Come to Your Mat helps survivors regain strength

Namaste, Mavericks.

Minnesota State’s Women’s Center has been hosting an eight-part yoga series called Come to Your Mat Wednesdays at 3 p.m. It is organized by the new director of the Violence Response Awareness Program (VARP) Rachel Maccabee and graduate assistant Coumba Soumare.

The purpose of these sessions is to help survivors gain strength, support, and tools for continued healing. 

Soumare claims peaceful methods such as yoga can help survivors connect with their bodies again and help them find trust again. 

“After traumatic events happen to you, especially things like sexual violence, a lot of victims may feel almost disconnected with their bodies. So yoga basically offers them a way to get connected with their bodies again and trust their bodies again.” Soumare said. “Meditative sessions like yoga have been proven to be a really good coping method for victims of any trauma really. Yoga is very beneficial in that sense.” 

Not only is yoga beneficial for survivors but other methods such as art can be offered as mechanisms and ways to recover peace and strength again. As this is Soumare’s first year at MSU and being a part of VARP, she hopes to see new opportunities to help survivors heal.

“We went for yoga because it’s proven to be kind of successful, but anything really could be an effective way to cope through trauma. We thought of something like art; something creative that could stimulate healing as well. Meditation or practicing mindfulness; also being with people who support you,” Soumare said. “You don’t have to have the similarity of trauma but you can also try to find a good support system; also finding a group maybe that does have that similarity with you.”

The yoga sessions have been practiced by previous staff and employees and with VARP partaking in organizing these events, Soumare said she hopes these sessions attract attention and encourage other students to help spread awareness and prevent sexual violence. 

“We basically we just picked it up again, we just started with meetings, but it’s basically a group that students want to educate their peers about sexual violence, consent, and bystander intervention.” Soumare said. “So it’s also a really good group if you want to be an advocate as well for that, so I think there’s a lot of different ways they could get involved and help. Again, we’re also open to doing any other kinds of activities that students also suggest that they would find helpful.”

To find out more about VARP and their support services, visit msnu.edu/VARP or stop by the Women’s Center at CSU 218 for more information.

Write to Anahi Zuniga at anahi.zuniga@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Come to Your Mat is an 8-part yoga series to help survivors of violence gain strength, support, and tools for continued healing. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)

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