I first met April in a yoga class, but I didn’t really get to know her until she said the magic word, “wine”. So, one day after class we wandered over to Rose Bud and that’s when I met the real April, the one whose real work is in life, who struggles day to day, who is as much a seeker as she is full of answers.
April now lives in Atlanta with her family, but her passion for healing transformation has not wavered. April has been working with and learning from a group called YogaHOPE and TIMBo. TIMBo stands for Trauma Informed Mind Body. Their focus is to enable and empower women to self regulate emotions.
YogaHOPE does work all over the world including Haiti and Africa and soon will be going to Nepal. April just returned from Africa where they worked with the RONA Foundation (ronafoundation.co.ke) who helps widows, HIV positive women, rape victims and gender cleansing survivors.
“It changed my life,” April admitted.
April has been working and training with YogaHOPE since 2012 where she studies the TIMBo modules. Her resolve to service, however, began in 2009 when her sister died from an accidental overdose. Her path led her to joining a teacher training in 2011 and founding Out of the Darkness in 2012. Her grieving was so tremendous, she said, she found comfort working in extreme situations where she “wanted to save everyone around (her) and everyone became (her) sister”.
“I didn’t know how I was going to live through this,” she said. “I was grieving so hard.”
She put together a program proposal and went to Dr. Carol Horton who was already teaching yoga for recovery. April began to teach girls and women coming out of addiction at Chicago prisons in Cook County, those in halfway houses and those leaving the prison system. Sometimes the girls and women would be in hiding because of abuse situations.
“Addiction is a byproduct of trauma. We learn and teach how to take a moment to notice when something comes up. To notice the body sensations, the tightness in your throat, the physical reaction of the emotions,” explains April. “We use breath to work through the emotions and body sensations. Once you start to peel it apart, you find that there are so many layers and so many emotions. It’s difficult. This program empowers women to get control of that and begin to heal themselves. It teaches us to love ourselves and live in our body and not exist in this half living state.”
April has also worked with private psychiatrists and addiction counselors. She saw how this breath work impacted the students and how the healing began. She wanted to know more about why and how yoga could heal trauma. She found there is an emotional anatomy to trauma and claims her breath awareness saved her very own life.
A part of her own healing has been recognizing her own self preservation. Recently she read a book by a paraplegic man, Matthew W. Sanford (Waking, a memoir of trauma and transcendence), whose message is to remember that even though we want to go out and save everybody, we have to remember to ‘protect our own container’.
“That’s what he calls our bodies, our container. And this personal journey is every day. We fight our demons every day to move toward the state of being happy. We have to discern what is real and what is not,” she says. “I believe people go to yoga because they know there is something else there, something deeper. And I believe women need women. Every day is a new day for me to notice my adaptations, to deconstruct and reconstruct myself until I find contentment and a full life, a life fully lived. I used to think I could go out there and help everyone, but the person I would forget about is myself and I’d find myself depleted. It was the same cycle.”
TIMBo, which also has an online program, is now in the process of organizing group settings. When April completes her modules with YogaHOPE and TIMBo, she would like to start a program for women in Atlanta.
“I want to be able to bring people back into their bodies so they can see who they truly are and separate that from their story. I want to help people say, ‘This isn’t in alignment with who I am anymore. I’m done. This pattern just isn’t working for me.’”