Yoga for Trauma with Seane Corn

Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, M.A., & Suzanne Sterling are internationally known for their yoga practice as activism work. Committed to conscious, sustainable social change, the trio launched OTM in 2007 as a global community-focused leadership training organization for activists. Photo courtesy of
The Color Purple 2023

By Terri Mairley

In decision at the 11th hour, I purchased a ticket to see Seane Corn a recognized inspirational and International Yoga Teacher, Humanitarian and Founder of Off the Mat into the World,  a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging yoga and activism.

I gathered around a stage with more than 200 other yogis in a gymnasium at the Hanuman Yoga Festival in Boulder, Colorado, USA –  awaiting her message.  With only a few words her inspiration and wisdom made me realize why I was there.

Having recently lost my 25-year-old son Austin at the hands of a police officer, I am on a quest for change. In my eyes, Austin was already part of the change in the world that I wanted to see – he was a free spirit – loving, kind, carefree and a child of two cultures. I believe he often struggled with his identity.  Since his death, I struggled to figure out how I would make a difference, and how I could actively help prevent this from happening to other families. However traumatic and unbearable it may seem, I could feel it deep inside of my core that it is part of my journey, a lesson given to me by God, as his mother and as a yoga instructor for 13 years.  If I did not use his legacy; his life and the way he died to help others then shame on me.

This was the reason the universe sent me to Seane Corns class that day. Corn’s class was about trauma, in whatever form it shows up for you. She discussed the social climate and destress of the planet we live in. What really resonated with me was how she explained that we all contribute to separation of our ourselves from others for many reasons that we are not aware.  We separate ourselves by our culture, race, color; by traditions; upbringing, sexual orientation, gender, age, social status even ancestral karma created before. She talked about how as yogis we have the responsibility to make a conscious effort to be aware of and to recognize how we contribute to the separation.

“You can’t change what you refuse to see,” she advised.

Once we recognize it in ourselves, we will easily and effortlessly come from a place of compassion, love and peace.  She expressed how we are better in numbers and we need to work together for change for unity (yoga). “The world needs our active participation.” Corn’s words, her explanation of how we must participate and take action in the change, to contribute to peace and love the world needs right now or we are “complicit.”  She said the more uncomfortable things look,  the faster you should move towards them. This alone made me realize that I had been staying in my comfort zone, thinking and not doing – I was contributing to separation.  I was not upholding in my beliefs and values as I had intended, shame on me.

Yoga gives us the opportunity to move and release emotions. Not just pain, sorrow or grief but joy, love and compassion and this is exactly what happened for me that day.

Though her words or wisdom and with her guidance though an asana sequence (poses) I was able to release emotions I had stuffed away – feelings that had not come to the surface – things I didn’t want to look at.  It was absolutely the best 11th hour decision I ever made.

I was able to speak with Corn and tell her my story, she looked shocked and asked me to repeat myself. Then she hugged me and said how sorry she was.  I told her that I was struggling to figure out how to make a difference. I said that I had been silent in my quest. She asked me how I thought my grandmother would have would have reacted, then she asked me if I had gotten mad. I told her I wasn’t sure. Along with some other much needed advice.  She said, “you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just use your yoga.”  Then she held my hand and asked me my son’s name.  I said Austin, and she asked  “Austin what?”

Austin Dunsmore.

She repeated his name and looked up, I don’t remember what she said to him or if it was a moment of silence, I’m sure he was listening. I will never forget what an inspiration she was to me that day, I am forever grateful for you Seane Corn.


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