Redinfining Trauma-Informed Movement | Mindful Strength Podcast

About Rochelle Miller

Rochelle creates spaces for embodied movement; through education of primary principles of movement, she offers a unique blend of Yoga, Trauma-Informed Yoga from New Leaf Yoga, and movement that empower students to explore movement as a practice of self-discovering and joy

Through playful inquiry, practitioners are given the space to explore what is possible in their body and build the capacity to move more efficiently. 

Certificates Include Yoga Fundamentals from Octopus Garden (2013), Modo Yoga (2015), Yin (2015), Trauma-Informed Yoga from New Leaf Yoga (2015), and Embodied Arts Training from Spirit Loft (2019).

Woman in triangle pose on a yoga mat

Show Notes

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183 Rochelle Miller: Redefining Trauma-Informed Movement

“My youth have probably taught me more than I’ve taught them in how to advocate for myself or my body. How to question and how to move in the way that I feel free to move. They have taught me far more than I’ve taught them for sure.”

About This Episode

Rochelle Miller joins the podcast to discuss how small movements and accessible practices can have revolutionary impacts in the lives of young people. Rochelle shares wisdom from her work teaching movement to youth with New Leaf Foundation. Kathryn and Rochelle explore the power of breaking down hierarchies in class settings and using language, movements, practices that make sense to people and empower them.

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Podcast Transcription

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:00:08]

Hey, everyone. Welcome back.

[00:00:30]

Today we have Rochelle Miller joining us on the podcast. Rochelle is a movement teacher and she also works with the New Leaf Foundation. Jamila also works with the New Leaf Foundation and in a couple of weeks, you’re going to be hearing also from Laura Sai Grove who is one of the founders of the New Leaf Foundation. Lots about New Leaf and all of the incredible work that they do.

Rochelle and I spoke about how her teaching has really transitioned over the years into more of a functional movement-based and mindful practice. We also talked about inclusion and how to make classes more accessible and really just how her work has transformed over the last few years especially.

[00:01:22]

We talked about trauma-informed movement or yoga. And what that means and how complicated this word trauma-informed can be. She offered a couple of really incredible insights. I know that you’re going to really enjoy that. Before we get into the episode. I want to remind everyone about a couple of things.

The first thing is the 300-hour online Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training which I am co-facilitating with Carly Stong and our list of fabulous guest instructors. We are accepting applications for early bird pricing until December 31st. If you want to get in on that, you have to send in your application. Then Carly we’ll get in touch with you if you have any questions about payment plans or anything like that.

[00:02:17]

Then from there, you got to get your deposit in before the end of December. This training doesn’t start until Spring. There’s lots of time to plan and it is an extended training, so it’s going to happen over the course of a year.
I also want to remind you all about the Mindful Strength Membership which is just rocking and rolling. Kyle and I teach our live classes Mondays and Thursdays. There was a time change, it used to be Fridays.

[00:02:47]

Now it’s Thursday days at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. That’s the New York City or Toronto time zone. As well as having access to those live classes, you also get access to the recordings of the live classes and all of our other on-demand classes that range from 20 minutes to 60 minutes.

We’ve got a number of incredible guest instructors, it’s not only classes with Kyle and me. You get to learn from some other people as well. And it’s really just a range of strengthening mindful movement practices.

We use a few props. We use a resistance band. We use a weight. I use around 15 pounds. You can use whatever you’ve got. We also use a couple of yoga props like a block, a blanket, a yoga mat, a little massage ball, and stuff like that. If you want to get started with the Mindful Strength Membership, go over to mindfulstrength.ca, and in the menu, you’ll see membership. You can read all about it there and get signed up.

All right everyone here is my conversation with Rochelle Miller.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:03:50]

All right. Rochelle, welcome to the podcast.

Rochelle Miller:

Thank you so much for having me.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

Yeah, I’m so glad that we’re doing this. I interviewed so many people from all over but today I’m talking to someone who lives in Toronto, so that feels kind of nice in a different way.

Rochelle Miller:

We’re close, we’re neighbors.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

For the people who maybe haven’t been following you online or don’t know what you’re up to, do you want to take a few minutes and walk people through who you are and the type of work that you do?

Rochelle Miller: [00:04:25]

That’s my least favorite question and I’ll explain why. I think I wear many different hats. I’m taking hats off and putting them on. I think that I’ll start with my work with New Leaf because ultimately that’s been one of the biggest inspirations and guiding forces in all of the other environments that I work in. New Leaf Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that works with youth in custody and youth who are in the margins or marginalized.

We work with bringing them mindfulness movement and life skill practices. That’s always been what I wanted to do. I started working with New Leaf about eight years ago, probably was the first time. I was originally just putting up flyers for them in different yoga studios.

[00:05:36]

At that time, I wasn’t at all a yoga facilitator or instructor. Just any way to get involved so that is my first hat you know.
I evolved in my own personal movement practice teaching yoga and being a practitioner of yoga. A facilitator of yoga came on a little bit later. I’ve been able to study with a lot of great people, starting at Octopus Garden and doing some trauma-informed training further with New Leaf and a variety of things that just added to my tool belt of becoming a “yoga teacher”.

[00:06:25]

I say that in air quotes and we could probably get into that later, but a facilitator of movement. That’s something that allowed me to become more involved with New Leaf and their programming. I went on to be a facilitator with them and then now I am the facilitator coordinator with them and overseeing our teachers and some of our staff.

I’m also working with New Leaf into developing curriculum pieces, so you’ll see on our website we have online training. I’m a part of that faculty as well as some of the internal work. That’s a major hat. That’s always kind of flowing.

[00:07:14]

My newest project, which I’m really excited about, is an independent mission. Movement, we’ll call it a movement that’s micro-revolution. This is an idea that I have been sitting on for a really long time because the reason that I came into movement-based practices was because of my own personal suffering and my own personal trauma.

It was something that gave me a lot of tools to cope with that and micro-revolution is this culmination of the work that I’ve done with New Leaf. The movement-based practices that I’ve done and some of the other education pieces around mental health and addiction and personal experience and storytelling. All those other kind-of really fun aspects of nurturing well-being within ourselves and our body. That’s something that I’m really excited about.

[00:08:16]

Lots of hats. I think I’ll leave it there if anybody wants to check me out at microrevolution. They can definitely go @microrevolutions on Instagram. You’ll have a better understanding of how these small revolutions have popped up in my life and how I very much try to share that with my community.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

On your Instagram, you sometimes do these mini practice videos. These micro-practices. wanted to ask you about that.

Rochelle Miller: [00:08:54]

Yeah. Micro practices. They really are birthed out of this place of wanting to make movement accessible.
I think that oftentimes when we think about adding wellness or wellness routines to our schedule, we think about doing one-hour yoga classes or one and a half an hour, whatever it may be. That time-space is not actually accessible to everybody. It doesn’t actually work.

[00:09:31]

I realized how spoiled I am being within the movement industry that movement is just always happening. My friends are moving and saying “let’s go play in the park”. It’s always happening. But I think for most people finding places to move in their life can be a little bit challenging.

Micro-practices came out of really wanting to inspire individuals to do small little bits of things in their life in their world that would keep them mobile functionally. As much as possible without feeling the pressure to go into a yoga studio or show up to an hour-long zoom call or whatever. It may be that we can incorporate these little micro-practices throughout our day. That was my inspiration behind it.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:10:24]

Yeah, I think you’re so right. Oftentimes people imagine “I’m going to do yoga. That means I’m doing it for an hour or an hour and a half”. Yes, I totally agree. That’s just not going to work for so many people. The other thing: I watched a bunch of your micro-practices. I don’t necessarily remember one specifically but the theme. It’s not like you’re like “OK let’s do triangle pose for two minutes”. You’re like “let’s do some ankle mobility or let’s do this thing for our shoulders or neck”.

I wanted to ask you about that as well. How are you coming up with these ideas because like so many of the listeners, you’ve done yoga training, you’ve done other kinds of training.

Rochelle Miller: [00:11:13]

Yeah. Oh my goodness. This is so good. Working with youth with New Leaf I really got an opportunity to experiment with a lot of different movement practices. Young people really dislike yoga and they think that the postures are for girls and a specific type of girl, too. White skinny woman.

It was a barrier within my New Leaf work to teach yoga. It’s more like the traditional Asana format. That kind of led me into a little bit of learning on how to make movement even more accessible because, you know, I was teaching accessible yoga postures like as accessible as they get. It still wasn’t working.

[00:12:14]

I was really lucky I have a great network of folks and I got to work with Andre Talbert and Catalina from Spirit Loft and they’re doing some really fun things around there. They really opened my mind up to movement that was really simple and that anybody can do but have a great amount of impact.

What is really necessary to keep our body moving well was the question I started to ask myself. What is actually necessary? Do I need to be doing these headstands, handstands, downward dogs, or 30 chaturangas? Is that really necessary? What is that for you?

[00:13:02]

What I started to come down to for myself and my own work is: I just want people to move well. I have broken up those micro-practices in really simple movements that would allow people to increase their movement potential bit by bit. Simple stuff like CARS or like joint CARS so that they can have that range of mobility of arms up overhead or external rotation.

[00:13:36]

A lot of people just can’t even connect to that simple movement let alone adding it into a more complex pattern. I really just wanted to simplify and bring something again that was for everybody. Not for people that speak the language. You might notice in those videos I rarely even speak to anatomy that much.

I sometimes have to turn on my anatomy speaking in my brain because I have turned it off so much. I think it’s so important to be as laymen’s as possible. Speak to as many individuals as possible and not to feel self-conscious about not knowing the name of a pose or where exactly my foot should be. All of those things that could actually make us disembodied; our mind can really get in the way of us just connecting to ourselves.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:14:37]

Oh my goodness I connect to that so much. When I am teaching my classes, I don’t use a lot of anatomical terms. I definitely used to use more and now I use less. Sometimes I think that teachers feel like, in order to show people that they are smart and capable and that they really know what they’re talking about, they have to use these words; these very specific alignments or rotations of certain joints and stuff like that.

I think that probably a lot of the teachers listening are probably going through the pros and the cons. I love what you said about you want to really connect with these people, your participants, and your students in front of you. You want them to really understand what you’re saying. Who are those people in front of you? How can you speak in a way that is the most understandable the most accessible? Your teaching is going to speak for itself. You don’t need to prove to anybody that you know the special rotation of the knee or whatever.

Rochelle Miller: [00:15:53]

Who’s that language for? Again I come back to that language is great when I’m in a group of other movement facilitators and we’re like “when you center the shoulder” and we’re getting into all of these fine details of how it works. Great. Great.

It’s the language that is really specific. What also comes to mind to me is this separation and a little bit of, I don’t know how to say this, but it’s like if we’re speaking in a language that’s exclusive then it means that we’re also making our classes not habitable or not open to everybody. It can be really intimidating to come into a space where there might be Sanskrit going on and then there’s anatomy language layered on top of that.

[00:16:58]

These languages have a good space to be in and can be really important so that we can understand the details of what we’re doing. But I am of Jamaican background and a lot of the individuals that come to my class they’re also from West Indian or Jamaican background. Sometimes I say “wine your waist or like give me the go-go wine”. These are dances in Jamaican culture, right? Instantaneously they know exactly what it is that they should be doing with their bodies.

I guess what I would really love for other practitioners to think about is: what is the language that your students are speaking? Can you speak in their language instead of bringing in or coming in with this know it all perfectionists? There are so many different ways that are embodied hierarchy, very much holding a place of power.

[00:18:04]

For me it’s like: can I break down that power structure a little bit? You know, be sitting right beside my students like not in front of or not above but beside together. That’s just something that for me is really important to my work; is that I’m working with people.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:18:28]

Yeah. OK. You mentioned earlier at the beginning of this story that the youth you are working with didn’t really like yoga or yoga poses or what they perceive to be yoga. I’m just so curious how did you find that out? Did you go in to teach your class? Were you like “well we’re doing these poses” and someone was like “wait, wait, lady, how did this come to be?”.

Rochelle Miller: [00:18:52]

Oh gosh. Yeah. I always always make this joke every time I go into a class.
Somebody would say something to the effect like: “yo Miss d’man don’t do yoga” And I would say “okay”. That’s it. Firm stop. Man don’t do yoga. At first, I would say “come on let’s try”. It was a good friend of mine that said “you know what, Rochelle, I don’t think that you’re inspiring them”.

[00:19:28]

That was really hard to take. OK cool. That’s the thing that I love about youth. Adults as we get older we come into these yoga classes and we don’t like something or we come into movement classes we don’t like something, we are very quiet about it. Young people will tell you right away. “Miss, why are we doing this miss? I don’t want to do this”. I just had to meet them exactly there.

I’m here for an hour so maybe we try to move for about five or 10 minutes and then we can talk. I had to listen to what they were saying “hey I don’t want to do this. Why are we doing this?” Then go into some of those reasons like why are we doing this. Because it’s a tool that can help you manage stress and then they were a little bit more willing but still like they weren’t into yoga.

[00:20:19]

Even these days I very rarely teaching that to young people because I also think that like you know this is just for me. I love my asana practice. I love to go back to it. I love the structure of it.

Sometimes I want to move very freely. I think that the way that Asanas has been taught can sometimes feel very structured. You’re on this little mat that is so small. I think sometimes you can make yourself so small in your yoga postures and for me I found it restricting it.
I think that my young people also found it restricting: “why do I have to stay on this mat? Why do I have to do what you’re telling me to do?” All of these different things but they’re very vocal. They’re very vocal.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:21:18]

I want to take a moment in the middle of this episode to tell you about building resilience are our 30-day practice progression. If you want to get started with strengthening in a mindful way and you’re not quite sure where to begin go over to mindfulstrength.ca and get started.

Each day you get a new class. Every class is 30 minutes or less so it’s super manageable. Classes range from strengthening with weights and bands and your bodyweight all the way to self-massage and restorative practices. You get a little bit of everything which will help you build your resilience. To sign up go to mindfulstrength.ca.
All right everyone. Now back to the show.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:22:08]

I kind of wonder. I mean my mom has been really vocal about this. You know her so I’m sure you’ve heard about this from other people as well. But there has been this whole guru hierarchy situation in modern yoga for quite a while now. Maybe a hundred years and a lot of people kind of going to classes, going to workshops and going to whatever being taught a certain thing. Then if they weren’t really feeling it they sometimes just do it anyway.

And like you said, sometimes they get really quiet and I think that is partly why we’re in this situation we are today, where there is just so much innovation happening. People are leaving these hierarchy lineages. Some people are leaving these lineages and moving to more free movement; exploring different things, working with physiotherapists, going to the gym, and doing all these different things.

I wonder if so many of us in the yoga community 20 30 40 50 or 100 years ago had more of this attitude like your youth have like “why are we doing this?”. I wonder how differently things would have turned out. I grew up practicing Ashtanga at my mom’s studio for so long. Nobody was really asking the why or if they were they were getting this answer that was basically the same every time.

Rochelle Miller: [00:23:45]

It’s two-sided, right? It’s the teachers or the facilitator and the students. It’s both that are there in a relationship with each other. It’s something that I continue to question within my own teaching. It’s like how do I break down that structure of hierarchy, right?

I’m really curious about what is the living breathing practice of facilitating spaces and co-creating spaces with my students. It’s very scary for them right now. The adults, they’re very scared about this, but I’m asking them to talk. I’m asking them to share the things that they’re doing in their bodies.

[00:24:40]

I’m asking them you know what works and what doesn’t work. I’m stopping my whole class and saying: “hey, I just saw you do something really awesome. Can you walk us through that? I’m also an agent of stepping back and being the learner of my students.
When I’m teaching these days, I don’t want to have the mic the entire time. That is to say that I’m the only person in the room that has something valuable to say or I’m the only person in the room that has a valuable insight or a valuable offering.

[00:25:13]

I think about really the lineage of yoga and the history of yoga. I know when we go to Patanjali yoga sutras, which they say was written by a group of people. A group of seekers who did the practice and came back to each other and discussed the things that they observed within themselves. It was actually a co-created space. Then they put together these insights and these findings together in this book. But it was a group of people.

It was the yogis, it wasn’t one voice that was bigger than the other. When I think about individuals that also come from a place of lineage and they’re really stuck in their lineage, I would go even further to that and see what the history tells us about this lineage. How was it really birthed?

[00:26:09]

I just think that it’s really important that teachers question within themselves how they continue to perpetuate power structure and the ways in which they can start to like include their students in on the process. I love it right now in some of my functional like a slower-moving within classes, where I’m like “Hey does anybody really need to do something today? Do you really need to do something today? Cause let me know, I’ll add it to the plan.” I am in service of the people that are there. I throw out my plan.

[00:26:46]

If somebody says “you know what I had a whole balancing series aligned” and somebody comes out and they’re like “You know what my ankle is really sore”. I’m going to say “all right we’re not going to do that balancing work. We’re going to do something else”.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

Were these thoughts that you having before you started working with New Leaf?

Rochelle Miller:

Oh absolutely not. Hey. Yeah. Absolutely not. Interestingly enough my work with New Leaf changed my presence in movement and in yoga studio spaces.

[00:27:21]

I went from really listening to all of the things that my teachers were saying and taking all of the hands-on assists and all of these things to going through maybe two years where I was like: “please don’t touch me. I’m gonna be in the corner. If you have a special cue that you think is for me save it. You know. I think I’m gonna go do this practice on my own”. I think that you know this work really started an inner rebellion for me.

My youth have probably taught me more than I’ve taught them in how to advocate for myself or my body. How to question and how to move in the way that I feel free to move. They have taught me far more than I’ve taught them for sure.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:28:10]

And was this a process that just started to happen or was there a starting point? A lot of the people, for example, who I talked to get some injury, and then they have to re-evaluate. They start going through this process but I’m wondering if that was the case for you?

Rochelle Miller:

No. twelve years in, I’m going to knock on wood, I have not been injured. I think for me the uproar was probably: I was moving in my yoga studio space on my own mat and really just processing my own emotional mental work. Five years into it I woke up a little bitter, as the yogis say “I woke up”.

[00:29:02]

I realized I was the only black person in most of the studios that I was in. And that really spiraled a big shift for me. I hadn’t noticed that first because I was really just there for me. As the practice does, it expands your awareness. Right. I was starting to notice some of the conversations that were happening in the yoga studio spaces.

I was noticing a lot of the people around me were really into it because of the fashion of it. Like the blue lemmings looking cute and postures and all these things. I hadn’t noticed. I kind of want to laugh because I came to yoga in like a sarong and tanktop. I just need to alleviate the suffering.

[00:29:59]

I came to this realization that there is this whole consumerist market that was around in this business that was surrounding it. How in some of these spaces teachers were really being exploited. Oh my goodness there was a lot of virtue signaling happening in the community. I think we’re some of the best community to do that to say “we’re such good people”.

Then being on the inside of those communities and realizing there was a lot of misalignment with people’s words and their actions. That there was a lot of good intent but there was a lot of harmful actions nonetheless. That for me really fired a huge discontentment.

[00:30:46]

I say I wear many hats. I was going through a phase of being an activist at the time as well and being in action a lot. I was recognizing that all of the individuals talking a lot about peace and compassion and holding space for suffering and challenging issues. All of these things. We’re not showing up to do the really hard work, specifically within the black community. It just started the whole revolution for me.

If this space is not built for me, then it’s harming me. I started really looking at things a lot differently. I think that would be the thing that catapulted it if we could go back to one particular date. I would say it would be tent city in front of Toronto headquarters where Black Lives Matter took over and that that was probably the fire for me that allowed me to just see my little world more broadly.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

Do you think that things are changing in the community in Toronto?

Rochelle Miller: [00:32:10]

Oh I think they are changing. Micro revolutions, micro revolutions. One of the things for myself, to be honest, that I have to be really remembering continuously is patience.

Change is difficult for everybody. I think you know this is my practice of compassion for a little bit right? It’s like for a long time I was very angry, this is not happening fast enough. I don’t know if that’s a useful thought for me at this time. I am noticing that things are changing, and there’s still a lot of problematic pieces.

[00:33:00]

One of my favorite analogies that I think about all of the time and I thought of it out of this quote: “We’re all cousins from the same black mother” It’s a funny quote but when I thought about it as we’re all cousins from the same black mother, my cousins I love them today. But my male cousins are they’re very homophobic.

They can be very harsh towards women. You know, maybe misogynistic. Whenever they say things that are inappropriate, I can sometimes say “hey buddy that was so rude, that really hurt me”. And they’ll be like “OK cool Rochelle I’m going to try better next time”. The next day we go and we have dinner or the next evening we go to a party and we’re still in a good relationship.

[00:33:56]

I guess when I look at the people in my community as being my cousins from the same mother, I only have the desire to be able to give feedback freely; to be able to have dinner after without somebody’s feelings being hurt because we’re still cousins. There’s still love.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

This is so challenging because some people say things and you’re like “Nooo”. You don’t want to go to have dinner afterward.

Rochelle Miller: [00:34:34]

I’m not the best at it but I have got a good little track record of getting really angry and maybe not using the best communication you know.

There was a moment where I actually withdrew completely from teaching in yoga studios because of a lot of these issues of contention. The reason that I returned to teaching in yoga studios is my thought, my feeling in my heart is: if I am not going to represent the people that look like me who will? If I’m not going to be an advocate for the people that look like me then who will?

[00:35:21]

I think that so much within black and brown communities, we are in need of wellness resources and wellness practitioners. The reason I came back to really do the work…and sometimes it’s not easy working with these studio owners. I have to say it’s not easy…I know that it is more valuable for me to be in those yoga studio spaces and those movements space than not to be.

People are like “Hey where do you teach?” and I can say “Hey here here here. This one’s in your neighborhood. You can walk to it”. It’s my cross to bear. I want to be having those difficult conversations with people that are willing and open to having them with me. If they are not open to having them with me. then I leave.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:36:23]

Well said. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. We had a couple of little emails back and forth and one thing that we had planned on talking about, which I feel like is very related: this idea of the safe space, and you had mentioned going beyond creating safe spaces and starting to facilitate brave spaces. I’m just wondering what you have to say about this. I feel like Safe Spaces a little bit of buzz word right now. People are like “oh I’ve ticked all the boxes. This is a safe space now”.

Rochelle Miller: [00:37:01]

Yeah or “a trauma-informed space”. I have questions for folks to ask within themselves: what are the environments that they feel most comfortable speaking up in and what are the environments where they feel the opposite? Or maybe shame. Or maybe like trepidation, sadness.

Really consider what those spaces feel like? That’s just one piece of it. Then the other pieces. This is a huge one in trauma-informed movement practices where it’s creating the choice. I’m going to use another example from New Leaf is when I’m working with my youth, if I give them too many choices they’re actually confused.

[00:37:53]

When I say things like “maybe you try this”. They’re like “do you know what you’re talking about?”. When I say do what feels good for you, they take a nap. Those are just some examples of choice-based cueing that is supposed to be trauma-informed that do a couple of things: 1. disorient, 2. it doesn’t give a container of options, and 3. it doesn’t allow people to feel safe and confident being in your presence.

Do you know what you’re doing here? Do you know what you’re talking about? So what I ask the teachers that I work with right now to think about is how do you create the environment of choice? An environment where your students feel like they can ask questions.

[00:38:48]

I’m not going to say maybe every time I say a cue. Sometimes I’m just gonna say “put your right foot forward”. There’s nothing harsh or harmful about saying put your right foot forward.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

You’ve created an environment where if someone can’t do that or doesn’t want to do that or falls over when they do that, that’s also OK.

Rochelle Miller: [00:39:09]

Exactly right. I’m thinking about the details of what creates brave spaces is like giving people permission in the very beginning to say “if something doesn’t work for you please let me know”. Then really believing in that. Sometimes teachers say that and then we’ll watch students struggle the entire class. I might say “hey it looks like you’re breathing a lot in your upper neck. Is this challenging for you? Hey, I notice that most of your weight is in your wrist. Is that hurtful? Does it hurt?”

I might inquire even further. Maybe they’re not wanting to speak up but I’m engaging them. I’m engaging my students all of the time to be inquiring about what’s happening and to speak up. I start my classes “guys, this is not this not the quiet yoga class. If you have questions, please stop me. if I say something that doesn’t make sense, please say that does it make sense”. And I love that my students are like: “What are you talking about, Rochelle?

[00:40:15]

I’m going to think about that again. Creating the environment we were talking about a little bit earlier where there’s no hierarchy; that our students don’t feel like you know everything. I teach things that I’m working on. I am working on crow to chaturanga to jump back or something, that’s just an example.

I will fall in front of my students and I might say “hey these are the possible ways that you might fall. If you’re not comfortable with falling maybe try to do it like this. If you’re not comfortable with doing it in this room, go home and try it on a pillow”. That’s also an option. There’s a choice it’s like “OK I know you don’t want to do it right now you might not feel safe but here’s one other choice, not the 5, 10 15. Just one other thing, you know?

I think that like brave creating brave spaces for me means sharing the mic with my students; it means asking them questions really; it means being in more than just the verbal conversation.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:41:32]

Yeah I think these are such great comments especially as like trauma-informed yoga becomes more and more and more popular, which it is.

Yeah, sometimes it seems like rather than teaching people to create this type of space where people are comfortable to follow along or not or try their own stuff. Be themselves really. I think teachers are getting trained to you know check a bunch of things off the list. Make sure you always say this invitational cue, make sure you don’t touch someone, make sure you don’t this.

There are all these rules about what makes a class quote-unquote trauma-informed. Sometimes some of those guidelines can be helpful just to be like “oh well maybe not everybody experiences the world as I do”. Maybe some of these are just like great things to think about for a second, but then also do we kind of miss out on some of that nuance?

Rochelle Miller: [00:42:30]

We miss out on so much of the nuance and we are actually I think really doing a disservice to our students. We’re because we’re infantilizing them. When we speak in this way, it’s like that they are not capable of making choices for themselves or they’re not resilient. As someone that’s been doing this trauma-informed group for a long time, again I say this in air quotes…Let me just slow down because I got really excited about that. Did you hear that? I was like so excited.

But the more that we can give our students agency, the more that we can allow them to feel empowered within their own selves. This is what starts to break down the things of trauma, you know? Feeling strong with it, within my own body to say yes and to say no.

[00:43:27]

Right and this tone of infantilizing it’s it’s very similar to that model of charity. It’s very similar to that model of like “I’m here to help you. I have all of your answers”. That’s also very oppressive. Please let’s talk to people like there people. Do it with empathy of course but people not broken humans.

It’s one of the things that hurts me a lot because it can be felt. Our students can feel exactly our intentions. When you come into a room anything that folks are broken, they feel that or they’re not capable they feel that.

[00:44:15]

I want to instill my students with like “you’re capable, you’re confident, you can do this, you can manage”. Positive reinforcement. If things are challenging yes but never am I wanting to coddle them because that limits their growth potential.

Putting stress on the body is a really important tool in building personal resilience. Being able to say “hey I didn’t like that”. That’s then that’s something that like for me is somebody who’s experienced trauma. That’s like one of my biggest revolutions is being able to say “no I don’t like that” because it’s very hard for those that have experienced trauma. I’m going to speak from my own experience, I still to this day have to muster the courage to say no.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:45:10]

Oh my goodness, so many great thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing all of that.

Rochelle Miller:

Thanks for having me.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

If people want to follow you online, check out your Web site, or social media, where should they go to do all that?

Rochelle Miller:

Yeah. You can go to @microrevolutions is our Instagram or microrevolution.ca. There’s some pay what you can resources and classes that you can take on there. And if you don’t just come get inspired. I mostly just want to share positivity. My grandmother always says it’s like “you’re intended to be in the world as a blessing to others”. I hope that people just come and be able to share in the goodness and abundance in any way that feels good for them.

Kathryn Bruni-Young: [00:46:08]

Amazing. Well, thank you so much. And we will definitely have all of your links in the show notes.

Rochelle Miller:

Amazing. Thank you so much again for having me. Thank you everybody for listening to all of my little tangents there. That was really awesome. Thank you.

Kathryn Bruni-Young:

Yeah. My pleasure.


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