While in Haiti, we partnered with The Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM), an organization that works both locally and internationally, offering a holistic approach to psychotherapy. Their Global Trauma Relief Programs uses experiential learning to train community members to lead 10-week group therapy sessions utilizing various alternative modalities such as yoga, creative writing, dance, meditation, etc.
Our main goal was encouraging community leaders to engage in personal self-care practices, as well as to feel confident introducing basic yoga stretches into their psychotherapy groups. Our secondary goal was to teach the yoga component of the 10-week trauma recovery programs to children attending these CMBM groups in local schools.
And everywhere we taught, our students asked for more yoga – in fact, we arrived with 9 schedule workshops and left having taught 13. During our 10-day trip, we visited multiple organizations throughout Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, a sea-side village about 100km from the capitol. The 266 students we taught ranged in age and diversity from 60-year-old voodoo healers to 5-year-old students still living in temporary camps. We partnered with psychologists, priests, and teachers, following the CMBM model, and we are already in negotiations about returning sometime in the winter.
Last year, an article came out critiquing organizations that sent yoga mats and other charitable donations to developing world countries. And we have to admit, as we boarded the plane with 35 yoga mats in tow, we were uncertain of how yoga would be received by Hatians. But as it turns out, Haiti actually does need our yoga mats. And they want more! We can’t wait until next time.
Katie and Lisa