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The Joyful Warrior

Based on nature’s seasonal turning points, we are reminded that the beauty of each season brings with it a shift in our own life. As we enter the season of autumn and darkness, thes...

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Easing PTSD with Yoga-based Trauma Therapy – A Personal Journey

September 3, 2015

A commentary by Kate Roberts – a recent graduate of the 200 HR Integrative Yoga Therapy training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness.

I came to Yoga by way of a car crash that nearly killed me, ending life as I knew it and the life that I had planned. I was 20 and had just discovered who I wanted to be and where I wanted my life to go when I earned by EMT-B certification with the intention of enrolling in nursing school when I returned to college. All that changed on July 16, 2000, when I visited my sister’s family on their ranch in Paradise Valley, MT, to meet their newest edition, Tyler, while on my days off from Lake Hospital in Yellowstone National Park. After driving to Emigrant for pizza and a movie my sister’s car was run off the 75 mph highway by an oncoming motorist in too big of a hurry and passing a motor home on a double-yellow line. My four month old nephew and I were both flown to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, MT, where he was pronounced brain-dead and I underwent brain- and various other- surgeries to save my life. I was placed in a medically-induced coma for one of the two months I was in the hospital, opening my eyes for the first time on my Dad’s birthday, August 8th. Rehabilitation began while I was still an In-patient, doing such things as re-learning how to walk and how to hold an eating utensil. After my discharge, I continued rehabilitation with four more grueling months of physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. I was then spit-out of the medical system a fully-formed and healed adult… except that I wasn’t.

The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “an emotional response to” a negative event in one’s life. According to Judith Herman (1992) in Trauma and Recovery, traumatized individuals can range anywhere from a raped college student to a military combat soldier, from a car crash survivor to a grown man who was sexually abused as a child, from a prisoner-of-war to a housewife who is a prisoner in her own home. Survivors of trauma often suffer from a plethora of debilitating side-effects and symptoms which negatively impact their “quality of life” and are collectively known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (Emerson et al., 2009; Sparrowe, 2011).

Findings from studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others have shown Yoga-based trauma therapy to ease the “fight-or-flight” response (e.g. increased heart and respiration rates) triggered by the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which is a problematic and intrusive symptom among those suffering from PTSD (Emerson et al., 2009; Sparrowe, 2011). Trauma-sensitive Yoga was found to positively affect how patients were able to self-regulate (“calm down”) and reduce distressing physical and emotional symptoms when used in conjunction with traditional therapy methods in the treatment of trauma-induced PTSD (Sparrowe, 2011).

About three years after suffering my Traumatic Brain Injury, and while attending community classes in preparation for returning to college, I found Yoga. At my eldest sister’s prompting, my Mom suggested I attend a Yoga class—even researching where and when—until I finally acquiesced. It was a community class that consisted of women my Mom’s age. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the building and room used for the class, as well as the Yoga instructor, were all highly suitable for a Trauma-sensitive Yoga class (Emerson et al., 2009). The location of the building was one of safety for me, as it sat next the St. Vincent campus; the environment within the building was one of reverence, hushed but welcoming; the Yoga room contained no windows and no mirrors, had adequate but low lighting, and there was minimal outside noise; the instructor was friendly, welcoming, and very knowledgeable—everything I needed at this time in my life when nothing felt normal, including me.

Because survivors of trauma often dissociate from their bodies, the objective of Trauma-sensitive Yoga is to reacquaint a survivor with sensations in their body, which is similar to what I was doing at this time in my recovery: I was not only re-learning how to inhabit and maneuver my physical body, but I was also re-learning how to mentally re-connect with sensations in my body (Sparrowe, 2011). This was a loving and gentle Yoga class, where modifications for each body type were taught and encouraged.

Yoga taught me how to re-inhabit my body fully, how to interpret and regulate how I react to sensations, and how to embrace the new “me”.

Sparrowe, L. (2011). Transcending Trauma. Yoga International magazine. Retrieved from this source.  http://www.traumacenter.org/products/pdf_files/yoga_transcending_trauma.pdf

Emerson et al. (2009). Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: Principles, Practice, and Research. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 19. Retrieved from this source.   http://givebackyoga.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Trauma-IJYT-Article_.pdf

Herman, J. L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. Retrieved from this source.   https://www.uic.edu/classes/psych/psych270/PTSD.htm

American Psychological Association. (n.d.) Retrieved from this source.   http://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/

Bio PictKate Roberts is a Certified Yoga Instructor as well as 200-RYT certified. She began practicing Yoga after being severely injured in a 2000 car crash, when she found that it helped her find ‘balance’ in her life as she recovered from her injuries and completed college. Kate earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human and Health Performance—Health Promotion Option and a Minor in Art at Montana State University Billings in 2010.  Kate recently completed her 200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness adding therapeutic yoga to her teaching skills.  She enjoys gardening, reading, arts-crafts, and walking her dog Maggie.




Rediscovering Your Beautiful Self: Using yoga therapy to free yourself from your harshest critic- yourself

August 12, 2015

“As we think and act so our world becomes.” The Dhammapadda

I remember going on my first diet when I was thirteen years old. And since that tender, early age I had been struggling with what I believed was a weight problem all my life. It wasn’t until I started taking yoga classes, becoming a yoga teacher, and finally going through yoga therapy training that I fully understood I didn’t have a weight problem, I had a self-acceptance problem. Through most of my young adulthood I believed I was not thin enough, pretty enough, knowledgeable enough etc. etc. Yoga helped change how I viewed myself. Even better, yoga helped me break from my negative thinking patterns that went into the obsessive realm particularly when I was denying myself of food. Yoga helped heal me in three ways:

1. I learned to live more in the present moment. “I think, therefore I am,” is a famous philosophical phrase once spoken by Rene Descartes, and before yoga came into my life this is how I lived. Every thought that occurred in my mind was my reality. If I worried that my house was not clean enough for neighbors to visit, that was my reality. Never mind that the neighbors were coming over to see me and did not notice the dust in the corners. When I started taking yoga, the instructor said to “just breath, feel and listen to your body”. For the first time in a long time my mind stopped racing and I noticed my breath and began relaxing. I began to connect with a self that was non-critical, non-judging and beautiful just the way she was at that moment. She was inside me all my life but somehow I lost that connection within me. I now try to live by the philosophy, “I breathe, therefore I am”…. a much gentler way to live one’s life.

2. I became more compassionate with myself. In the past I was my harshest critic. I beat myself up if I could not fit in a pair of size 4 jeans. I became depressed every time I weighed myself…every single time. I began to use my breathing techniques I learned in yoga class and therapy training and applied it in my daily living. Rather than being upset when a driver angrily shook his head at me, I now take a deep breath and continue driving, moving on literally and mentally. I haven’t stepped on the dreaded weight scale for almost five years now. How I feel is much more important than a number on a cold metallic platform. When I occasionally do eat that greasy hamburger and French fry plate, instead of thinking negatively, full of regret, I shake it off, take a deep breath and move on. I find I can again start eating healthy the next day because I understand it’s not an all or nothing battle.

3. I have found my own beautiful self. I now understand that I am more than my worries about the future, much more than regrets about the past. I am my breath, my body, my soul and yes, even my busy little mind. I listen to how I feel when I am eating, when I am standing, conversing and engaging with others. I know I am worthy even if others don’t think I am. I try to find beauty in myself and I try to find beauty in others even if they don’t see it. Yoga helped me to see past the external self, to let go of judgment and competition with others. I now understand that we are all the same. We are all struggling in this world together. We are all beautiful and worthy beings.

The best thing about a yoga practice is that you can experience the benefits in the first class or therapy session that you take. You can experience the benefits with your first deep breath you take. However, this is an ongoing process, and the benefits grow exponentially as you stick with it. As time goes by you might also notice you feel calmer in your daily interactions with others. You might find yourself less reactive in life situations. You can recognize when you feel off-balance and try to maintain a positive attitude. Your happiness comes more from nurturing body, mind and spirit rather than external things and depending on others. The benefits of yoga have a snowball effect. So stick with it and understand that yoga is not about doing yoga but rather, it’s about being yoga every moment, every breath of the day.

Andrea Mathwich - NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness

Guest Teacher Bio: Andrea Mathwich M.A. is a Registered Yoga Instructor who works in Boulder County, Colorado. She recently received her certification from Integrative Yoga Therapy at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness in yoga with a therapeutic focus. She teaches senior yoga and vinyasa yoga in various settings. Her goals are to help people of all ages to build self-esteem and self-compassion in this increasingly disconnected world.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art, offering a private sanctuary in Highlands Ranch for private on-on-one yoga and therapy, 200HR Integrative Yoga Teacher Trainings, private classes, workshops and retreats.

Final Day of FREE YOGA IN THE PARK 2015 – Highlands Ranch, Colorado

August 7, 2015


Yoga is an opportunity to Let Life Touch You! To feel life, be affected by it, moved and shaped by life at every turn. We start by letting the breath touch us, then community, then body, then magically our spirit is also touched.

Let Life Touch You on the mat for this final practice of the summer. We invite everyone in the community, all ages, and all levels of experience to show up, burn brightly, live passionately and connect to touching your true source.

Our final practice is led by Jena Sawyer with Nancy Levenson, Jenny Clark, Barbara Bloodgood and a few more, as we bid goodbye to summer.

This program has been offered FREE of charge to the community for seven years now by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC.  Join us from 8:15-9:15 at Civic Green Park, located at 9370 Ridgeline Road, Highlands Ranch, CO, located by the main library.NamasteWorks Free Yoga in the Park 2014 Opening Day 112

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art at our private sanctuary located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. If you would like Discover the secret to your wellness, call Nancy Levenson, Professional Yoga Therapist,  for a private consultation.

In What Ways Am I Well?

August 7, 2015

Health or Sickness

What is it you focus on when asked the question “in what ways do you know you are well?” This question was given to me by one of my teachers, Camille Maurine. It amplifies how our mind works – our tendency to focus on the many ways we are not well. Can you sit with yourself in meditation and truly find the many ways that you are well.

And even beyond that – can you investigate what causes your health with the same wholeheartedness that you do when seeking how you might be ill? Maybe instead of going to the Doctor and filling out forms of your prior illnesses, you could shift the paradigm and fill out pages and pages of what makes you well.

Yoga Therapy RX

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is a place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art at our private sanctuary located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. If you would like Discover the secret to your wellness, call Nancy Levenson, Professional Yoga Therapist,  for a private consultation.

NamasteWorks – FREE YOGA IN THE PARK 2015 – Highlands Ranch, CO

May 14, 2015

Awaken to Joy & Bliss

Join us for the 7th Annual Free Yoga in the Park – No experience required– best part, it’s all FREE!  No donations, no requests, no solicitations.  We believe yoga is a sacred practice to feeding our soul.  It’s a time to honor an inward journey without the chaos and interruptions of daily living.

Come nourish yourself Saturday mornings on the mat in the great outdoors. This practice welcomes both beginners and seasoned yogis alike.  Behold the joy that surrounds you as you step outdoors in nature, breath life into yourself, and connect to your own innate bliss; all while in the presence of shared community. This program is offered with the ultimate intention of bringing health and wellness to local residents, creating a happier and more joyful you and community.  Last year, over 3,000 participants were inspired to roll out their mat and join us in the weekly community event.NamasteWorks Free Yoga


Beginning Saturday, May 23 through August 8,  residents age 18 and over can participate in an hour long practice each Saturday morning from 8:15-9:15, with only a few minor date exceptions.  NO sessions will be held June 13 or July 18.  Sessions are held at Civic Green Park, located at 9730 Ridgeline Road, Highlands Ranch, CO, adjacent to the Highlands Ranch Public Library.


Yoga sessions are guided by NamasteWorks volunteer certified instructors; Nancy Levenson, Jenny Clark, Jena Sawyer, Renee Carrillo, Barbara Bloodgood, and Laurie Knight.

So, mark your calendar and JOIN US ON OPENING DAY – Saturday, May 23 and awaken to Joy & Bliss while enjoying the great outdoors. 

200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training – 2015 Class Forming Now in Colorado
200HR Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training – 2015 Class Forming Now in Colorado

November 7, 2014


Our 2015 Integrative Yoga Therapy Teacher Training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness  has it’s first five spots filled. We welcome the diverse group already forming including a clinical therapist, a registered nurse, a yogini, a respiratory therapist, and a physical therapist. Come claim one of the remaining spaces. Program begins February 2015.

The 200hr Yoga Teacher Training with a Therapeutic Focus is for those who want to offer Yoga as a healing art or deepen their own personal practice.

As approaches to health continue to evolve, Yoga will become an increasingly important part of Wellness programs of the future because of its ability to promote health and healing at physical, emotional, and spiritual levels simultaneously. This unique Therapeutic Teacher Training program offers you the opportunity to become immersed in the tools and techniques to support your current business and  this growing industry.

For full details on our program and to obtain our syllabus visit  2015 Teacher Training.

NamasteWorks Yoga Integrative 200HR Teacher Training

Foot Size Doesn’t Matter – Family Day at FREE Yoga in the Park Wednesday, 7.23.2014

July 22, 2014

Everyone is welcome from babies to adults for our annual Family Day at Free Yoga in the Park.  This event invites everyone regardless of foot size to step on the mat and experience a joyful practice led by Renee Carrillo.

Renee Carrillo NamasteWorks Yoga in the ParkRenee began practicing yoga several years ago as an alternative to fast-paced cardio activities that started to trigger migraines.  Yoga has lessened the frequency of migraines and helped her make it through extremely stressful times as a caregiver.  After experiencing the relaxation and complete peace that yoga brings to ones entire self, Renee was inspired to share the benefits that yoga has to offer with others. She attended the 200 Hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Training at NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness with Nancy Levenson.

Renee is passionate about making yoga an experience that people of all ages and abilities are able to explore.  She hopes that people will look inside themselves and discover the amazing ability that we all have within. Renee’s classes are tailored to use breath as a tool to aid in movement of the body and enjoy the experience that is individual to each person.

IF YOU GO: Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 16. Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat. Program is sponsored by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and the Highlands Ranch Metro District. Visit www.namasteworksyoga.com for more info and full program schedule.

2014 NamasteWorks Free Yoga in the Park – June 25 – Highlands Ranch

June 25, 2014

Meet our returning instructor:  Sue Khodarami

Sue Khodarami - Free Yoga in the Park 2012Sue Khodarahmi has been practicing yoga since 1993, and this is her fifth year to meet us all on the mat for Free Yoga in the Park. In 2009, she returned to the classical style of hatha yoga that first inspired her, and received her teaching certification from the Shambhava School of Yoga. Shambhava Yoga draws from the rich tapestry of yogic teachings to explain how to use the circumstances of our own lives to grow consciously, and features breath-focused hatha yoga to help us relax, open and align with the more subtle flow of energy. Her classes are energetic and fun, with an emphasis on core and upper-body strength and flexibility.

IF YOU GO: Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 16. Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat. Program is sponsored by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and the Highlands Ranch Metro District. Visit www.namasteworksyoga.com for more info and full program schedule.

Summer Solstice 2014 and Sun Salute

June 21, 2014

Wishing you a joy filled Summer Solstice. Today is the beautiful solstice, where we celebrate the longest day of sunlight. The twilight hours—morning and evening—call us to make the journey back to our inner selves. Take the time today to notice the rising and setting sun. Feel the essence of her warmth and rays of light by chanting the beautiful mantra – Gayatri (Guy-ah-tree).

Invite the Gayatri into your Sun Salutation practice today.  This method of honoring the sun was  taught to me by my master teachers Joseph and Lilian Le Page, and taught to my students by me, and their students by them.  Invite the twelve words to flow to the twelve classical steps of the Surya Namaskar.

OM, bhur, bhuvah, swaha, tat, savitur, varenyaum
bhargo, devasya, dimahi, dhyo, yo nah, prachodayat

Translation by Joseph Le Page:

Om, body mind and spirit
That Sun God
That we venerate
May the divine light which we meditate upon
Inspire our vision and energy

NamasteWorks Summer Solstice

Interested in learning more about meditation and mantra as part of your journey to optimal health?  Contact NamasteWorks Yoga and Wellness.

NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness is The Place to Discover Yoga as a Healing Art.  We offer specialized private yoga therapy programs, classes, trainings, workshops and retreats – with healing at the focus.  We serve clients suffering with anxiety, depression, stress, structural issues and respiratory and digestive diseases that seek wellness.  We custom tailor each client’s wellness program based on a vision of health as a unity of body, mind and spirit.








NamasteWorks Free Yoga in the Park – June 18, 2014

June 16, 2014

Meet the Instructor – Jenny Clark
Jenny Clark 011 (2)A

This is Jenny’s sixth year at Free Yoga in the Park. In her early twenties she became deeply rooted in the practice of Yoga. After 18 years of practice, Jenny decided she wanted to share with others the beautiful gift of yoga. She completed her 200 hour yoga training in Castle Rock, Colorado and has been teaching for many years now. Jenny decided she wanted to deepen her knowledge of Yoga’s ability to heal the body and received certification in the 200 hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Training at NamasteWorks Yoga. Never one to stop learning she is currently enrolled in the 500 hour Integrative Yoga Therapy Training Program and simultaneously pursing her 1,000 hour certification.

Jenny’s yoga is very unique to her personal style and experiences. She is passionate in her desire to inspire others to see their own magnificence and internal abilities to heal. She designs her yoga classes to create a positive message of healing in every class. Don’t miss her this week as she leads the Wednesday, June 18 session.

IF YOU GO: Yoga in the Park takes place in Civic Green Park, 9370 Ridgeline Blvd. in Highlands Ranch, from 8:15-9:15 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 16. Arrive 15 minutes early to sign a park waiver and settle onto your mat. Program is sponsore
d by NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and the Highlands Ranch Metro District. Visit www.namasteworksyoga.com for more info and full program schedule.