Yoga therapist and psychologist Gail Parker, PhD, applies restorative practices in an innovative way to help people heal from racial wounds.
Yoga Journal: Can you summarize your work?
Gail Parker: I’m a psychologist, a certified yoga therapist, and a yoga therapist educator. I am a lifelong practitioner of yoga. 50 years. As a practicing psychotherapist of 40 years, I pioneered efforts to blend psychology, yoga, and meditation as effective self-care strategies that can enhance emotional balance, and contribute to overall health and well-being.
I closed my psychotherapy practice four years ago, which allowed me to focus all of my attention on the therapeutic benefits of yoga, and in particular on how Restorative Yoga and meditation can be utilized and taught as self-care practices for managing ethnic and race based stress and trauma. I also teach mind-body strategies for reducing stress and healing emotional trauma to aspiring yoga therapists in the Beaumont School of Yoga Therapy in Royal Oak Michigan, the only hospital based yoga therapy school in the nation.
Yoga therapy is a type of therapy—grounded in the ancient philosophical teachings of yoga—that utilizes yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation as self-care strategies to improve mental and physical health and well-being.
YJ: How do you apply this work to racial trauma (and can you define that term)?
GP: Ethnic and racial stress and trauma refer to the events related to real or perceived experiences of discrimination, threats of harm and injury, and humiliating and shaming events. The terms also apply to witnessing harm to other individuals caused by real or perceived race-related events.
Stress and trauma are stored in the body. Effective interventions involve physical engagement. Restorative Yoga is a form of yoga that is not intrusive; …