Kaitlyn Pacheco: What do you hope to achieve in your work as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow?
Erin McClosky: “Working on this project with the support of the Schweitzer Fellowship has given me the opportunity to connect with other students, as well as receive guidance from previous Fellows and local leaders. Upon graduating from the counseling prograwm at Ohio University I hope to combine two things I love, counseling and yoga. This project could potentially lead to something wonderful I can share with the profession.”
KP: How did you develop the concept to integrate yoga and meditation into the counseling of victims of domestic abuse?
EM: “The inspiration for this project stemmed from the healing I found through my own yoga practice. This led me to seek out research that has been done about the effectiveness of yoga on stress, anxiety, and other symptoms with groups such as veterans and children. I believe in the power of movement and the breath to mend the body, mind, and spirit … Survivors of domestic violence or individuals that have experienced trauma can have symptoms that include anxiety, stress, trouble sleeping, and a variety of physical concerns. The qualities of a yoga practice can give them control of their bodies and minds – it can be an empowering experience.”
KP: How have yoga and meditation impacted your life? What motivated you to share these teachings with the community?
EM: “Yoga has been a beautiful internal practice for me, and it has been a platform in which I have had the opportunity to connect with a community of inspiring practitioners and teachers. My hope is to introduce yoga to others that may not have the financial ability to attend a yoga class at a studio, or may be intimidated by what they think yoga is…you don’t have to be able to touch your toes to do yoga. If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
KP: Please describe what you do at EVE Incorporated.
EM: “A class will always include breath work. I believe it is one of the most important components of each class because of the way the breath can impact the mind-body physiology. I’ll share one of my favorites; it is a simple 2 to 1 breath. In 2 to 1 breathing the exhale is twice the length of the inhale… Slowing the exhale will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, calming us down. We also practice chair or gentle yoga postures that are accessible to most bodies, movement with the breath, relaxation, meditation, and visualization exercises.”
KP: What changes or reactions have you seen from victims after learning your techniques?
EM: “Participants have enjoyed the meditations that include visualization, progressive relaxation, and learning different pranayama or breathing exercises. Sometimes they are surprised by how accessible yoga feels once they give it a try. I also feel I should clarify regarding the techniques. They are not mine – they are thousands of years old and have been passed down from experienced teachers. They have been practiced this long because individuals have found they work for them on some level. That is why I hope to share them with people in the community.”