Transcending Sexual Trauma Through Yoga: Zabie Yamasaki

Zabie Yamasaki: mother, educator, activist, survivor, holistic healing consultant. 

Zabie Yamasaki is empowering survivors to heal through the sacred practice of yoga. When I was first introduced to Zabie’s mission, I found myself wanting to dig deeper and deeper into who she is and what she is doing for women of today. I contacted her a few months ago to write a piece for our readers about the power of healing. Zabie has had the opportunity to transform her own trauma through yoga. She has made it her life goal to help empower survivors of assault in regaining their strength, self-worth and voice.

Zabie and I chatted virtually about her personal journey in holistic living and advocacy, the importance of consent, self-worth and best practices in living a happy, healthy life. 

1 – You practice living internally and externally well. How can holistic living help fuel the mindsets for women of today?

I’ve been thinking recently about the nuances of self-care and how it is so much more than the pressure we put on ourselves to have the resources to take vacations or get massages. Self-care for me is about accessing our internal resources. It is about taking embodiment breaks. Creating transitions in our work day. Setting boundaries. Taking a mindful approach to our relationships and identifying the ones that no longer serve us. It is prioritizing our time and who and what is worthy of it. It is engaging in activities that nourish and support our nervous systems. My approach to healing and wellness is thinking about the whole person- mind, body, and spirit. When women can be gentle with themselves and give themselves permission to ask for what they need- it can be their most powerful resource in recovery.

2 – Advocating for the rights of survivors to help individuals find healing is important to you. Why is advocacy in this capacity important to society?

One of my missions is to help the world understand how critical it is to respond to the nuances of trauma. In my numerous conversations with survivors over the years- there have been some pretty consistent themes that have come up. One significant theme was this need to feel something tangible. Survivors wanted to feel that they could regain power and control of their body. Another was just not being quite ready to process through their experiences through talk therapy.

I knew that I wanted to create a program that spoke to the language of the body. The spectrum of healing is so vast. What it comes down to is that the need to offer multiple pathways to healing. Due to things like stigma around help seeking and cultural barriers, it is so important that we increase accessibility to these multiple approaches. As we all must know and deeply understand in this work, NOT every survivor will heal in the same way.

Because of the impact that trauma has on the body’s physiology, it is essential to create multiple pathways and avenues for healing. By advocating for a holistic approach to healing from trauma, it creates a unique opportunity to empower survivors to connect with their inner capacity to heal.

3 – The “unwavering support for survivors of sexual trauma has manifested itself in many forms.” In light of all the recent sexual abuse headlines that have surfaced, why is consent important now more so than ever?

We are at a critical time in our world of #metoo where survivors are boldly and courageously speaking their truth. At the same time, we have to be mindful of the many stories that are living inside the bodies of so many survivors, who are not able to vocalize their experiences for a million reasons including their own safety or marginalized identities. At this time in our world, where the triggers might be taking course for so many survivors due to the inability to escape the constant headlines and reminders of their own trauma, it is critical to highlight holistic modalities as they navigate what is often times a lifelong process of healing. Consent has always and will always be important. We deserve to live in a world where we are not constantly objectified and be made to believe that our body is not our own. I envision a world in which consent is the norm. A world in which asking questions like, “Are you comfortable with this?,” Is it okay if I give you a hug?,” “Can I kiss you?,” ‘What would feel good for you?”  are mandatory. We all deserve to live in a world where our own agency and power are honored and affirmed.

4 – You have made it your life’s goal to help empower females to regain their strength and self-worth. How can readers reinforce their confidence and self-worth on a daily basis?

Wow. What a powerful question. I wish I had the words to capture all that I want to say. What I know for sure is that the first step is recognizing each day that we are worthy of our own love. Like anything else, it is a practice, and not a linear one. It takes all that we have to continue coming back to ourselves, to reevaluate our current practices and identify what needs to change, where we need better boundaries, and when we need to ask for help. It is digging deep into difficult concepts around shame, courage, vulnerability, and strength and uncovering what we need most. What can make life more manageable and sustainable. And how can we take tiny steps to moving closer towards our dreams and passions. If we can take the time to drown out the chaos and all the voices of others telling us what we need to be doing..we might, just might- be able to tune into that internal voice that has all of the answers. We just have to take the time to listen.

I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes that I think speaks to the concept of confidence and self-worth by Daniell Koepke. It is a beautiful and powerful reminder:

“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself. Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me. Because I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered. But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth. Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honor my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority. I choose me.”
— Daniell Koepke

5 – Going forward, what is the best piece of advice you have ever learned and why?

I have been recently attending a postpartum healing group, as my rainbow baby is 4 months old. The incredible woman who leads the group, Molly Nourmand, always reminds me to trust my inner voice and intuition and let that guide me in the way I parent. Families are inundated with far too much information and raising a child is incredibly overwhelming. We are just not meant to do this alone. She encourage me to read the book Buddhism for Motherhood and it has honestly changed my life. In my most overwhelming moments, it helps me re-center and choose a new way. It reminds me how powerful my thoughts are and the ability I have to (in any moment) examine what I need and never be afraid to ask for it. And that reminder for me- is everything.

Thank you Zabie for sharing your story with us and all that you do to empower survivors to heal Click here to learn more about Zabie and her story.

Always be kind. More to come,

Bella Sium

Image credits: @transcending_trauma_with_yoga, @sargeantcreative@mominahan@wmn_space@alex_elle

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