the other reasons I would like to apply is that I believe that yoga is for every body and I am committed to making sure that my classes are inclusive of all bodies. I have a larger body and encourage movement for all and try to ensure that everyone feels welcome and free to explore what feels good for them.”


Polly

As a Mental Health Physiotherapist working within an acute psychiatric hospital in NHS Lothian, I work with a variety of mental health presentations and conditions. I work daily with various populations such as elderly, acute adult care and child and adolescent mental health services. I have a specialist interest in trauma-informed practice and I am passionate about driving trauma-informed practice within all areas of health and social care. I work closely every day with patients who have experienced major trauma in their lives, alongside those with formal PTSD / C-PTSD diagnoses. 

Day to day, one element of my role involves delivering exercise classes on various wards as well as 1-1 exercise- based sessions. The benefits of exercise on mental health is well documented, however, often offering a gym session or circuit type class is not suitable, too overstimulating or too intense for those with PTSD / C-PTSD. For the majority of the patients I see, this is the case. Instead, I deliver alternative person-centred exercise such as Tai Chi, Mindful Movement and gentle Yoga/Pilates. This type of exercise acknowledges the psychobiological and emotional requirements for patients with a PTSD diagnosis, allowing a gentle introduction and reconnection with their bodies.

I recently presented training for my Physiotherapy colleagues on trauma-informed practice and ended the session with a practical element consisting of short trauma-informed yoga routine I had researched online. I shared some of the emerging evidence of its efficacy in treating those with PTSD and have had fantastic feedback from colleagues who have subsequently used this with their own patients. I would use the skills learnt on this course to enhance the therapeutic benefits of exercise for patients with PTSD. Moreover, I believe it is crucial to adopt a trauma informed approach for all patients regardless of formal diagnosis, and therefore I could utilise these yoga skills in the vast amount of my patient interactions for whom standard exercise (such as simply offering gym sessions) is not yet viable.

Ultimately, my passion project is to set up and run a social enterprise trauma-informed exercise group within the community in Edinburgh, offering a variety of classes of varying intensity.

Having lived experience of a PTSD diagnosis has meant that PTSD UK has been a charity close to my heart for years now. I have raised money for PTSD UK through charity runs, and continually aim to raise awareness of the impact of PTSD on everyday life. Living with trauma is something you never ‘get over’. I live every day with it, it is part of me. However, exercise and being in touch with my body truly helped me in an unexplainable way. It allowed me space to begin my healing journey and resume as ‘normal’ a life as I could have imagined. It gave me clarity, routine, self-esteem, pride, accomplishment and enjoyment at a time when all of these things felt out of reach.

Personally, running was my release. It gave me space, time to think clearly and ultimately a safe haven when simply sitting with my own thoughts felt terrifying. To be able to give others that same relief, even temporarily, through exercise is why I chose to specialise in Mental Health as a Physiotherapist.

To win the scholarship would mean giving that priceless ‘escape’ and peace – albeit short-lived – to countless people at what may be the worst point of their lives. To have the skills to deliver specific Yoga Therapy for PTSD would be an asset to not only myself as a practitioner, but with my ability to share these skills amongst a whole team, it would enable so many more to access this style of exercise- a precious commodity within the current strained NHS Mental Health Services.

I am absolutely passionate about educating those working in the health and social care sector and ensuring that there is a basic understanding that mental and physical health cannot be disentangled, especially in acute psychiatric settings. To win this scholarship would be an absolute honour. To aid those going through the hardships of a PTSD diagnosis through therapeutic exercise is exactly why I do the work I do. Adding to my skillset and enabling better treatment and care for those I work with is something I am always striving towards as a mental health practitioner.”


Carly

I’m a police officer with CPTSD I was diagnosed around 18 months ago and my recovery is ongoing.

Yoga is my passion. I’m an advanced yoga teacher and also hold qualifications in Yin and Yoga trapeze too. 

I’m very grateful from the bottom of my heart to receive a scholarship in Yoga Therapy for PTSD. I am proud to be part of the PTSD UK community and I am excited to be able to pay this act of kindness forward in my area


Our other winner’s story will be announced shortly

 

We’ll be bringing you updates on how our winners have taken what they learned into their communities, and the impact they can make, over the next few months. 

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