When many people hear the word “yoga,” they think of striking bendy poses and getting a bit of a workout. While that certainly can be part of it, the benefits actually run much deeper.
Bradenton instructor Diana Hughes is helping her students use yoga to slow down, release stress, and overcome trauma. We recently had a chance to catch up with her and learn more about this very special practice.
A Personal Journey
Diana’s journey began back in 2009 when she started practicing hot power yoga. At the time, she saw it as just another form of exercise and a way to keep her hamstrings loose for running.
Fast forward several years, and after suffering several personal losses, she finally “got” yoga and its many mental and healing benefits. During that time, she also discovered Yin Yoga, which was a huge part of her recovery following hip surgery.
In 2019, she enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training. After starting out teaching flow classes, she soon discovered that her passion lies in helping others slow down and really connect with themselves.
As part of her Yin Yoga Certification, Diana learned how using Yin could help people release stored trauma from their bodies. This is when her passion really exploded!
She learned that most of us have been conditioned to downplay or avoid acknowledging things that happen to us, unless it’s an “acceptable” trauma, like a major car accident, an attack, or events that happen during during military deployment.
However, she explained that trauma can be so much more — it can be anything from a stubbed toe to a failed relationship. When you experience trauma, no matter how “minor,” your body holds on to it. This can cause many issues, including body pain, health problems, drug or alcohol abuse to numb your thoughts, inability to have committed relationships, and more.
When asked about her studio and her classes, Diana said that her goal is to give all of her students “A safe place. Somewhere they can fully relax and create space within their joints to improve flexibility. At the same time, a space where they feel comfortable letting their guard down and letting stuff go.”
While Yin Yoga doesn’t replace the need for traditional therapy, Diana’s studio offers a safe, judgment-free place where her students can acknowledge that they may have something inside them to let go and start the healing process. In all of her classes, whether Yin or Flow, she wants her students to feel safe and relaxed and able to “shut out the world and leave with a feeling of being a little more grounded, centered, and lighter inside.”
Not every class Diana teaches is designed to release trauma, but she is sensitive to all who come to their mat with her. She has an innate ability to intuitively teach those in front of her, helping her students get what they need… whatever that may be on a particular day.
The Healing Benefits of Yin
Yin is a form of yoga that requires you to literally slow down. It uses many of the same postures (asanas) as the up-and-down flow yoga classes you may be familiar with, but you hold each individual pose for an extended time — sometimes up to five minutes. To help with this, the practice is done using many props like blocks, blankets, and bolsters (large firm pillows).
This practice allows your body to slowly relax into the posture, quiet the mind, and “hear” what your body is asking for. It’s an extremely beginner-friendly practice with many benefits.
Regularly practicing Yin yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase circulation, improve flexibility in your joints, and release stuck facia.
Whether you have trauma to release or you’re just interested in exploring this unique and rewarding form of yoga, you’ll have plenty of opportunities. Diana offers private yoga sessions with discounts for active and veteran military members and first responders, including 911 dispatchers.
Diana’s studio, “The Yoga Journey,” is located on the second floor of City Fitness in downtown Bradenton (821 12th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205). Her current class schedule is:
>> Monday and Thursday – Yin at 6:30 pm
>> Tuesday and Friday – Express Flow at 5:45 am (A 45-minute beginner-friendly flow)
Drop-in classes are $15 and there’s also an unlimited monthly membership option. To sign up, send her a Facebook message, or call or text her at 941-773-1087.
She also teaches a 75-minute Yin class on Wednesday nights at 6 pm at Thrive Yoga & Fitness (8819 Cortez Rd W, Bradenton, FL 34210). The cost for this class is $14 for drop-ins. Thrive also offers an unlimited membership option. You can sign up on Mindbody or ThriveYogaFit.com.
Want to explore these concepts even further? Check out one of these upcoming workshops.
Yoga Nidra: February 21st, 6 pm at City Fitness
The workshop will begin with 20 minutes of light yoga before going into a session of Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra—known as yogic sleep—is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. It is said that an hour of Yoga Nidra can be as restorative as four hours of regular sleep. The cost to attend is $20. You can learn more and sign up here.
Yin Workshop: Releasing Stored Trauma: February 28th, 6 pm at Thrive Yoga & Fitness
During this workshop, Di will lead you through a series of asanas (postures) designed to release trauma and help you heal from within. It will conclude with a Yoga Nidra-inspired extended savasana, leaving you feeling relaxed and peaceful.
The cost to attend is $30 and there’s 20% discount for military and all first responders and 25% discount for all Thrive members. Learn more and sign up here.
When you sign up for a class or a workshop (and we recommend you do!) be sure to tell her you heard about it on Discover Bradenton!