After her experience with childhood sexual assault, Kate Van Horn's trauma manifested in severe anxiety at eight years old, leading to depression and anorexia as a teen. It was when she was in the midst of what she calls an "intense" three-month treatment for women's trauma and PTSD that she found yoga for the first time. Through the group, she started taking a class once a week and was immediately hooked
"I was interested in the connection between breath and body, and how much more mindful and present I felt on my mat," she tells Organic Authority. "Yoga felt like such a gift. It was peaceful, and comforting in a time when I really needed it."
Through her own healing journey, Van Horn created a toolbox of self-care practices to help free herself from judgment, eat nutritious foods intuitively, and overcome obstacles. This new foundation led her to develop (in)BODY Class, an immersive movement class developed to release the physical and emotional tension that we hold in our bodies.
"Turning pain into purpose felt like the most proactive way to continue to live with my past," she says. "It helped me to feel empowered by my story rather than defined by it. I think because everyone holds unique experiences specific to them, it’s the source of our unique gifts and strengths."
What is (in)Body Class?
Van Horn's (in)Body Class includes traditional yoga along with spurts of cardio and Pilates-inspired strengthening poses. The format rotates three times between yoga, strength, and cardio.
"The storytelling begins when we gather in a circle before taking to our mats. All the students face the inside of the room and using one to two words they answer the question 'What do you want to release today?' If the group is small, I will also ask where in the body that lives," Van Horn says, adding past examples have included, “I’m releasing judgment. It lives in my eyes.” Or, “I’m releasing shame, it lives in my hips.”
The voice is also used often in the class. "Whether allowing a scream out in a child’s pose after an intense burst of cardio or simply asking them to sing, using the voice is a powerful way to tell our stories and it doesn’t have to be literally speaking the events that happened to that day, week, or earlier in their lives," she says.
Students also share their stories with the closing connection practice. After savasana, the members of the class turn to find a partner and look into one another's eyes for the entirety of a song. "No words, advice, or judgment exchanged. Simply seeing the story and experience they just shared through the lens of the participant in front of them."
As for what beginners can expect from the class, Van Horn says first time members of the class may feel physically challenged but tend to feel equally supported and seen by the group, and "emotionally speaking, a breakthrough can occur. It can bring to the surface something they’ve been avoiding looking at for quite some time."
Students often say they feel lighter after the class. "They’ve told me that it brought to light something they’ve been leaving in the dark for a while," Van Horn says. "They often say they feel more in their bodies than they have in years. That they found and felt their feet, meaning they felt grounded and supported, and that they felt seen by others but not intimidated, unlike previous yoga or fitness classes."
Why Our Bodies Hold So Much Emotional and Mental Tension
"So much of our experiences and reactions are learned. We hold onto patterns and behaviors that have been conditioned for years," says Van Horn. "I used to experience the smallest trigger that would remind my body what it had experienced in the past and immediately return to a fight or flight response and feeling 'on edge'."
That’s when she realized that the body can carry energy and wondered without the conscious release of it, how can we free ourselves of it?
"I found that intentional (and sometimes intense) movement was the most effective way to release," she says. "Two minutes of breath work at the beginning of class is what I offer, and in just two minutes I (and clients) feel the energy buzzing, like a flush to the body and a system of new prana and less of the stagnancy that once lived in our heart spaces and limbs."
As her website puts it: "we go (in). to move through. and clear out."
Why Wellness Requires Us to Listen to Our Bodies
When it comes to her own wellness philosophy, Van Horn says it's vital for her to listen and honor her body.
"Wellness looks different to me every single day, and that’s how I define that I’m getting it so-called 'right,'" says Van Horn. "Sometimes it’s pizza, a cocktail, and staying up late dancing with girlfriends. Other times it’s a massage and day of clean eating. I listen to what I need and truly listen. I think wellness looks and feels like permission to be whatever it needs to become. We’re all looking for permission to be ourselves and honor ourselves. If my wellness routine doesn’t feel like freedom, I reevaluate."
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