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Featured Yoga Teacher: Bonnie Glass, LCSW

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017

Bonnie Glass loves Vermont. She has always vacationed here and though she has only lived here since July, already feels like it’s home. Like many New Yorkers, she got married here—on a mountain. Unlike most New Yorkers, she did it in January on Stowe Pinnacle, a moderate to difficult climb in summer, a serious undertaking in January.

Such a spirited wedding gives you a glimpse at who Bonnie is: a clinical social worker, a professional figure skater and coach, a yoga teacher, and change agent who describes her life as a mosaic. She began practicing social work in New York in 2001, working with those who have experienced trauma, violence, victimization, life-threatening illness, grief, loss and bereavement.

It was not long before she realized that her patients needed to move, they needed to breathe. In her mind, the traditional ‘talk therapy’ she offered was not enough. At this time she also started to realize that through her work, she was experiencing burnout and vicarious trauma. She needed to create her own practice of self-care.

Bonnie is not alone. The reality of vicarious trauma for health and human services professionals is finally being recognized and discussed. Burnout is a common affliction among those whose work is seeing, hearing, and feeling stories of violence and abuse.

For herself and her clients, yoga proved to be the answer. She explains, “After one of my clients said she needed to learn to breathe again, to use her body, I went to Kripalu [the yoga and health Mecca in the Berkshires]. I’d been there before, but this time I was ready for a deeper, immersive program. I got my 200-hour yoga certification in 2011. I knew I wanted to integrate yoga into social work. I became really excited to offer yoga to all kinds of communities.”

Today, Bonnie is doing exactly that. She developed and facilitates yoga programs for special populations (i.e. Yoga for Trauma, Yoga for Cancer). And as an adjunct faculty member at Columbia, she often teaches those in the healthcare profession about the necessity of creating a self-care practice. Practitioners need to be able to take care of themselves in order to facilitate healing in their clients. “I consult organizations and agencies on acknowledging burnout and secondary trauma and creating self-care focused yoga practices for their staff…As healthcare practitioners, we have to understand that self-care is one of our jobs. Making it a priority is important not only for one’s own well-being but for that of the person being served.”

As a figure skating coach, she integrates yoga into off-ice training for her athletes. “My lifelong experience in the very competitive sport of figure skating revealed the reality of burnout, too. Yoga enables me to keep involved in a sport and profession that are not always easy.”

Regarding her mosaic life, Bonnie explains: “I’ve learned that I could not be a social worker without being a yoga instructor and figure skating coach; I couldn’t be a yoga instructor without being a social worker and figure skating coach; I couldn’t be a figure skating coach without being a social worker and a yoga instructor.” In other words, her disciplines compliment one another. “Yoga is the thread that creates balance (literally) in all of my professional endeavors. I’ve been integrating yoga throughout it all for more than six years.”

“One of the things I love about social work is collaborating in multidisciplinary teams. This is what I also love about my new community at Evolution.” Here, Bonnie is teaching two drop-in classes (Kirpalu I/II, Wednesdays 7-8 am and Candlelit Flow on Thursdays 7:30-8:30 pm), leading yoga and self-care workshops and series (check out her Create a Personal Practice Series, Thursdays, 5:45-7pm, starting March 9), and will be developing (along with Janet Carscadden and Martha Whitney) a 200-hour yoga teacher training geared to healthcare practitioners (launching in January 2018).

“Teaching weekly drop-in classes and facilitating series is a new and exciting part of my professional life. Feeling ready to embrace this yoga home is the next step in my career and personal exploration…I’m careful not to say too much because of the wild unknown. This is the beautiful part.”