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Photo of Alex, founder of Embodied Empowerment

Hi,

 

I'm Alex. I was born in Toronto, Canada and moved to the UK in my early 20s for graduate school. I now live in Norwich with my husband and our sweet snuggly dog, Nora. 

My professional journey has been deeply intertwined with my personal story. My experiences have meant navigating the intersection of what it means to be a brown woman, as well as an adoptee. For many years, I felt disconnected from my body and my emotions, and struggled with feeling voiceless. I found it difficult to set boundaries with the people around me - after all, how could I set boundaries if I was disconnected from how I felt? How could I stick up for my needs when I didn't know what they were? 

 

My studies - an undergraduate degree in psychology (2013), followed by a Masters of Science in Mental Health and Psychological Therapies (2014) - often felt like a path of self-exploration. I dove into the world of western talking therapies because I wanted to understand myself and help others. However, after working in the field of mental health for 10 years, I was left feeling that a holistic attitude toward wellness was missing from many mental health services. 

In 2015, I became a certified yoga instructor and experienced the benefits of practicing being in my body within community. I worked for several years as a corporate trainer, providing mindfulness workshops through employee assistance programmes. I then trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a mindfulness focused form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that includes connecting to the physical and bodily aspects of emotional distress. 

 

During this time, I read "The Body Keeps the Score" by psychiatrist Bessel Van Der Kolk: a groundbreaking book which outlined the science behind distress and trauma, and how they are stored primarily in the body (you can find this book and other similar books on my Resource page). This research helped me to understand that sometimes, human bodies can remember things that our conscious minds do not, and a showed a gap in the field of talking therapies. Through this work, I started to connect my own experiences of adversity and invisibility with my felt sense of disconnect from my body, and therefore, from myself. 

In London, I started to teach yoga in women's refuges which helped me to understand the nature of trauma stemming from domestic and sexual violence, and gave me a deeper understanding of systemic oppression and its close-knit relationship to trauma. Around this time, The British Psychological Society also published "The Power Threat and Meaning" framework - a model that locates distress, fear and despair within the wider social contexts that they arise within. 

 

My training programme in Trauma Center, Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TC TSY), a somatic practice that is grounded in clinical frameworks, brought all of the above together in a way that felt congruent for me. 

 

For me, trauma informed, anti-oppressive, choice-based somatic practices have provided a sense of grounding in my body that was an important addition to talking therapy. I have found that our bodies can be both the site of trauma and a powerful place for healing. I continue on the journey of healing and self discovery, as I feel that it is a lifelong practice. 

 

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