For Now We are Free | Dr. Arielle Schwartz

A Poetic Soul Bath

For Now We Are Free, Dr. Arielle Schwartz

In this post, I share with you a poem called “For Now We are Free” that I wrote after the Polyvagal Institute gathering in the fall of 2022. (Learn more about the Polyvagal Institute and sign up to join me at the 2024 Gathering)

Polyvagal theory teaches us that our own personal journey of healing and embodiment is intricately connected to other people and the world around us. I invite you to sit back and receive these words.

I offer this poem from my heart and as in invitation to a sense of freedom, I hold it as a beacon of hope that this freedom is possible…not just for some of us, but for all of us. I invite you to allow these words to carry you like a poetic soul bath.

No Man is an Island

Polyvagal theory offers that the health of each individual is connected to our relational, social and cultural exchanges in the world. Your nervous system is an open circuit that dynamically receives and responds to the world around you. We are all wired to receive cues of threat as well as cues of safety.

Moreover, we each exist within fields of relationships–relationships to the earth, each other, as well as the global climate we share. These field are sometimes sources of regulation through experiences of relational safety or they are sources of dysregulation especially when we have experienced betrayal, maltreatment, abuse, or neglect.

In other words, we can draw upon the wise words of 17th century theologian and poet, John Donne, who stated “no man is an island” (Donne, 1987). 

For Now We are Free

This poem brings is inspired by the quote by Fannie Mae Townsend Hamer who said, “Nobody is free until we are all free.”

For Now We are Free by Dr. Arielle Schwartz
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The Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga Book | Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Therapeutic Practices for Emotional Health

Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga Schwartz

As subscribers to my work, you have an opportunity to receive 20% off and Free Shipping through Norton Publishers. You can navigate there and use the code APVTNEWS at checkout or simply use this link (the coupon has already been applied):

Treat Trauma Holistically

Unresolved trauma is one of the leading causes of other-presenting mental and physical health concerns, including increased likelihood for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, or suicidality. Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga allows us to compassionately understand and address the imbalances within the autonomic nervous symptom that form the basis of most mood, anxiety, or traumatic stress-related disorders. Recovery from trauma requires interventions that restore our nervous system to be more flexible and resilient. A resilient nervous system is better equipped to handle the inevitable stressors of life.

The Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga book focuses on the intersection of polyvagal theory, yoga, and psychotherapy by weaving together the wisdom tradition of yoga with neuroscience, attachment theory, somatic psychology, and traumatology. The application of polyvagal theory allows practitioners to compassionately support growth by enhancing the health of the autonomic nervous system, while therapeutic yoga allows one to attend to the interrelationships between mind, emotions, physiology, and behavior.

Applied polyvagal theory in yoga provides conscious breathing, vagal toning, mindful movement, and meditation practices that aid in rewiring the nervous system. Readers will discover how to help both clients and themselves cultivate a felt sense of ease during times of safety; enhance their capacity to handle challenges with equanimity; and reclaim their ability to recover from stress swiftly and efficiently. 

Hope in the Midst of Despair

Applied polyvagal Theory in Yoga Schwartz

I began writing this book as our world was navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this time, our frontline health care workers and mental health providers faced unprecedented stress and burnout. Here in my Boulder, Colorado community, the Marshall wildfire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in the course of a single day. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine raged onward as an earthquake in Turkey and Syria accounted for over 46,000 deaths and uprooted the lives of countless others. Since completing the book, profound aggression continues to devastate those in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and throughout the middle east. Collective feelings of helplessness and anger exacerbated by polarized political situations throughout the world continue to leave those in disenfranchised groups with the least access to mental and physical health care.

As a result of shelter in place mandates back in 2020, many of us became increasingly isolated. Ultimately, this led to an epidemic of loneliness. Nonetheless, we persisted. So many of our community connections needed to occur virtually. Just as the world seemed to be careening toward an existential crisis of despair, we tune in and listen; we express care for each other’s well-being across a distance. 

The need for a spiritual sense of meaning and connection has been paramount during this time. Amidst the profound loss, many of us discovered positive changes that served as a reminder that distress can coexist with well-being. As yoga studios shut down in March of 2020, I, too, moved my classes onto an online platform (You can learn more and sign up for a class here). After over 25 years of teaching students in person, I learned to adapt to this new technological interface. My trauma-informed yoga class, which had previously only been available to those in my local community, became and remains an international group of devoted yoga students. 

In the fall of 2020 I taught the first Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga course which became the inspiration for this book. Since that time, I have had the opportunity to guide thousands of students within international communities—and the ripple effect of this work continues. As written in the dedication:

“To all who know suffering and seek to alleviate the collective burdens we carry: The deep calm within me bows and recognizes the deep calm within you.”

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

What is Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga?

Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga Image Credit Sabrina Husain Bajakian Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The purpose of this book is to provide psychotherapists, yoga therapists, and yoga teachers with simple yogic interventions that can be offered to clients or students to facilitate greater mind–body wellness through the applied science of Polyvagal Theory. The book focuses on the intersection of Polyvagal Theory, yoga, and psychotherapy. Another way of looking at this is that we are honing in on where science, soma, and soul meet.

The vagus nerve is best understood to be a conduit of connections between the brainstem, eyes, ears, throat, heart, and viscera (gut). In times of safety, the vagus nerve along with the parasympathetic nervous system initiates a relaxation response. In this case, the vagal brake inhibits the mobilization of the sympathetic nervous system that reduces cortisol, lowers heart rate, slows down the breath, and enhances digestion. However, when in danger, the vagus nerve and PNS can initiate a rapid reduction of the heart rate, or faint response which can lead you to feel collapsed, fatigued, or shut down.

Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga aims to demystify traditional practices by highlighting the physiological mechanisms of change. The integrative model presented within the pages of this book weaves together the wisdom tradition of yoga with modern perspectives drawn from neuroscience, attachment theory, somatic psychology, and traumatology. Yogic breath, movement, and awareness practices can be seamlessly integrated into psychotherapy sessions to enhance the efficacy of other interventions. Moreover, we encourage clients and students to utilize these regulating strategies outside of sessions or classes. Through repetition, the neural pathways associated with social engagement, safe mobilization into play, and safe immobilization into rest become more accessible.

The practice of yoga guides us to practice letting go of the urge to ruminate on the past or worry about the future by returning our attention and curiosity to the present-moment experience. The rhythmic predictability of the breath and sensory anchors of the felt sense help us develop greater tolerance for the unknown. Each time we move into the here and now we have choice to move out of the automaticity of threat-based reactivity. We can pause, reflect, and perhaps discover a quality of spaciousness or peacefulness. Herein, we access a felt sense of “coming home” or an implicit knowing of our own wholeness. This is the gift of yoga.

From Illness to Wellness

Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga Image Credit Sabrina Husain Bajakian Dr. Arielle Schwartz

No matter how traumatized we are, we still carry within us an intrinsic capacity to feel joy, warmth, gratitude, appreciation, and love. Strengthening our access to these positive emotions is as equally important as attending to our pain when it comes to trauma recovery. A holistic approach to trauma treatment not only allows us to focus on the elimination of our clients’ distress but also invites us to recognize their inherent wholeness. A shift from an “Illness” model of care to a “Wellness” model mirrors a transition from “I” to “We” in which we attend to the union that exists not only within us as individuals but also between us and others.

This book is not only written as a set of interventions that we might offer to a client or student, but also discusses how all of us must focus on attending to our own nervous systems, bodies, and minds. Thus, rather than speaking about “them,” I offer this body of work as a set of tools for all of “us.” In truth, the only person you can change is yourself and when you are residing in a place of connection to your deepest, wisest, most compassionate Self, you are better able to offer your presence to others. The role of psychotherapist or yoga teacher is not about fixing the other; rather, healing arises as a result of feeling safe enough within trustworthy relationships, whether the connection that arises is with yourself or another. All change begins with cultivating a connection to yourself.

I hope that you will join me as part of our global community in reading this book. 

As subscribers to my work, you have an opportunity to receive 20% off and Free Shipping through Norton Publishers. You can navigate there and use the code APVTNEWS at checkout or simply use this link (the coupon has already been applied):

Images by Sabrina Husain Bajakian

Advanced Praise for Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga

“This well-researched book not only cites the most current applicable studies related to brain science and yoga as they impact mental health, but also provides a steady and thorough summary of yoga’s ancient wisdom as it applies to Polyvagal Theory and psychotherapy…Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga has become a valued and validating reference as I offer LifeForce Yoga practices to the yoga and mental health professionals I serve. No matter the healing modality in which you work, I fully endorse the many gifts this book has to offer you and your clients.”
 
— Amy Weintraub, founder of LifeForce Yoga, and author of Yoga Skills for Therapists,
Yoga for Depression, and the Yoga for Your Mood Deck (from Amy’s foreword to the book)
 
“This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to deepen their knowledge of the power of somatic approaches to trauma healing. Drawing on the wisdom of yoga and the science of Polyvagal Theory, Dr. Arielle Schwartz offers practical tools and strategies to help clinicians guide their clients to release stress, rewire their nervous system, and find a sense of peace. This book will help you support yourself and others through the journey of trauma healing and recovery.”
? Scott Lyons, PhD, holistic psychologist, mind–body medicine specialist, founder of The Embody Lab, and author of Addicted to Drama

“In this beautifully articulated book, Arielle Schwartz leads the way into a deep and wide exploration of body wisdom. Her brilliance lies in her capacity to curate a path of consilience across three major disciplines: science, soma, and soul. Each chapter offers polyvagal-informed yoga practices that enable readers to bring her model to life.”
? Jan Winhall, Polyvagal Institute, author of Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model

“Trauma is a complex, multi-layered topic with a lot of interconnected pieces. It therefore makes sense that healing requires an integrative and multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Arielle Schwartz provides this?which is no easy thing. But, her real genius is presenting these ideas in a practical, actionable, and easy-to-follow way that gets results. A highly recommended read, and an important contribution to our field.”
? Alex Howard, author of It’s Not Your Fault and creator of Therapeutic Coaching™

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Photo Credit: Jes Kimak

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is a psychologist, internationally sought-out teacher, yoga instructor, and leading voice in the healing of PTSD and complex trauma. She is the author of five books, including The Complex PTSD WorkbookEMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology, and The Post Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

Dr. Schwartz is an accomplished teacher who guides therapists in the application of EMDR, somatic psychology, parts work therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of trauma and complex PTSD. She guides you through a personal journey of healing in her Sounds True audio program, Trauma Recovery. 

She has a depth of understanding, passion, kindness, compassion, joy, and a succinct way of speaking about very complex topics. She is the founder of the Center for Resilience Informed Therapy in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Dr. Schwartz believes that that the journey of trauma recovery is an awakening of the spiritual heart.

Applied Polyvagal Theory In Therapeutic Yoga

30-Hour Certification with The Embody Lab

Dr. Schwartz Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga

You are invited to step into a journey of empowerment, to learn the power of Applied Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Yoga to heal & release trauma and to engage in a quest for wholeness.

Through the lens of Polyvagal Theory, you will learn about how the vagus nerve is a bi-directional information highway between mind and body—more importantly, you will learn breath, movement, and awareness practices that become the building blocks of a life-changing daily practice.

Stress and trauma can lead to imbalances in the physiology of the autonomic nervous system. If these imbalances are left unaddressed, they can lead to mental and physical health problems. Perhaps you are an individual who suffers with anxiety, depression, or the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Maybe you are a therapist or yoga instructor who works to support the well-being of others. In either case, this course is developed to support you.

About the Program

Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga Schwartz

This course is open to anyone (i.e yoga teachers, therapists, parents, teachers, etc.) interested in the application of Polyvagal Theory from a multidisciplinary holistic approach. We will use psychology, meditation and yoga to embody these practices and learn to apply them in our everyday lives.

This 3-part Certificate training, comprised of Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, will guide you through an experiential journey to support your wellness while connected to our online Embody Lab community.

Each level comprises 10 hours of study.  Each 2.5-hour gathering focuses on encouraging your sense of connection in a caring online community, offers teaching about Applied Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Yoga, and guides you through an experiential yoga practice. 

Level 1: Within the first ten hours of this training you will develop an understanding of the 8-limbs of yoga for trauma recovery. We will explore key elements of polyvagal theory as applied to yoga including how to integrate vagal toning, neuroception of psychological safety, and co-regulation within the practice. Each class offers lecture, practice, and group discussion. Classes are offered on a yoga mat, however accessible modifications and chair yoga alternatives are offered.

Level 2: Dr. Arielle Schwartz deepens your journey of Applied Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Yoga with topics that expand into the connection between stress, trauma, and your health. You will learn how trauma can dysregulate the nervous system and discover the tools to facilitate greater access balance and wellbeing. In the ten hours of level two we will apply core principles of body-centered psychotherapies into therapeutic yoga. You will also learn brain and body integration practices including bilateral movements and reflex integration. You will come away with compassion based practices to work through barriers to wellness.

Level 3: Dr. Arielle Schwartz helps you to compassionately explore how dissociation can show up in a yoga practice and discover pendulation strategies to navigate nervous system states. You will learn how to integrate parts work therapies to work with your internal family system through body dialogues on the yoga mat. We will deepen the journey through applied polyvagal theory in therapeutic yoga with restorative practices and a trauma-informed approach to meditation and yoga nidra. This 30 hour course concludes by teaching you tools to personalize the model to create therapeutic yoga practices for yourself, a student or a client including learning a model for a 6-week group class.

Program Schedule

Dr. Arielle Schwartz Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma

LEVEL 1: November 4th, 5th, 11th + 12th, 2023
Plus a live bonus session on November 28th, 2023

LEVEL 2: December 2nd, 3rd, 9th + 10th, 2023

LEVEL 3: January 20th, 21st, 27th + 28th, 2024
Plus a live bonus session on January 31st, 2024

This 30-hour Applied Polyvagal Theory in Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery certificate program will run live on zoom
LEVEL 1:
• November 4th,5th, 11th + 12th, 2023
  Each day will consist of 2.5 hours of training from 10:30am – 1pm ET.
• November 28th, 2023: Live Bonus Session with Dr. Arielle Schwartz and Deb Dana from 12:30pm – 2pm ET 

LEVEL 2:
• December 2nd, 3rd, 9th + 10th, 2023
  Each day will consist of 2.5 hours of training from 10:30am – 1pm ET. 

LEVEL 3:
• January 20th, 21st, 27th + 28th, 2024
  Each day will consist of 2.5 hours of training from 10:30am – 1pm ET.
• January 31st, 2024: Live Bonus Session with Dr. Arielle Schwartz and Dr. Stephen Porges from 11am – 12:30pm ET 

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Dr. Arielle Schwartz

This 30-hour Certification program is based upon Dr. Schwartz’s Vagus Nerve Yoga classes and her books, Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery (PESI Publishing, 2022), The Therapeutic Yoga Flip Chart (Pesi Publishing, 2023) and forthcoming book, Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga (Norton, 2024).

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery bridges this path of healing between the psyche and the body by walking you through the sacred practice of yoga so you can release the burdens of trauma from your body and mind.

Grounded within the principles of polyvagal theory, affective neuroscience, and trauma-informed care, this book will help you gain a better understanding of how our brains and bodies respond to stress and trauma and offer a self-led healing journey toward feeling more empowered, grounded, clearheaded, inspired, and at ease.

The Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Flip Chart bridges a path of healing between the psyche and the body. Grounded within the principles of polyvagal theory, affective neuroscience, and trauma-informed care, this flip chart will help clients:

  • Understand the impact of traumatic stress on the brain and body
  • Deepen awareness of their body’s vagal state
  • Identify when their nervous system is stuck in fight, flight, freeze, or faint
  • Let go of defensive reactions connected to difficult memories of the past

Applied Polyavagal Theory in Yoga focuses on the intersection of polyvagal theory, yoga, and psychotherapy by weaving together the wisdom tradition of yoga with neuroscience, attachment theory, somatic psychology, and traumatology. The application of polyvagal theory allows practitioners to compassionately support growth by enhancing the health of the autonomic nervous system, while therapeutic yoga allows one to attend to the interrelationships between mind, emotions, physiology, and behavior.

Applied polyvagal theory in yoga provides conscious breathing, vagal toning, mindful movement, and meditation practices that aid in rewiring the nervous system. Readers will discover how to help both clients and themselves cultivate a felt sense of ease during times of safety; enhance their capacity to handle challenges with equanimity; and reclaim their ability to recover from stress swiftly and efficiently. Applied Polyvagal Theory in Yoga offers practitioners a new and effective way to support clients who are stuck in a trauma response mode.

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Photo Credit: Jes Kimak

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is a psychologist, internationally sought-out teacher, yoga instructor, and leading voice in the healing of PTSD and complex trauma. She is the author of five books, including The Complex PTSD WorkbookEMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology, and The Post Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

Dr. Schwartz is an accomplished teacher who guides therapists in the application of EMDR, somatic psychology, parts work therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of trauma and complex PTSD. She guides you through a personal journey of healing in her Sounds True audio program, Trauma Recovery. 

She has a depth of understanding, passion, kindness, compassion, joy, and a succinct way of speaking about very complex topics. She is the founder of the Center for Resilience Informed Therapy in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Dr. Schwartz believes that that the journey of trauma recovery is an awakening of the spiritual heart.

Beyond Trauma: Join me in South Africa

A Guided Journey of Resilience, Hope and Growth

Beyond Trauma Dr. Arielle Schwartz

April 1-9, 2024 I will be leading a 9-day Beyond Trauma workshop hosted by Nature Connexion is designed to help you move past trauma, liberate yourself from emotional burdens, and transform your life. Join me as we embark upon a nature-based healing journey in the South African wilderness as I guide you on the path toward post-traumatic growth.

Not only will this course demystify trauma and the pain it causes, but it will empower you with the resources to help you move past hopelessness as you reclaim your strength and courage. This program which is based upon my award winning book, The Post-Traumatic Growth Guidebook, includes therapeutic writing, guided meditations, conscious breathing, vagal toning, and gentle therapeutic yoga to rewire your resilience.

Explore the Beyond Trauma Daily Schedule:

Discover the Detailed Beyond Trauma Program

Exploring Post-Traumatic Growth

Beyond Trauma Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Blyde river canyon plant rock and pond water

Trauma affects the best of us, and its effects can linger, limiting your ability to live with joy and abundance. Whether it occurred during a single event or repeated trauma, recently or in childhood, it can have lifelong effects: anxiety, depression, chronic health issues, flashbacks, a disconnection from the body, trust and intimacy challenges, or feeling worthless and broken.

Yet, as impossible as it may seem, you can return to wholeness.

Beyond Trauma is a retreat designed to support your wellbeing and growth after trauma.  

In this heart-opening and experiential setting, you’ll:

  • Discover how my 6 R’s can help you move past trauma by rewiring your nervous system
  • Learn the 5 types of resilience — and how to develop your own method for discovering what’s best for you
  • Discover how to access your deep well of spiritual resilience through awareness of your authentic nature 
  • Explore the vagus nerve and why it’s called the body’s superhighway to health
  • Be given simple tools for regulating your nervous system to give you greater control over how you respond
  • Be guided through your Hero/Hereoine’s journey with experiential, body-centered tools to foster post-traumatic growth
  • Connect with a like-minded community

You’ll discover that accessing your intrinsic wisdom with practical tools can help you feel more connected to yourself and others — and view these traumatic times as a portal leading to unparalleled growth and empowerment.

The South African Experience

Dr. Arielle Schwartz Beyond Trauma
Leopard in Kruger National Park

Limpopo province is a land of beautiful and contrasting landscapes with scenic beauty and a diversity of wildlife. The highlight of this program will take place in the Timbavati game reserve which provides home for lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo.

You will become a bush explore through authentic safaris escorted by professional field guides on foot and in open 4 x 4 vehicles.

Being away from light pollution will allow you to be awed by the millions of stars flickering above your head…Big Skies and Big Dreams.

You will visit the Kruger national park, Blyde River Canyon which is the 3rd largest canyon in the world and visit an elephant orphanage.

This event has been designed to be available to everyone; it is an all-levels event, open to anyone. No specific physical condition is required. The walking terrain is flat and easy and the yoga will be gentle. Any movements offered can also be done seated in a chair. Comfortable clothing is recommended for ease of movement.

Space is limited: This program is limited to 25 attendees to provide a uniquely tailored experience for you.

I hope that you will join me.

Trauma Healing & Wilderness Therapy

Why bring the Beyond Trauma to the wilderness?

Pricing and Details

Dr. Arielle Schwartz Beyond Trauma South Africa

When: April 1-9, 2024

What is Included:

  • Daily Trauma Healing Workshop with Dr. Schwartz
  • Yoga and Meditation Sessions
  • Safari Activities & Bush Walks in Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, and Elephant Orphanage
  • All meals
  • Airport Transfers

Price:

Early Bird Payment before September 1st, 2023: $4,590

After September 1st, 2023: $4,950

What is not Included:

  • International and Domestic airfare
  • Travel Insurance
  • Spa add ons
  • Laundry
  • Alcoholic drinks

Dr. Arielle Schwartz Beyond Trauma

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Photo Credit: Jes Kimak

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is a psychologist, internationally sought-out teacher, yoga instructor, and leading voice in the healing of PTSD and complex trauma. She is the author of five books, including The Complex PTSD WorkbookEMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology, and The Post Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

Dr. Schwartz is an accomplished teacher who guides therapists in the application of EMDR, somatic psychology, parts work therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of trauma and complex PTSD. She guides you through a personal journey of healing in her Sounds True audio program, Trauma Recovery. 

She has a depth of understanding, passion, kindness, compassion, joy, and a succinct way of speaking about very complex topics. She is the founder of the Center for Resilience Informed Therapy in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Dr. Schwartz believes that that the journey of trauma recovery is an awakening of the spiritual heart.

Vagal Toning: A Journey Home to Self

Embodied Spirituality

Vagal Toning with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Many of us have been taught that our spirituality is something that exists outside of us and that it is disconnected from our bodies.

What if those teachings had it backwards? What if your connection to your soul, to your wisest self, lives right here, under your skin, inside of your heart, your belly, your hips. Vagal toning is a way to tap into your body’s intelligence, one breath at a time.

The idea that we must seek our source of wisdom from outside of us disconnects us from our intuition…as a result it can become more difficult to make decisions, navigate our relationships, and feel connected to the world around us. 

Embodied spirituality resides at the intersection between science, soma, and your soul. 

Through a process of listening to your body, you re-align your life so that all of your choices, relationships, and actions become a form of soulful living…from the ground up, you can reclaim your embodied spiritual self. 

Science

Vagal Toning with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Science looks at the research about why and how breath, movement, and awareness practices work. A key player in the mind-body relationship is your vagus nerve. This 10th cranial nerve functions as a superhighway of communication that connects your brain to your gut, heart, lungs, as well as the small key muscles within and around your throat, face, eyes, and ears. In short, your vagus nerve helps your body do its job, helping you respond to stress and return to restful states of ease.

The vagus nerve connects your mind and body and allows you to sense your innermost self. More specifically, your vagus nerve connects to your stomach and intestines which have been termed your enteric nervous system or belly brain. Your digestive system is profoundly intelligent in helping you navigate the world and it helps you to discern nourishing experiences from those that are unhealthy. This is true in relationship to food as your digestive system can distinguish nutrients from waste…and in the case of food poisoning will wisely reject that which is toxic. 

Your belly brain also helps you to digest all of the life experiences that you take in from your relationships, your family, and your environment. You instinctively have a gut reaction to experiences that feel good or nourishing as distinct from those that feel frightening or dangerous.

Unfortunately, some of us had to disconnect from our gut wisdom for the sake of survival. For example, if you grew up in an unsafe home you may have had to override your inner wisdom for the sake of attachment and relationships. This is because we all need relationships to survive and we will make even the unsafe ones good enough if that is all that we have got.

There is hope…and vagal toning is a key to reclaiming your birthright of safety, clarity, and inner calm. 

Soma

Vagal Toning with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Soma is Greek for body and the integration of body awareness invites you to deepen your relationship to your felt self. What does it mean to become embodied? Sometimes this comes naturally and for some of us, we have disconnected from our soma because living in this human world is challenging. Many of us have coped by learning to disconnect from our sensations.

With practice, you can learn to turn toward your experience of discomfort. However, reclaiming a relationship to your body needs to happen slowly, at a pace that you can tolerate. Slowly you can begin to develop trust again, in yourself, in your somatic experience, and in your inner voice.

The felt sense of contraction, when held wisely, can become the foundation for your deepest healing and growth. If this is new, you might feel the urge to push away the discomfort. You also learn to turn toward sensations of ease or pleasure. Engaging in vagal toning practices invites you into a felt-sense of safety that helps you to reclaim a relationship to your body.

Soul

Vagal Toning with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Soul invites you to listen deeply to the voice of your intuition, your wisest self, that is always accessible when you turn your attention inward with curiosity and compassion. Soul can be thought of as the deepest center of our identity that houses your sense of meaning and purpose. This helps us bridge the gap between our tangible, measurable physical world and the subtle, phenomenological qualities of our internal experience.

Soulwork is an invitation to discover the quiet, still, and unchanging Self that resides in the depths of your being. Spirituality can be thought of as a sense of belonging or connection to something beyond yourself, an interconnectedness with all of nature and life

When you have a history of trauma or chronic health conditions it is valuable to attend not only to your psychological and physical symptoms but also to your spiritual well-being. Chronic conditions can dramatically impact your sense of self. Many psychological and medical interventions tend to focus on reducing or eliminating distress without recognizing that many of us are also seeking experiences, connection, contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, and optimism for the future.

Vagal Toning for Mind-Body Health

Vagal Toning with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Being human involves inevitable exposure to stress, and research suggests that most of us will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in our lifetimes. These challenging life events tend to take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. You might feel keyed up in anxiety or shut down by fatigue and depression. It is also common to experience health challenges such as migraines, digestive imbalances, or inflammation of your joints. 

When we look at the root cause of these symptoms, we recognize that they all come from a common source which is a dysregulation of your autonomic nervous system or your body’s innate stress response system…and this is regulated by the vagus nerve. 

So, what is Vagal Toning? Simply put, vagal toning means you are adding gentle stimulation to this nerve pathway through breath, sound, eye-movements, self-applied touch, and gentle movements that help your body optimize your well-being. Bodywork, time in nature, meditation, and mindful movement such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong all engage the vagus nerve to nourish your nervous system 

As a result of vagal toning practices, many people immediately feel a shift. This might be a subtle sense of calm, an urge to yawn, or a spontaneous sigh. Sometimes these practices lead increase your access to emotions or sensations. If this is new, you might feel a little bit uncomfortable at first. Some people even feel a little nauseas or dizzy the first few times. But overtime and with repeated practice most people begin to notice a greater feeling of ease, connection, and inner peace.

A Journey Home to Self

Vagal Toning Dr. Arielle Schwartz Boulder, CO

Have you ever had difficulty making decisions? Do you sometimes feel disconnected from your intuition? Vagal toning practices lay down a pathway that brings you home to your true self.

Remember, your vagus nerve connects your mind and body and allows you to sense your innermost self. However, ongoing stress or trauma can lead you to feel disconnected from your body. This can lead to profound sense of confusion or you might feel cut-off from your emotions and sensations. 

By toning the vagus nerve you re-awaken yourself to your instinctual wisest self that says “yes” I like this, or “no” that is not good for me. You clarify your boundaries and you re-orient your life based upon this inner compass that is always with you. It becomes easier to make decisions, to know who to trust, and to listen to the inner voice or your true self.

Vagal Toning Practice Group with Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The above practice guides through natural vagus nerve stimulation practices. Based upon my book, Therapeutic yoga for Trauma Recovery, I share with you some key practices to held you regulate your nervous system.

Regulation of the nervous system relies upon the goldilocks principle. We recognize we are “too hot” when we feel keyed up, anxious, irritable, or panicky. We are too “too cold” when we are shut down, depressed, or feeling hopeless. Sometimes we alternate between the two which is like driving with one foot on the gas and one on the brakes. Practices that regulate the vagus nerve are aimed towards either relaxing or re-energizing ourselves depending upon what is needed to feel “just right.”

What is vagal tone?

Vagal tone is measured through the oscillations in heart rate variability that occur with the breath. This is referred to as Heart Rate Variability or HRV. Healthy tone of your vagus nerve involves a slight increase in heart rate on the inhalation and a decrease inheart rate when you exhale.

Healthy vagal tone can be thought of as an optimal balance of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system actions. People with higher HRV can move more easily from excitement to relaxed and can recover more easily from stress.

Simply put, vagal toning means you are adding gentle stimulation to the vagus nerve pathway through breath, sound, eye-movements, self-applied touch, and gentle movements that help you come into balance.

Since most of us are sympathetic dominant, balance involves more down-regulation of the nervous system into the parasympathetic. However, some of need up-regulating strategies to come out of fatigue or collapse. In that case, the same balancing vagal toning practices will still work, and you can also emphasize the inhalation and gentle expansive movements to up-regulate your system whereas you would emphasize the exhalation and inward awareness to down-regulate your system.

And what is happening as we tone the vagus nerve? We are strengthening the nerve pathway of the social engagement system through repeated practices within the context of connection and safety and we are resetting baseline HRV through conscious breathing, movement, and self-compassion.

Beginning in April 2024, I will be offering Vagal Toning Practice Groups. This will be an opportunity for those looking to deepen their understanding to gather and enjoy the benefits of a group learning environment. These sessions will run for an hour and fifteen minutes, allowing for a 30-minute practice and 30-minute Q&A. While these groups are open to anyone, it is recommended that attendees have participated in a vagal toning course or training with me prior to joining.

  • When: April 23rd 12:00-1:15 MT | May 28th 12:00-1:15 MT
  • How Much: $40 per group practice session
  • Who: For those who have participated in a vagal toning training with Dr. Schwartz or anyone interested in deepening their understanding of vagal toning, regardless of experience level.

Follow the link below to complete payment. Once payment has processed, you will be redirected to a Zoom Registration Page to register for the group. *Please note that you must complete both the payment and Zoom Registration in order to secure your spot and receive access details.

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Photo Credit: Jes Kimak

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is a psychologist, internationally sought-out teacher, yoga instructor, and leading voice in the healing of PTSD and complex trauma. She is the author of five books, including The Complex PTSD WorkbookEMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology, and The Post Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

Dr. Schwartz is an accomplished teacher who guides therapists in the application of EMDR, somatic psychology, parts work therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of trauma and complex PTSD. She guides you through a personal journey of healing in her Sounds True audio program, Trauma Recovery. 

She has a depth of understanding, passion, kindness, compassion, joy, and a succinct way of speaking about very complex topics. She is the founder of the Center for Resilience Informed Therapy in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Dr. Schwartz believes that that the journey of trauma recovery is an awakening of the spiritual heart.

Beyond Trauma: A Guided Journey of Resilience, Hope and Growth

Exploring Post-Traumatic Growth

Trauma affects the best of us, and its effects can linger, limiting your ability to live with joy and abundance. Whether it occurred during a single event or repeated trauma, recently or in childhood, it can have lifelong effects: anxiety, depression, chronic health issues, flashbacks, a disconnection from the body, trust and intimacy challenges, or feeling worthless and broken.

Yet, as impossible as it may seem, you can return to wholeness.

Beyond Trauma is a weekend-long retreat designed to support your wellbeing and growth after trauma.  

Let’s Engage the Journey of Resilience, Hope and Growth Together

Dr. Arielle Schwartz

I am offering an in-person training, “Beyond Trauma: A Guided Journey of Resilience, Hope and Growth” at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. The retreat, which will run June 9th-11th, 2023, is based upon my award-winning book The Post-Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

This event has been designed to be available to everyone; it is an all-levels event, open to anyone including those who’ve never done yoga. Any movements offered can also be done seated in a chair. Comfortable clothing is recommended for ease of movement and simply to be as comfortable as possible during training.

In this heart-opening and experiential setting, you’ll:

  • Discover how my 6 R’s can help you move past trauma by rewiring your nervous system
  • Learn the 5 types of resilience — and how to develop your own method for discovering what’s best for you
  • Discover how to access your deep well of spiritual resilience through awareness of your authentic nature 
  • Explore the vagus nerve and why it’s called the body’s superhighway to health
  • Be given simple tools for regulating your nervous system to give you greater control over how you respond
  • Be guided through your Hero/Hereoine’s journey with experiential, body-centered tools to foster post-traumatic growth
  • Connect with a like-minded community

Beyond Trauma

You’ll discover that accessing your intrinsic wisdom with practical tools can help you feel more connected to yourself and others — and view these traumatic times as a portal leading to unparalleled growth and empowerment.

Join me to discover how you can heal past trauma, be happier and healthier, and live with more purpose and meaning. At the retreat, you’ll be invited to participate in therapeutic journaling and yoga, guided meditations, conscious breathing, and group discussion. As you work through these tools, you may find that you can then help others to free themselves as well.

In this free video, I give you an introduction to the offering, giving you a felt experience for what I teach and how I approach this work. I hope you will consider joining us in Boone, NC, June 9th-11th, 2023, for this transformative event. Tuition is $320, plus lodging and meals, which are available through the program.

Learn More

Learn more about the “Beyond Trauma: A Guided Journey of Resilience, Hope and Growth” Retreat offering.

I hope that you will join me.

About Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Therapeutic Yoga for Trauma Recovery Dr. Arielle Schwartz
Photo Credit: Jes Kimak

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, is a psychologist, internationally sought-out teacher, yoga instructor, and leading voice in the healing of PTSD and complex trauma. She is the author of five books, including The Complex PTSD WorkbookEMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology, and The Post Traumatic Growth Guidebook.

Dr. Schwartz is an accomplished teacher who guides therapists in the application of EMDR, somatic psychology, parts work therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of trauma and complex PTSD. She guides you through a personal journey of healing in her Sounds True audio program, Trauma Recovery. 

She has a depth of understanding, passion, kindness, compassion, joy, and a succinct way of speaking about very complex topics. She is the founder of the Center for Resilience Informed Therapy in Boulder, Colorado where she maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy, supervision, and consultation. Dr. Schwartz believes that that the journey of trauma recovery is an awakening of the spiritual heart.

Rewire your Resilience: The Science of Change

Supporting your Growth

Rewire Your Resilience Dr. Arielle Schwartz

According to Hebb’s law, what fires together, wires together. Whatever you repeatedly think, feel, and sense builds new or strengthens existing patterns of neural connections in the brain. The science of neuroplasticity teaches us that our brains are constantly learning and that we can shape our growth in a wanted direction. 

Accessing and focusing on positive states can help you to rewire your resilience. Your mind is a powerful tool that allows you to focus your attention like a lens. Perhaps you notice a tendency to focus on losses from your past or fears for your future. While we do want to attend to these painful places, we also need to build our resources so that our hurts or worries do not dominate our world view. 

You can build your resources by recalling times that you have felt cared for, safe, or empowered. Mindful movement is also a powerful way to enhance positive feelings and jump-start your neuroplasticity. With ongoing practice, it can become easier to sustain a connection to the buoyancy that resources provide.

This post will help you identify one of the most common barriers to growth and guides you to courageously move toward your potential. 

Understanding Neuroplasticity

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Yoga and Internal Family Systems Therapy

Already Whole

Yogic philosophy states that you are already whole and deeply connected to the world around you. 

To engage in yoga does not make you more complete, rather the practice invites you to see past illusions and remove obstacles that prevent you from knowing your innate true nature. 

The physical practice of yoga invites you to experiment with energizing movement and breath practices that are enlivening, empowering, playful, and strengthening. Ultimately, the aim of these practices is to cultivate a felt experience of equanimity as a counterpoint to the destabilizing impacts of stress and trauma. From this foundation, you can settle into stillness and allow yourself to be nourished by states of rest and relaxation.

The integration of Yoga and Internal Family Systems Therapy gives us tools for working with vulnerable emotions and sensations when they arise on the yoga mat. The conscious use of breath, mindful movement, and meditation help us to find our center, the place within that is untouched by the traumatic events of our lives. This act of centering brings us home to the Self and helps us to access a state of compassion and clarity—now we can attend to our wounds with wisdom.

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Beyond Trauma To Healing

Awakening Post-Traumatic Growth

Trauma affects the best of us, and effects can linger, limiting your ability to live your life with joy and abundance.  

Unresolved, traumatic experiences may lead to anxiety and depression, significantly affecting your physical and mental health. 

While experiencing painful events is unavoidable, trauma doesn’t have to dominate your life or detract from your capacity for joy.  

You have the power to determine its ultimate impact on your life, develop methods of resilience, and even rediscover trust, which helps you move past chronic suffering towards hope and true happiness.

Beyond Trauma is a 7-week online event created to support your wellbeing and growth after trauma.  

Let’s Grow Together

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Interoception: A Key to Wellbeing | Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Interoception Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Mindful body awareness awakens you to your inner world…this sensory interior is scientifically referred to as interoception. This key to wellbeing invites you to pay attention to your felt sense. As you get to know the territory of your inner landscape you will learn to trust your gut as a kind of compass that wisely guides your decisions and actions in the world. 

Dr. Stephen Porges, who offered us polyvagal theory, refers to interoception as our sixth sense that allows us to become aware of our instinctual responses to our environment (Porges, 2011). Your vagus nerve communicates all of your body’s sensory cues to your brain—a process that occurs without conscious awareness.

When you pay attention to your internal feedback, you not only enhance your emotional intelligence but can learn to carry this wisdom into the world in a manner that enhances your health and relationships…

Dr. Arielle Schwartz
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