Mindfulness, Mental & Spiritual Health & Resiliency
Yoga for the Sensitive Soul

LOLK offers a brand of yoga that we call, “Yoga for the Sensitive Soul”. This can also be called Trauma-informed Yoga.

Anxiety, depression, behavioral issues, relationship stress, and health issues are often the result of unresolved trauma. The goal of trauma-informed yoga is to calm the mind, to build resiliency, and to establish greater self-regulation. It is about feeling safe and at home in our bodies so that we can also feel stable, have good self-esteem, and develop strong & healthy relationships (Hala Khouri, 2018).

Trauma-informed yoga is based on a particular understanding of trauma, one that emphasizes its impact on the entire mind-body system, as opposed to particular mental states (eg., troubling memories) viewed in isolation from the physical body. “Trauma,” Bessel van der Kolk explains, “is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.”

Drawing from neuroscience, developmental psychology, and interpersonal neurobiology, this view of trauma considers body-based therapeutic methods, such as trauma-informed yoga to be at least equal in importance to more traditional therapies, like talk therapy.

Traumatic events involve “inescapable shock”: threats to physical survival and/or psycho-emotional integrity experienced in circumstances that prevent safe escape. Traumatic events may be one-time occurrences, such as a car crash, or part of an ongoing pattern, such as a chronic domestic violence.

Through single-event trauma and complex, developmental trauma differ, both evoke the nervous system response that involves the body’s instinctual fight/flight/freeze pattern, which is hardwired into the human nervous system to help protect us from harm. Normally, this provides the energy needed to propel us to safety. Trauma occurs when we are unable to take effective action to stay safe and remained trapped in a physically threatening and/or psychologically overwhelming situation.

Balancing an Unregulated Nervous System

If we do not consequently have the opportunity to process and release the resultant sense of shock experienced throughout the body-mind system, we may remain stuck in a state of severe physiological and psycho-emotional disequilibrium. Often this manifests as hyper – or hypo-arousal.

To be hyper-aroused is to remain in a hyper-vigilant state of “high alert” regardless of actual circumstance, acutely anxious and obsessively scanning the environment for potential threats. Conversely hypo-arousal is a state of being “shut down,” feeling lethargic, apathetic, depressed, disassociated, or otherwise numbly disconnected from life. 

Either way, “traumatized people chronically feel unsafe inside their bodies. The past is alive in the form of gnawing interior discomfort,” says van der Kolk. This chronic sense of dis-ease commonly produces or exacerbates additional problems, such as substance abuse, disruptive relationships, and excessive or even dangerous over-reactions to otherwise minor events. Over the long term, chronic stress and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may cause other serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In addition to finding ways to discharge incomplete impulses related to nervous system activation, an important part of trauma recovery is to support survivors in recognizing and responding healthfully to their current physiological/psychological state. When taught and learned from a trauma-informed perspective, yoga can be a vitally helpful resource on each of these fronts. 

Yoga can have both stimulating and soothing effects. This is true on both the physical and psycho-emotional levels. Yoga teachers can encourage balance in the nervous system through classes that incorporate both stimulating and sitting postures, and by encouraging students to notice when they feel safe, soothed, and secure. Part of the skill of a trauma-informed teacher is to emphasize present-state awareness and offer opportunities for students to choose what brings them balance. Over time, students can build coping skills and make choices that support their transition from hyper- or hypo-arousal to a balanced state.

 This excerpt is from Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans, published by the Yoga Service Council 2016.

the action or practice of meditating.
“a life of meditation”
Synonyms: contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration, reflection, deliberation, rumination, brooding, reverie, brown study, concentration

Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about giving your mind a break… about calming yourself… about being mindful of who you are. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgement. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well (

“For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the eace and clarity of present moment. awareness. The variety of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies is nearly infinite, but the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness.” -Deepak Chopra

There are a multitude of precious gifts that can be found through the practice of meditation. Some of these gifts include the benefits of mindfulness – being one with one’s self, finding yourself on the most intimate level, and seeing yourself at the level of pure consciousness. Other benefits include calming of the mind and body. Relief from stress, anxiety, and post traumatic stress symptoms. Developing a keenness of mind and releasing the constant chatter of the mind’s security matter, which works non-stop to tell us what to think, what to do, how to live, constantly reminding us of the past in an effort to protect us in the now. 

Physically, meditation has proven to have the ability to provide ample health benefits including lowered blood pressure, physical stress symptoms, restful sleep, and a myriad of other health concerns. 

Still, others meditate to receive relief from the anger, fear, jealousy, hatred, and other painful thoughts and feelings that often flood the mind & body. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate. 

It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator – but it is also true that anyone meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. 

Here are just a few scientifically proven benefits of meditation:

  • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
  • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • More efficient oxygen use by the body
  • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
  • Relief from insomnia
  • Relief from physical symptoms of illness
New research also shows that meditation restores the brain (see more about current research on our ARTICLES page). A landmark study conducted by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s gray matter, in as little as eight weeks of meditation. People felt calmer and also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation. Harvard concluded that:

Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing. 

The National Center for Health (NIH) states that meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. In addition, some research suggests that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. They go on to say that meditation is generally considered to be safe for healthy people.

To learn how to meditate or to schedule meditation workshops, call us at 708-663-5572.
“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
-Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Community Service

Community service can be defined in a variety of ways, but, overall, the main meaning behind it is offering your time and energy to help individuals that need your help without seeking anything in return. Community service is a two-way street — in one way, you are giving of your time to help others who need your assistance, and, in another way, you are receiving the joy and beauty that giving of one’s self, selflessly, can bring. 

Community service is often performed in or near the area that you live in. In this way, your community reaps the benefits of your service. You aren’t paid money for your services, but you earn dividends of self-actualization and accomplishment through your service. Community service events may benefit many different groups of people including senior citizens, children, people with disabilities, marginalized communities, low-income communities, animals, the environment, and more. 

Many people participate in community service because they enjoy helping other people, improving communities, helping dislocated or abused animals, and healing the environment. Other benefits of participating in community service are meeting like-minded people, creating new friendships, developing personally, gaining work experience, completing service learning for school, completed required community service for courts, and learning to give back to those who are considered to be less fortunate.  

Light of Loving Kindness seeks to promote community service by providing its services for one non-profit organization, completely free of charge, every year. In addition, we provide access to this event by providing transportation for others who have received our services to join us in giving back to another community organization.

 Although we all may not have access to unlimited money, we all have access to time. Consider giving back to your community today. Whether your contribution is big or small, offer your services to someone else who needs what you have to offer. Look for community service opportunities in your neighborhood. 

Practices to Heal the World

Cassandra speaks on the role yoga (not asanas alone)  plays in Purpose, Action, Liberation, and Justice for all, in the United States and abroad.

What is your passion? And how do you access it to make meaningful changes in this world? I know that sometimes it seems hopeless, but it is not! It is only hopeless when those who care give up, lose their passion, and discontinue their work of love (Powell, 2019).

Having completed Yoga, Purpose & Action Leadership Intensive and Facilitator Leadership training with Off the Mat, Into the World, Cassandra supports yogis in becoming conscious and effective community leaders. Within each workshop, we cover topics like what is your purpose? What moves your heart to action? How to we promote sustainable activism? How can we embrace our differences while connecting with our passion and purpose? Many other questions are asked and answered during these workshops.

Through utilizing the tools of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry to create conscious, sustainable change on a grassroots and global level, this practice helps us to cultivate self-awareness, while we learn how to move through our own discomforts, in an effort to become more effective leaders in our chosen paths. Off the Mat’s purpose is to help us sustain change for ourselves, our community, our nation, and our world through personal, cultural, and global transformative practices. Allow Cassandra, as an extension of this phenomenal program, to create a program for your specific needs. 

Children’s Yoga & Meditation
Yoga, Meditation, and Mindfulness practices are not for adults alone. Today’s students face tremendous pressure to achieve within a world that is often overwhelming. The tools of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness offer proven methods of developing the inner resilience needed to navigate physical, mental and emotional stress (Little Flower Yoga, 2018). Providing an opportunity for children to connect with themselves, to silence voices of society, media, video games, advertisements, television, and other methods of confluence, is a wonderful way to assist our young people in creating healthier, self-directed mindsets, and can help to increase their capacity to learn effectively, manage challenging emotions, self-regulate behavior, and achieve personal and academic success. 
Temporary Shelter for
Families Experiencing Homelessness
Light of Loving Kindness provides temporary shelter to families of up to 4 people, in a comfortable two-bedroom apartment, completely furnished with beds, linen, furniture, kitchen utensils, coffee maker, toaster, microwave oven, tv set, with elementary and high schools within walking distance. LOLK works closely with local shelters, places of worships, and community organizations to place families for up to three months, completely free of charge, in an effort to allow these families an opportunity to reset, renew, and revise their life plans and to set a new path in a stable and loving environment. Services available include access to counseling, educational support, vocational assistance, meal planning support, transportation support, and other services as needed. Every year, one out of every 30 children in the United States experiences homelessness.About 8% of the homeless population is composed of veterans. According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), families made up half of the Chicago’s homeless population, including more than 48,000 homeless children with parents and another 12,000 people younger than 21 without parents or guardians. The CCH estimates there are more than 64,000 homeless adults, about 46% of the total homeless population (Chicago Tribune, 2015).If you or someone you know are in need of this type of assistance, contact Cassandra at 708-663-5572.