BECOME THE BEST VERSION OF YOU!
“Back in the 1990’s, it became apparent that childhood traumatic stress elicited not only a psychological response but a physiological one. I couldn’t think or even talk my way out of my trauma stories. I needed a trusting, secure and social connection with just one person. This person was the embodiment of compassion and educated me about my breath and my body’s systems. From there I found the practice of using the tools of yoga that gave me a choice as to whether I continue to react from my past stories or I learned - one day at a time - to respond in the present moment with wholeness.”
From Victim to Survivor to Thriver
"I specialize in working with people who are suffering from Developmental Trauma, C-PTSD, all addictions including eating disorders. I have also helped people with secondary stress, compassionate fatigue, anxiety and depression. During 2020 - 2021, I completed over 100 hours of training modules called Transforming the Experienced Based Brain ( TEB) (through intentional touch).
These trainings were developed by Stephen Terrell, Author of Nurturing Resilience: Helping Clients move forward from Developmental Trauma. I learned somatic skills/tools to support people who have experienced trauma in utero/birth trauma to age 5. Along with the tools of yoga. I hope to help you create a way to live with your trauma "teachers."
By practicing together, we can make it possible for calmness to be accessible anytime, anywhere, in a chair or even using a wall. We limit ourselves to think yoga is just a physical practice on the mat. It is a life style of the highest self care! Let's learn behaviors and practices that can help you learn to be more resilient, improve your self-esteem, and guide you on a more positive path!"
Heather honors and is grateful for all the teachers who have brought her the wisdom of yoga through the ages. She is a pioneer in the new field of Yoga and Trauma Recovery. This new field utilizes Trauma Informed Yoga and Meditation to help people start to move beyond complex PTSD, Developmental Trauma Disorder, Addiction, Anxiety, and Depression and start to build fulfilling lives. Heather has worked extensively with psychotherapists and health practitioners to assist clients in reaching their wellness goals. She has a private practice called Resilient Yoga for You, LLC in Reston Virginia.She is also the Director of Beloved Yoga’s Trauma and Recovery Programs at Beloved Yoga in Reston.
Heather has a Masters in Psychotherapy from Marymount University and is a certified IAYT Yoga Therapist. She has earned the e500RYT designation from the Yoga Alliance and is a lead teacher in Beloved Yoga's 300RYT/800hr teacher training program. Heather also holds a Certification in Trauma Sensitive Yoga from David Emerson and Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk (Kripalu). Heather, along with Maryam Ovissi of Beloved Yoga have a successful 30 hour IAYT approved Trauma Informed Training Program for Yoga Teachers, Mental Health workers etc. Heather has trainings with Embodied Recovery Institute for Eating Disorders, Internal Family Systems training with Amy Weintrab and Dr. Angela Hubner, and is a Brain Longevity Specialist from the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation.
Before you enter into the safe space Heather creates, you will first be asked to complete the confidential private health form. You will find this form in a PDF format on this page. Heather will use this information to customize your initial evaluation. If you have been referred by a therapist Heather will consult with them to tailor this session just for you.
"I work with you by first educating you about your biology and how our stress/traumas effect our brains and nervous systems - I help you to understand how yoga can help keep you in a parasympathetic state. All healing occurs in the parasympathetic state of rest, digest and rejuvenation." says Heather.
After this initial session Heather will provide you with three take aways that will begin your new relationship with wellness and cultivate a curiosity about your body.
After your introductory session, Heather will develop a personal, unique 60 minute practice just for you. In yoga, it is through the breath that we connect the mind and body in a significant way.
You will learn how to utilize the tools of Yoga to create balance with your imbalances, i.e., we like to call them "Teachers". This is not a curative yoga practice but through the tools of movement (asana), breath work (pranayama), mental clarity (concentration/meditation practices) and nourishment (lifestyle habits), Heather will meet you where you are and inspire you to build a healthy balanced relationship with yourself and your imbalances.
New Client Form
Let Heather create a multisession program tailored just for you. This special one on one training is centered around you and your goals.
"When we have stress/trauma, we live in our survival mode (so we celebrate that our body is trying to protect us and it is not the enemy!) . Living in the sympathetic part of our nervous system can wreck havoc on your mind, your breath and body. Learning how to dial down the sympathetic through breath and gentle movements is the way I begin. I give you tools that you can access throughout your day and do not need a yoga mat. These tools are for your body, your breath and your mind. We build you a calming toolkit with yogic tools as we move through sessions. You do not have to have any yoga experience."
Your wisdom, and the books and practices you recommend, have helped me enormously. (And, even "enormous" sounds like an understatement. Calming my nervous system, and beginning to hear my own guidance, has completely transformed my human experience.)
I still struggle -- with clarity, with being triggered and not seeing the cause -- but, the tools you taught me (from breathing practices, to self-care massages, to affirmations and guided imagery, to being gentle, to trusting the wise woman) have brought a healing. A slowly growing lightness, and strength, and even a bit of hope/desire to explore and create. It's a healing I was unable to access with doctors and the medical system.
Therapeutic Yoga Client with PTSD
Heather has helped me tremendously in managing my stress and finding peace in different ways that are easy to do. Her perspective about the importance of yoga, the theories behind it, the impact it can have, and the easy ways to make it work were all parts of my very successful program with her. I was surprised that small things could change my life, like a very valuable breathing pattern to fall quickly asleep and a focus on movement of my toes to release stress!
Sharon, Therapeutic Yoga Client
I feel asleep early and slept the whole night through!! When I woke up I wasn't quite as stiff and in pain as I usually am and did some of the stretches you taught me yesterday before I even got out of bed and that made my morning routine so much easier!! I walked around like a normal person instead of like Frankenstein waiting for my shoulders to relax enough to put my arms down!!! Thank you!
Therapeutic Yoga Client
Workshops and Trainings Available
in Washington Metropolitan Area
Integrating Yoga into Addictions Recovery
Heather's Mission Statement
Heather is currently seeing clients in all aspects of the addiction journey. Recovering from addictions requires healing of the mind, the body and the spirit. Studies are revealing that dis-regulated trauma in the body propels people to abuse alcohol, drugs, and process addictions as medicine to feel balanced. People are not aware of what is happening in their nervous systems and brain structures and are instead using addiction as a way to dial down their over reactive sympathetic nervous systems.
I have been working with people in recovery these past 15 years and one thing I see over and over is that the "unhealthy habits" began in teen years usually around the age of 15 as a way to cope with stress. The other thing I see is the sooner trauma informed yoga tools are introduced into recovery the chances of relapse lesson!
My intention is to help people understand how yoga and somatic therapy compliments the process of abstaining from an addiction by connecting one's self back to the body. Yoga can help us release the issues that live in our tissues. Once this starts to occur a person can begin to self regulate and find relief. This can be achieved by going inside themselves instead of reaching to the outside world for an instant fix.
Quoting Heather, “So often people with addictions have been severely traumatized and need a softer, more choice oriented way of working with abstaining from an addiction. By creating a safe space, I help people to explore new ways of self care with the hope of reaching for healthy tool rather than a maladaptive one that continues to keep the frequency of addiction alive.
Heather's Artwork; "Recovery Mandala" Acrylic on Canvas
I was extremely fortunate to find Heather and her approach to yoga during the toughest time of my life, my first 90 days of addiction recovery. During this incredibly difficult time yoga therapy added depth and balance to my spirituality and helped keep me present while I began to cope with this emotional transition. Through her guidance I've been able to understand myself more deeply than I believed was possible and gained a daily practice which I can't live without. Heather is uniquely suited for this role as a teacher and guide for those of us who wish to explore and understand ourselves
Anonymous Addictions Client
Wow Heather that was incredible today. I feel so blessed to have been gifted with the opportunity to work with and to learn from you. I can't think of a better yogi leader guru teacher and guide! I am utterly grateful beyond words and with every breath!
Anonymous Addictions Client
Experience Working with Adolescents
The last few years Heather has taught "stress busting" yoga classes to Northern Virginia High School Students in conjunction with their annual week of wellness education.
I learned that sometimes you just have to take a step back and take a second to breathe so you can get away from the stress.
High School Student
I learned to be more self aware about my body, especially while sitting and doing homework for a while. I focus on moving every so often and doing yoga when I need to take a break from something particularly hard.
High School Student
As a person who is very busy, from travel, to school, to athletics, I learned new techniques for reducing my stress and re-centering myself in order to relax. I also have learned that awareness of my breath is a particularly potent way, for me in particular, to relax and clear my mind.
High School Student
Maryam Ovissi, Gina Kane and myself presented two sessions on January 28, 2023 at the One LCPS: United for Wellness Mental Health & Wellness conference in Aldie Virginia ! The Ultimate Teen Toolkit (www.ultimate teen toolkit.org) is a non profit website platform for teens (and adults) to access in times of need..a yogic toolkit to calm and balance one’s nervous system. We currently have ten UTTK tools - 2-3 min videos online - check it out !
Yoga for Trauma Survivors: On January 20th, 2023, I had the great honor teaching a three hour trauma informed yoga therapy training for 30+ MSW students and faculty at George Mason University!
Deb Dana LCSW, author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy says it well, “we need to focus on our own capacity for self regulation with traumatized clients…when we are fully in our ventral vagal system, we are able to practice compassion for ourselves and for our deregulated suffering person in front of us.”
I am so grateful that this is my work to share the knowledge and practices of yoga therapy with our future social workers and therapists! They now have tools to not only help their clients but themselves as well.
Top-Down/Bottom-Up Approaches to Address Collective Trauma
It was a great honor speaking at the International Association of Yoga Therapists!! I was a part of this workshop on collective trauma, the pandemic and exploring the bottom up and top down approach with reflection on Yoga Sutras 2.33, 2.34. I was on a panel and I spoke about Yoga Therapy and Addictions.
Maryam Ovissi C-IAYT writes: Thank you @yoginihh bringing the wisdom of addictions thank you @marshawn_actyoga sharing the necessity of belonging and courage to support the communities in need thank you @toneyyukikai for expanding our Lens in the trigger of war in present to past and the pillars of resiliency thank you @mzdejur for shining an important light in on diversion programs, Sex Workers and the considerations of sharing yoga therapy with them and thank you @sandalwoodyogatherapy Priya for sharing how vital it is to address the unique trauma to health care workers and a call to action ! Huge gratitude to @iaytorg for organizing this powerful SYTAR 2022 excellent conference 💖
Heather has an important message to share about the Therapeutic capacity of Yoga as a modality for healing. She has spoken at events like...
2017 SNAP (Survivors Network Of Those Abused by Priests) Conference
2017 Addictions Female Inmates Wellness Program at Loudoun County Jail
George Mason University - Guest Speaker MSW Trauma and Recovery Class
Medical Yoga Symposium: Modern Yoga at George Washington University
INOVA Trauma Center: Trauma Survivors Network: Trauma Sensitive Yoga Classes
Yogic Tools for Acute Traumatic Stress Injuries Sustained by Violent Assault
A talk for Global Yoga Therapy Day August 13, 2020 by Heather Hagaman
Trauma Informed Yoga Therapist, Resilient Yoga For You LLC
I have always wanted to use the therapeutic yogic tools for trauma protocol with a client right after a traumatic incident. This client was a victim of an assault/trauma! I had my first session with her within the 13th hour after the incident. I have thought if we, as trauma informed yoga therapists could be there right after the trauma and administer trauma informed yogic self care, we might be able to shift a person away from getting stuck into a lifetime of being in defense mode. We could quite possibly move the person through the post traumatic injuries into resiliency and not into a disorder.
The therapeutic yoga trauma protocol or yogic self care I use with people with trauma essentially is to 1) educate the client about their defense physiology, 2) cultivate compassion and understanding for how hard the body works to protect and 3) learn how to befriend all the layers (Koshas) of the body with the use of yoga philosophy, asana, and pranayama. The successful application of these tools right after the trauma incident have been awe inspiring!
2020 Another Day Virtual Walk to Stop Suicide Event September 6, 2020 sponsored by Mental Health America of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Host: Cathleen Pessolano, Executive Director. Mental Health America of Fredericksburg
Join Heather Hagaman and Maryam Ovissi, both trauma-informed yoga therapists to learn how essential it is to find small and accessible ways to Befriend Yourself during challenging times. With over 40 years of combined experience, we have learned effective tools to navigate difficult times. Join us to be inspired and learn small, easy ways to take care of your whole self.
The Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation presents in honor of Veteran's Day and Alzheimer's Awareness Month an outstanding educational webinar on Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 called Trauma, Yoga and Your Brain Webinar. Guest Speaker Heather Hagaman, MA C-IAYT and Host Kirti Khalsa
We know from research that even as we age, our brain still forms new neurons and that through neuroplasticity our brains can be rewired.
Current studies looking at how healthy habits strengthen your brain health have shown that yoga decreases the stress response within the brain and boosts brain power. In the trauma context, that is called self-regulation.
In this 1.5 hour webinar, we will discuss how trauma manifests in the body, trauma-derived habits, and how to approach clients using specific trauma-yoga approaches. We will also experience simple and effective techniques that you can then apply to your practice and allow plenty of time for Q&A.
Whether this information is for yourself or for your students and clients, this webinar will result in better management of reactive emotions, thinking more clearly and developing greater focus.
Sit back, relax and press play...
Guided Meditation Sample
I'm doing much better. It's been more than three months, and I feel like I've come to accept that what happened has changed me, in some ways scarred me, but mostly for the better.
Your relaxation techniques and helpful perspective on trauma combined with weekly psychotherapy -- where I've been able to get in touch with some of the emotions that the shooting gave rise to and shook me up -- I now have tools to handle recovery from this and future storms. And, mostly importantly, I'm gaining a sense of peace and equilibrium where I just generally know that all is okay.
I'm not 100% better, but I'm to the point where I'm moving forward rather than letting it wear me down - if that makes sense.
Washington Post reporter and witness of shooting violence Alexandria 2017