Trauma-informed yoga takes root in Denver
JaLisa Williams’ Soulflower Experiences grows holistic and safe spaces for people of color to heal their bodies and their minds.
JaLisa Williams is breaking down the barriers between Black bodies and holistic spaces.
Those impediments include everything from cost to music selection to the fact that instructors often don’t look like them or share their experiences, she said. But the biggest obstacle to holistic spaces she sees is the trauma in Black bodies.
“We need to learn how to breathe because we have not been offered that in the past,” she said.
Williams is the licensed clinical social worker, therapist, college professor, yogi and self-described “badass” behind Soulflower Experiences, which offers trauma-informed yoga, meditation and wellness workshops for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Classes and workshops take place at venues and events throughout Colorado, including Urban Sanctuary, an inclusive wellness studio in Five Points where Williams has taught yoga since 2016.
Soulflower Experiences is the realization of Williams’ 2016 dissertation for her Master of Social Work at Metropolitan State University of Denver, which examined Black people’s access to holistic spaces. She is a lecturer in the University’s Department of Social Work and helped develop the curriculum for the class “Power, Privilege and Oppression.”
As one of the few Black therapists in Denver, Williams is keenly aware of how the identity work she does with BIPOC and the LGBTQ community benefits from holistic practices such as yoga and mindfulness.
“They come for the spiritual stuff and then think, ‘You know, it’s like we’re doing therapy now. Look at that.’”