Serenity and Nature on Salt Spring Island

Using trauma-informed yoga to improve mental health among health professionals

Farah Nazarali, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader, has created a unique and innovative retreat for health professionals burned out, stressed out, or experiencing mental health crises as a result of the increased stresses that the pandemic placed on the health care system.

Farah Nazarali, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader, has created a unique and innovative retreat for health professionals burned out, stressed out, or experiencing mental health crises as a result of the increased stresses that the pandemic placed on the health care system.

The pandemic swept our country and the globe. In its wake, it left a tremendous impact on mental health. Frontline workers know those effects all too well.

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated 7 in 10 health workers reported worsening mental health during the pandemic. Increased risk of infection, high workloads, PPE supply shortages all contributed to poor mental health.

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry says that 44 per cent of Canada’s frontline workers experience mental health issues even without the pandemic. This situation manifests in major depressive disorders, high levels of burnout, and one or more mental health symptoms. These are staggering numbers, yet 47 per cent of frontline workers think seeking help would negatively impact their work and co-workers’ perception. As a society, there is a health emergency on the horizon.

“Stress and trauma are acutely felt by frontline workers and public safety personnel who are routinely exposed to traumatic events. And they work in a culture that doesn’t acknowledge the impact of trauma on mental health,” says Farah Nazarali, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader.

Farah has created a unique and innovative retreat for health professionals burned out, stressed out, or experiencing mental health crises as a result of the increased stresses that the pandemic placed on the health care system.

“This retreat introduces gentle, trauma-informed yoga and breathing techniques to restore mind/body connection and to cultivate body-based resources,” Farah says. These techniques support the long-term resilience and emotional regulation of police officers, paramedics, dispatchers, healthcare workers, and corrections staff.

‘Understanding how trauma affects mental health makes it possible to shift a workplace culture that stigmatizes having an emotional response to a traumatic event and helps normalize the experiences of those who serve in the health sector,’ says Farah Nazarali.

‘Understanding how trauma affects mental health makes it possible to shift a workplace culture that stigmatizes having an emotional response to a traumatic event and helps normalize the experiences of those who serve in the health sector,’ says Farah Nazarali.

Trauma-informed yoga is based on an understanding of trauma. It emphasizes its impact on the entire mind-body system. Often, trauma impacts the mind, brain and body. Trauma-informed yoga works on all three. It offers practical techniques that can be utilized to enhance well-being on and off the job. Trauma-informed yoga draws from neuroscience, developmental psychology and interpersonal neurobiology.

Set in the serene beauty of Salt Spring Island, participants will have the space to decompress and reflect in a natural setting.

“Understanding how trauma affects mental health makes it possible to shift a workplace culture that stigmatizes having an emotional response to a traumatic event and helps normalize the experiences of those who serve in the health sector. That’s part of our big vision aspiration,” says Farah, “to contribute to a shift in culture that honours the work of health care professionals, validates their experiences, and gives them the tools for mental resiliency.”

To learn more and to register, visit farahnazarali.com/restorative-retreat.

Health and wellness