What does trauma look like? If you are attending a program by the Purple Dot Yoga Project, it looks like warrior women in the warrior pose. This unique nonprofit uses yoga as a tool to help survivors of domestic violence heal and thrive.
During the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s (USFSP) Festival of Sex on Thursday, Kate Berlin visited the campus to offer a discussion on meditation and healing. Berlin founded the Purple Dot Yoga Project in 2015 and currently serves as their executive director. The nonprofit organization uses yoga as a tool to empower individuals affected by domestic violence.
“Trauma lives in the body,” Berlin said. “Meditation is a more approachable way to get someone to tap into their inner self and where their trauma lives and what it looks like.”
Before founding the Purple Dot Yoga Project, Berlin offered yoga classes in shelters for survivors of domestic abuse. However, regulations did not allow her to visit as much as she wanted. In response, she created the Purple Dot Yoga Project in an effort to reach more people. Now, she focuses her sessions on college campuses, mainly the University of South Florida Tampa and USFSP.
One of Berlin’s main goals is to teach young people about the signs of an abusive relationship.
“You’re looking for validation,” Berlin said about young people entering relationships. “We are so vulnerable to step into a situation that might become abusive.”
The Purple Dot Yoga Project has ambassadors in California at UCLA and in New York at Syracuse University. Additionally, the organization offers training for current yoga teachers who want to teach people affected by trauma.
The Purple Dot Yoga Project also offers a free, 8-week program. The program consists of men and women working one-on-one with an instructor as, according to Berlin, “the healing work happens in connection.”
Above all, Berlin aims to supply survivors with the tools for healing.
“The movements of yoga are only 0.01 percent of what yoga actually is,” Berlin said. “So we give them the full foundation of yoga.” This includes meditation, stretches, movements, breathing exercises, and journaling. From the journaling, Berlin is able to create the conversation of personal experiences between herself and the people she teaches.
For Berlin, the Purple Dot Yoga Project is more than a job. Her passion and purpose motivate her to use her past to help others.
“I chose to make this my work, but that means constantly remembering and being reminded of [past relationships],” Berlin said. “So I had to shift my perspective to ‘this has become a work actually in service to [the survivors of domestic violence].’”
Berlin hopes to see the Purple Dot Yoga Project continue to grow. Ultimately, her goal is for people all over the world to be able to use yoga as a healing tool, one pose at a time.