Wellness: How yoga can help heal mind and body
Heemali Inamdar was inspired to train in trauma informed yoga having suffered ill mental and physical health. Here she talks about this and her other yoga specialisms
What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I have been a trauma informed facilitator since winter, last year. During my early 20s, due to circumstances in my life, I started suffering from severe panic attacks and an auto immune condition which over the years led to ill mental and physical health. Originally trained as a dancer, I have always had a passion for the mechanics of the body and self-regulation through movement. However, even back then it was clear to me that there was a lack of awareness with regard to trauma informed teaching and the understanding that every mind and body is different with varying strengths and limitations. For these reasons, trauma informed teaching shouldn’t be a specialism, it should be the norm and this is what inspired me and continues to inspire me.
Can you explain the benefits of trauma informed yoga?
Trauma informed yoga allows the practice to be safer and more accessible, addressing the unique needs of trauma survivors, whether this be physical, emotional or mental. Trauma doesn’t just affect the mind, it can also be held in the body which means that mind-body practices can be challenging, and even harmful, for those who have endured any form of trauma. By moving toward trauma informed practices, many people can begin to build a sense of safety and find healing.
How has it helped you navigate traumatic times in your life?
For a long time, I felt - to be completely honest - numb to life. It was as if I was just existing and not living. I felt disconnected from myself, my body and people around me. After experiencing this practice, I was able to self-regulate my nervous system which promoted feelings of physical, emotional, and psychological safety. This is why all of my classes are centred around the nervous system.
What other types of yoga do you specialise in?
I work closely with physical disabilities and the lymphatic system; I currently work with SEN schools and pupils from mainstream schools and offer accessible youth yoga. I have also started working with corporate offices, offering teams a chance to access mindful movement in the workplace. Having worked in a highly stressful office space for some years myself, I have first-hand experience of the negative impact that has on your nervous system and how normalised our toxic work culture is.
How does DOGA work? Do the dogs enjoy it?
During my time working in SEN environments, animal therapy was used regularly, as interaction with animals has been known to reduce stress-related hormones and raise levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body. I decided to combine my love for animals and yoga in my own practice and found this to be profoundly nourishing for my nervous system.
Each session consists of pranayama, asanas and some gentle meditation with your furry friend. I also have my gorgeous Pluto with me at the sessions, if people don’t have their own dogs. The dogs absolutely love it and it is also a great bonding activity for owners and dogs.
Meditation is another of your specialisms. What are the health benefits?
Everything I offer comes back to regulating yourself, this also includes the mind. Meditation has been practiced for many years and nowadays is often misunderstood. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be causing stress and bring your awareness back to the present moment and back to your body. This can be achieved whilst moving or being still and usually results in enhanced physical and emotional wellbeing.
How has yoga changed your life?
Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word Yug, which means to unite. Originally it was used to connect with yourself and lead a more spiritual life and by doing so you learn to live in the present moment; for this reason, it has completely changed my life.
Where do you run your classes?
I currently work with Satyam Yoga and Wellbeing Centre, Cambridge; FRESH. Ely and at Milton Country Park. A few more surprise collaborations are coming soon, so watch this space!”
Find out more about Heemali at leaveherwildyoga.com
Read moreHealth and Fitness
More by this authorLouise Cummings