Meet the Radika Foundation: Yoga for trauma

February 14, 2019

Today YogaYe, we are very proud to present the Radika Foundation and its president María Macaya. María Macaya has been practicing yoga for twenty years, she is an advanced 800-hour Jivamukti teacher, and the founder and president of Radika Foundation. She was born in Madrid in 1974 and lived there until she was ten years old. For the next 30 years she lived in Switzerland, the United States, Mexico, England and France. She has a degree in Art History and International Relations from Tufts University (Boston), and a master's degree in Art Criticism from Columbia University (New York). She has lived in Barcelona for four years with her husband and three children, where she teaches at the Jivamukti school and runs the Radika Foundation.

¿Why Radika Foundation?

It all started 4 years ago when I was teaching yoga at the headquarters of a sensational organization that is Projecte Home Balears, in Palma de Mallorca. It was 10 days giving classes to 250 users, ex-drug addicts, and I realized that I had to change some guidelines for the classes to be really useful. It was an incredible experience that immediately produced positive changes in users. At that moment I decided that I wanted to delve into yoga as a complementary therapy to offer this type of guidelines to more people.

¿What do you mean by different guidelines to make it really useful?

Yoga helps a lot, among other things it has made me more leisurely, more aware of myself and my surroundings. For people with traumatic disorders however, not all classes are going to have positive effects, it needs to be “informed yoga” which is what we call yoga that serves as complementary therapy. A teacher trained in this, knows the disorders, their effects and their symptoms, and with that knowledge determines guidelines to offer a safe space where people can process emotions, thoughts and symptoms, can reestablish a connection with their body and with their intuition. , and you can regain control of your decisions. Informed Yoga is designed to make conventional therapy more effective.

¿How did you train to éthis?

I was educated in the United States and in England. In Boston I studied with the Justice Resource Institute, which is where informed yoga started, with the likes of Bessel van der Kolk and David Emerson. There they work with war veterans, abused women, abused children – and since the eighties they have offered yoga to complement therapies and have been conducting studies to analyze what was the best way to deliver these sessions. Lisa Danylchuk has also been very important in my training – she is an Oakland-based psychologist and yoga teacher. In England I studied with Lisa Kaley-Isley, who specialized in depression, anxiety and addictions.

You talk a lot about trauma – what do you mean by trauma?

Trauma in Greek means wound. The wound that comes from a traumatic event, or a cluster of them: an accident, the loss of a loved one, being attacked, can even be something we see or hear. These traumatic events become trauma when they negatively affect our way of coping with life: we avoid situations, memories invade us that cause discomfort, even our nervous system or our cognition are affected. Almost all of us will suffer at least one traumatic event in our life, and for 20% it will become a trauma.

¿If you had to summarize how this informed yoga works, how would you do it?

There are three essential elements. The first is to understand that in many cases our cognition has been affected. It is proven that if there is trauma, at the time of the traumatic event, the parts of the brain that deal with speech and memory are blocked – which is why we often hear people after an accident say that they do not remember what happened. But nevertheless, as B. Van der Kolk shows in the book “The body keeps score”, our body does remember, and through movement we can reactivate, and thus mentally remember and process. The second is that often in addictions, traumas, or serious illnesses, the connection with the body is lost: it is a part of us that did not protect us when it had to, or that brings back memories that we prefer to forget. Recovery is often impossible if we don't reconnect. And thirdly, informed means that we use techniques so that when that reconnection occurs and the memory emerges, it happens safely, and allows the person to regain self-confidence, the intuition of what is going well for them, so that you can accept and process it with your therapist.

¿How do you make these techniques reach the people who need them?

We offer sessions in institutions that work with affected people, and also in wellness centers, and in private sessions.

Y ésto ¿who offers it?

Well, until recently I was essentially on my own, but in November I trained 30 people in an intensive 20-hour Yoga for Trauma course and some have already started working with us. We have two more intensives planned, one in Barcelona in April and the next in November in Madrid. Yoga teachers who perform these or similar trainings can apply to work with us.

Y ¿How is Radika financed?

We are a non-profit entity and we charge for our sessions. Everything we enter goes to the teachers who teach the sessions or to improve our work. We have fixed prices, but we understand that some public or non-profit institutions cannot pay full price. The idea is not to reject anyone who needs our service. Trainings are also a source of income, as are the donations we receive (and accept!).

¿Radika's next steps?

Train and hire more teachers, offer our online training, and offer training for non-specialized centers. In our "normal" yoga classes, for example the ones I offer at Jivamukti Barcelona, ​​very often we get people who have suffered or are suffering from some disorder or restlessness. Our next course will be to prepare teachers to recognize and react to a student suffering from a disorder or a crisis. If you are interested in the initiative and if you want to support it by subsidizing Radika sessions, you can make a donation through this page. And instead of throwing away your yoga mat, don't hesitate to give yours, because the Radika Foundation always needs mats for its yoga classes. Congratulations on this great initiative. By YogaYe, We wish you all the best. Thank you very much Maria!

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