Carlee Freeman signed on as a counsellor at Deltassist with one condition: that she be able to bring yoga into the organization’s Alternatives to Violence program. This fall, that’s becoming a reality.
“Talk therapy is not always best suited for people, especially people who have lived through traumatic experiences or lots of historical abuse,” Freeman said. “This is something we can offer to help them connect inwards and connect with their body, but also learn skills that they can take out of the counselling space and into their own lives.”
Freeman, who is both a counsellor and a yoga instructor, began by bringing yoga and meditation into her one-on-one sessions with clients. But now, she’s starting to be able to run larger yoga sessions within the Alternatives to Violence program.
A yoga- and mindfulness-based stress reduction group started in late September, and Deltassist also has a drop-in group that alternates between North and South Delta. So far, both groups have been a success — “just the energy in the room … was awesome,” Freeman said about the stress reduction group — but there are some challenges.
The rooms Freeman can use for yoga at Deltassist are small: the larger one can hold a maximum of four people, and the smaller one is for one-on-one sessions only. The rooms are not dedicated to yoga — other people can book the space — but Freeman has been able to create a nice atmosphere in them using salt lamps and table-top water features.
“Just with the little bit that we’ve done, we created a really nice environment,” she said. “It’s just super limited.”
The other challenge is funding. And that’s why on Oct. 18, Deltassist will be holding a yoga fundraiser at its North Delta location (9097 Scott Rd.).
The fundraiser will start at 6:30 p.m., with registration for up to 40 participants and an opportunity to buy raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items. At 7 p.m., attendees will find a space on the floor and start Freeman’s 75-minute yoga session. It will be a “gentle hatha” that’s accessible for most abilities, Freeman said, although she hesitated to call it restorative yoga.
“We don’t have the supplies necessary to do a full-on, 40-person restorative yoga because we don’t have the blocks,” Zoë Sehn, manager of counselling services, explained. “That’s one of the reasons why we need to do our fundraisers, so we can actually have the supplies to be able to do this with our clients.”
Currently, Deltassist has nine yoga mats and about the same number of foam blocks. But that’s not enough to do yoga properly and safely, Freeman said.
“We were using couch throw pillows to add extra comfort, but that’s not exactly suitable. But it was helpful,” she said. “We would love to have the equipment reserved for the space and for the purpose, and not be running around to our meeting rooms and grabbing cushions off the couches.”
People hoping to use blocks and yoga mats at the Deltassist fundraiser are encouraged to bring their own. Those interested in attending can contact Sehn at email@example.com in advance of Oct. 18.