Dr. Nicole Anders, Phd ~ The Psychology of Trauma

Dr. Nicole Anders, Phd, is one third of the Trauma Recovery Yoga (TRY) Teacher Training team.  She and TRY co-founders Joyce and Darwin Bosen teach a 20 hour workshop in Las Vegas once a month at the Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op; additional workshops are held in locations around the U.S.  

Trauma Recovery Yoga is a method created by Joyce Bosen after the tragic death of her 22 year old son.  She had been an avid yogi for years before his death; when she tried to return to her practice, she found herself triggered by a number of aspects of traditional yoga.  Per the TRY website, “the method is comprised of techniques that with regular practice will help those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, shallow breath, social anxiety, hypervigilance, involuntary thoughts, flashbacks and other effects of trauma being held in the body.  These techniques are delivered in a yoga flow that helps to rebalance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system bringing about an overall feeling of well being.”  Joyce had experienced all these effects of trauma.  Her son was in the military at the time of his death so she was designated with the honor of “Gold Star Mom” and was able to access therapy methods through the VA. Once she started doing the TRY method at home, her VA therapists noticed the improvement in her and inquired what else she was doing.  When she shared TRY with them they asked her to teach it at the VA.

Nicole Anders is a bilingual (Spanish and English) licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma, PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and has extensive experience working with veterans.  She obtained her 200 YTT in Bali, Indonesia and teaches Ashtanga-based vinyasa flow and yin yoga.  Nicole’s philosophy is holistic and she subscribes to the mind-body connection.  She is supportive of the use of multiple therapy modes such as talk therapy with trauma-sensitive yoga and bodywork.  As with many of us who are involved with TRY, Nicole has experienced personal traumatic loss, and yoga has consistently been a source for healing and growth.  

Nicole’s younger brother Cody died a little over a year ago.  The siblings were very close and his death has devastated her.  She is utilizing various therapies on this journey through traumatic grief, including and especially yoga.  She started an Instagram page dedicated to her brother; it is at once a personal healing project as well as a means by which to share her path to peace. @codysbigsister is “100 Goodbyes” to the young man who meant so much to Nicole.  It is a public project; those who are healing or helping others to heal will find this page inspiring and thoughtful.  Her first post says everything about who she and Cody were to each other and how her world has changed.  “It’s been an incredibly difficult year. I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Every single day, I think about Cody; some days he’s all I think about. The grief is tight, like a clenched fist gripping my heart, making it hard to breathe. Hard to exhale, harder to inhale. It feels cold and dark, a nightmare I’ve been screaming to wake up from. I decided to start a project dedicated to my brother. I’m still trying to navigate through the shatter, picking up pieces one by one. This is my journey.”

“Thank you to everyone who has been following my writing project on Instagram about Cody Anders 💚It has been very meaningful to share my process of grief so openly and to receive so many messages of connection, empathy, love, and understanding. Grief is an unavoidable human experience, we are not alone. “

Nicole’s portion of the Trauma Recovery Yoga teacher training is three hours long and covers the psychology of trauma.  She speaks extensively on what is trauma, its effects on the brain and body, healing trauma with yoga, and interpersonal neurobiology, which explains the science of why yoga and therapy work.  

The psychology of trauma is an intensely broad subject.  Three hours of the teacher training workshop is dedicated to this very important piece of trauma recovery; Nicole does an incredible job of disseminating critical information.  Her style is such that highly technical data is shared in an easily digestible manner.  She often uses metaphors in the explanation of a concept.  I first took the teacher training in February 2019 and 6 months later still vividly recall the definition of hippocampus by picturing the “British hippo is the secretary of your brain” which Nicole incorporates in her talk for illustration.  

Nicole draws on important figures in trauma research and interpersonal neurobiology to support the science of trauma recovery.  She speaks highly of Gabor Mate, M.D., author of the book “When the Body Says No”, which provides insight into how disease can be the body’s way of saying no to what the mind cannot or will not acknowledge – and how we can heal.  The preface states in part, “…this book shows that people do not become ill despite their lives but because of their lives… Much disease could be prevented and healed if we fully understood the scientific evidence verifying the mind-body unity.”  Dr. Mate’s book includes clinical experience, interviews, and research studies.

As a trauma survivor myself (spousal suicide), I was fascinated by so much of what I learned in the TRY teacher training.  I formally enrolled in the full teacher training workshop in February of this year, but I sat in on an additional session of Nicole’s portion last month because it contains so much information.  I found myself constantly having “ah ha” moments as I learned the how and why of the psychology of trauma, understanding better my own actions and reactions to life incidents over the past 4 post-trauma years.  A significant element of Trauma Recovery Yoga is self-affirmations in the form of “I am”, said to oneself either silently or aloud.  The repetition of our “I ams” is a corrective emotional experience in which we change our brains by creating a new neuropathway in the brain.  The brain can actually look physically different from the beginning to the end of therapy.  Nicole pointed out that integration of the mind requires a healthy mind platter which includes all of the following: sleep time, physical time, focus time, time in, downtime, playtime and connecting time.  This is why Trauma Recovery Yoga works so effectively for healing and why talk therapy alone is not enough.

The body never forgets, but you can teach it how to forgive.” ~ Dr. Nicole Anders

Class schedules and descriptions, workshop information and more can be found on the website at dtlvcoop.com. Additional information about Trauma Recovery Yoga may be found on their website at traumarecoveryyoga.org.

The Downtown Yoga and Wellness Co-op is located at 701 East Bridger Avenue, Suite 150, Las Vegas NV 89101 inside the Driven NeuroRecovery Center. Free parking is available Monday through Friday 6am-6pm in the underground garage accessed on 8th Street, and Monday through Friday after 6pm on 8th Street and Bridger Avenue.

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