From research scientist to trauma-sensitive yoga facilitator, educator, and speaker.
I want to make sure the people I work with experience the most effective mind-body practices.
My expertise is emotional trauma, with a MSc and PhD focusing on fear memory and 4 years experience working with trauma survivors.
I have worked with private clients that have experienced stress, anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, complex PTSD, and PTSD. I have also worked within community organisations and Queensland Health facilitating programs that support adults and youth experiencing complex mental illness, complex trauma, and alcohol and other drug rehabilitation.
I create content on topics including body-based theories of emotion, the mind-body connection, body awareness and resilience, and the impact of emotional trauma on the mind and body. As result, I've been invited to speak on topics associated with resilience, how trauma-sensitive yoga works to reduce symptoms of trauma, and the mind-body connection.
I have a PhD in Psychology (2009) and over 13 years of academic research experience. During that time I published research and lectured on topics including emotional memory, schizophrenia, personality psychology, biological psychology, behavioural and systems neuroscience, cognition, and molecular biology.
I've held research positions in New Zealand (University of Canterbury, and Otago), The USA (Yale University), and in Australia (The Queensland Brain Institute); as well as causal lecturing positions in New Zealand (The University of Canterbury, and Otago) and the USA (Qunnipiac University).
The Transition to Yoga
After working in academia for over 13 years and practicing yoga since 2008, I wanted to make a career shift that would be more aligned with my core passions- psychology, yoga, and teaching. Being interested in the transformational effects of yoga and having a research background in emotional memory, I was following research on the trauma-sensitive yoga... I knew this was the space I wanted to be working in.
I started teaching general yoga in 2016, and have completed over 700 hr of yoga teacher training. In 2018 I received my Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga Facilitator certification. I am currently supervised by the Center for Trauma and Embodiment at the Justice Research Institute (MA, USA), and complete yearly continuous professional development points to maintain my certification. Because of my overall interest in yoga, you might also find me teaching general studio yoga classes around Brisbane.
Recommended Books and Resources
A selection of books and resources focused around mind-body integration in psychology and body-based therapy for mental health.
By using these links to make a purchase there is no additional cost to you, but I make a small commission that is greatly appreciated.
In this work the neuroscientist Damasio makes a case for the importance of body-based feelings in guiding unconscious behaviour, for the generation of consciousness, and the experience of the self. He goes into detail about how the body and brain interact during these processes and the role of homeostasis (i.e., finding a state of balance) at a physical, social, and cultural level.
In the first section of this book the focus is on yoga as a spiritual practice and psychology as depth psychology / psychoanalysis. In later sections the focus shifts towards current research on somatic psychology, trauma, and trauma-sensitive yoga. In the final section, Maria offers practical exercises based on Somatic Experiencing (developed by Peter Levine) that could be used to facilitate felt body sense (i.e., interoception) in a personal or taught yoga practice.
I often use these cards when working with youths with complex mental illness, I've found them helpful for engagement. Different types of yoga forms are colour coded (e.g., back-bends are orange, forward folds are green), I offer the opportunity to pick shapes form different colour sections based on what they would like to explore on the day. The deck also comes with a small booklet that suggest other ways to use the cards and information about trauma-sensitive yoga with children and young adults.