The Yoga Impact Charity: Having Impact through Trauma Informed Yoga in Munich

Two TYIC Yoga teachers, Laurien & Alex Zurhake, started a donation based Trauma Informed Yoga program during spring/summer at a beautiful lake in Munich, Germany.

We are extremely proud to say it was a huge success! Together we collected €826,20 for a local, non-profit organisation called Münchner Tafel. We will touch upon this organisation in further detail soon. First we like to share that we will offer such a program on a yearly basis starting somewhere in May and ending at the end of August. That said, how did this program come to be? Who and what is Münchner Tafel und which role does Trauma Informed Yoga play in all of this?

Yoga at the lake for ever age. Yogis come by bike to yoga.

The idea to offer a weekly Trauma Sensitive Yoga class in nature was quickly conceived after local non-profit organisation Interessengemeinschaft Fasanerie Aktiv e.V. approached us. We immediately said yes and had the opportunity to teach at a beautiful lake. The program is two-sided: on the one hand we offer an hour of healing and relaxation through pranayama and asana and on the other hand we collect donations from those who wish to donate. These donations go 100% to Münchner Tafel.

Münchner Tafel

This non-profit organisation provides food (120.000 kg) for more than 20.000 individuals in need per week! This group of individuals permeates all levels of society: refugees, single mothers, pensioners, to name a few, who all struggle to make ends meet and feed their families and themselves. Oftentimes these individuals struggle with much more than their primary existence. They grapple with trauma, consequences of traumatic experiences such as anxiety, depression, PTST, dissociation, burn out and so on. Many a time these individuals end up in a (potential traumatic) situation where they need help due to these (on-going) traumatic experiences. Per €78, Münchner Tafel can support one person for a full year. This season, Münchner Tafel can support, through our donations 10+ individuals for a full year!

This is why we opted for a Trauma Informed Yoga Program that would impact and raise awareness amongst those attending. In this way, they do something valuable and irreplaceable for themselves as well as doing something for other people in need through voluntary donations. In so doing, we make a difference together.

The Importance of a Trauma Sensitive Approach

When Laurien came back from a Trauma Informed Yoga TYIC retreat taught by Danielle Begg, founder of The Impact Yoga Charity, she changed immediately her way of teaching. It was not that her teaching before was necessarily bad; she just was not as sensitive to the (body) language and tone employed whilst teaching as well as how important it is to offer students choices and when desired challenges. The very first evening upon her return Laurien applied what she had been taught and was amazed how much impact it had on the students attending. The way they behaved and responded to her class was very different and seemed to be much deeper. They smiled more, were more relaxed and felt more comfortable in and with themselves.

Yoga balance pose and twist in beautyful nature

It is important to note that these yogis are not known to have or did not seem to struggle with trauma at this very moment. Yet, the effects and impact of a trauma sensitive approach during a regular class were revealing. We realised that also people that do not necessarily think that they are in need of (professional) help, or are categorised as such, still have to deal with high amounts of stress and pressure on a daily basis. Just by inviting them to move into different shapes instead of telling them to do so gives students so much more control, freedom and safety.

Everybody struggles one way or another – trauma sensitive approaches seem to be beneficial for many, regardless of age, gender, social background et cetera.

Fast forward to the end of August

A duck coming by and checking out the Yoga mat of the Yogateacher with singing bowl
A duck coming by and checking out the Yoga mat

It needs to be said that we were extremely lucky with the weather. Only twice we could not teach due to crazy rain! On a regular basis we got visits from ducks and swans with their little ones, frogs and geese! Our group grew quickly from 5 up to 20 people and together we collected €826,20, equal to supporting 10 people for a full year! In short, our Trauma Informed Yoga program helped those attending and those in need.


Alex & Laurien