EMBER

EMBER Yoga program in action at the Ohio Reformatory for Women

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Annette Dominguez is Director of Tapestry, Therapeutic Program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women

November 7, 2016
To Who It May Concern,

I am writing this letter in support of the EMBER Yoga program here at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. The program began in April of 2014 and is facilitated by Michele Vinbury and Marybeth Hamilton. Each cohort provides weekly services for up to 12 participants of the Tapestry Therapeutic Community. Tapestry is a holistic treatment program for women with substance abuse issues. The program is highly structured and community focused. Most program members have an extensive history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse making the need for trauma informed care an imperative.

The EMBER program has made such a positive impact on the lives of the women who have had the opportunity to be involved. The women have gained new tools for effectively addressing their difficult experiences and finding ways to mitigate their feelings while staying engaged and receptive to change. Being able to share that journey with their peers while being gently guided by the compassion and expertise of their instructors, has fostered a deeper sense of community among participants. This support helps members feel both empowered and connected.

The impact of EMBER is evident in our community in so many ways. Members who practice meditation and speak with their sisters about the benefits, sisters who have found the courage to share their experiences on a deeper level and peers who find the ability to trust that whatever is painful, is less so when surrounded by those who understand how hope can carry you through.

It is that same hope that drives us to advocate for the continuation of the EMBER program here at ORW. Our members have come to think of the yoga sessions as an integral part of our program, an experience that each sister aspires to be a part of. Michele and Marybeth are family to us and are part of the fabric of our community. Their generosity and commitment to our family is beyond compare. Their sincerity is without question and their belief that touching lives, saves lives, is a mantra we can all live by.

Sincerely,

Annette Dominguez
Tapestry Program Director

Inspired by what you’ve read?  You can support the Yoga on High Foundation’s important work by attending our Daylong Wellness Retreat this Friday, November 11th or donating at www.yogaonhighfoundation.org/donate.

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Real Yoga

Yoga Class-3247by Michele Vinbury

Morning Practice.  I step onto the smooth, familiar coolness of my mat.  The pre-dawn yellow of a street light spills across the floor.  I yawn and spread toes, feeling my feet ground into the well-worn grooves scuffed through the mat’s surface.  My body, at first stiff, begins to sense and then move with the fluid streams of breath that glide in and pour out.

Inhale.  Honey sweet, the breath enters, expands and unfurls.

Exhale.  All effort undone as the breath slowly recedes and then fades away.

Inhale.  Opening. Receiving.

Exhale.  Surrendering.  Releasing. Read More…

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EMBER Series – A Social Worker’s Review 

Alana Becker Photograph

Alana Becker Photograph

Working for a number of years in the mental health field with those who have experienced trauma has allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the scope of treatment needs, as well as approaches, that work for survivors. After having the opportunity to participate in the EMBER series with Michele Vinbury through Yoga on High, I would highly recommend it as part of a treatment plan for anyone recovering from trauma, and as an adjunct to other treatment modalities.

The EMBER series incorporates approaches including body movement, mindfulness skills, distress tolerance and emotion regulation, all of which have documented benefits in mental health treatment. The most current research is showing us how the body and the brain are directly impacted by trauma, and provides support for the incorporation of movement and mindfulness to traditional therapy approaches. The creation of a mentally and physically safe place through the EMBER program allows participants to explore being in one’s own body. Particularly for the trauma survivor, this is no small task. The practice of this type of purposeful, mindful, body awareness is an imperative aspect of the healing process.

More traditional talk therapy approaches to managing symptoms stemming from trauma are a beneficial and often necessary part of a trauma survivor’s healing journey. However, with research indicating that the brain and the body quite literally hold traumatic events, the importance of re-connecting with the body and addressing trauma in the brain becomes more apparent. The use of mindfulness and grounding techniques in the EMBER series create a foundation for this deeper level of healing to occur.

Visit Yoga on High to sign up for our next EMBER series.  Sliding scale payment options available to those in need through the Yoga on High Foundation.

Michelle Dismore is a licensed social worker and clinician working for a private non-profit organization in Columbus, Ohio. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, and a Master of Social Work degree from The Ohio State University. Michelle has experience providing therapy and interventions with children, adolescents and families across multiple levels of care including residential, intensive community based, and outpatient settings. Her approach in working with clients combines elements of mindfulness, regulating approaches and whole body awareness.

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Yoga & Trauma

My first experience with EMBER Yoga was over a year ago. I asked the Ember yoga instructor, Michele, kind of tongue and cheek, if she would teach me how to do a headstand. It was at that time that my whole life had changed. I know, I know, this sounds too cliché. My life now is learning to embrace being present through yoga movements. With this presence, I am also learning to cope with past traumas, and I am now looking forward to a future. I never thought I could live a life that I would enjoy.

With the EMBER series and Ashtanga Beginner class, I noticed that I felt included. Michele always ask us if we had any questions, comments, or concerns. Well, yeah. We’re doing yoga, right? I would practice what I learned in class, but couldn’t do it like I did just a couple hours beforehand. I was told patience, everybody is overwhelmed, and learning yoga can take lifetimes. My questions weren’t ignored or not heard. Different. Like, I mattered.

Okay, now the tough part. The triggers. I remembered specifically that Michele said that yoga is sometimes weird. I think at that particular time she was talking about the Ujjayi breathing technique. I admitted to her that I felt I was not able to stay present hearing this breathing. She said that voicing my concern was appropriate and she would help me stay present and would give me some reminders on how I could do this on my own.

During my struggles to stay present, I noticed that within these classes I felt safe. This took some time. At the end of each class, when we would do the Savasana, I am not sure why, but in both of these classes, sometimes, tears would roll down my cheeks. This was a pretty new experience for me. Didn’t understand how this was to be, the absorption of what I just learned had turned to tears.

As in other parts of my life, I started to make goals, challenges, for a yoga future beyond the six weeks series. I really did want to learn to stand on my head. Michele sent me an article on how to build up strength by doing the dolphin pose after teaching it in class one day. I read the article and looked at the pictures and got on my mat. I got my butt up in the air and I immediately broke down and started to cry. It was at this very time I learned about acceptance. I finally accepted the sexual assault. I accepted that I was not strong enough to do a headstand NOW, but I would work on this endeavor so maybe in a month or so, I could be closer to having my feet up in the air.

I can now talk about what happened to me. I don’t have to be strong enough. I don’t have to be anything enough. I just…be present.

Laurie R.

Michele Vinbury, lead instructor in the Ember program, in headstand.

Michele Vinbury, lead instructor and co-creator of the EMBER program, in headstand.

The EMBER classes are sponsored by the Yoga on High Foundation. For more information on the Foundation, please click here.

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EMBER Series – A Survivor’s Experience

Alana Becker Photography

Alana Becker Photography

Looking back, I don’t think there was anyway I could have known how powerful the EMBER series would be for me. The freeing emotional release I experienced moved me in ways traditional therapy hasn’t in years. I was amazed to begin a process of re-discovering my body, and what it means to be really in it. After spending so much time zoned out from my body and my life, the power of the restorative poses has healed me in ways words cannot adequately describe. To engage with the idea that I can create feelings of safety and comfort for my own body speaks to a level of self-empowerment I have only dreamed of before. Michele has an innate capacity to create a safe place from which healing grows. Read More…

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