News » Strokes & Plugs

Meditative healing: Yoga and psychotherapy team up in Los Osos workshop



With the ever-growing popularity of yoga, and the spread of those namastaying, faux-yogis, there are plenty of reasons for the disdainful and the skeptical to keep away from this ancient practice.

But Joann Lutz, a licensed independent clinical social worker based in Massachusetts, is trying to highlight the multitude of benefits that yoga brings. Lutz will be leading a workshop in Los Osos titled Bringing Trauma Informed Yoga into the Psychotherapy Session.

“This is a very exciting practice in the field of yoga,” Lutz said. “These aspects of yoga are very similar to the new somatic psychotherapy practices that are growing in popularity. But the difference is yoga has been around for 5,000 years. It’s really a complete system of healing.”

HEAL THIS:  The trauma-informed yoga workshop will be held at Bonita Zisla’s studio in Los Osos. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BONITA ZISLA
  • HEAL THIS: The trauma-informed yoga workshop will be held at Bonita Zisla’s studio in Los Osos.

Lutz has been practicing yoga for more than 40 years and teaches trauma-sensitive yoga at the Recovery Learning Center in Holyoke, Mass. Additionally, Lutz has taught trauma-sensitive yoga to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Her workshop will focus mostly on showing those who suffer from PTSD how to use yoga as a way to help heal them, both physically and mentally.

“For people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, they may not be able to take care of themselves because they’ve blocked out body sensations,” Lutz said. “With yoga, it’s an excellent way for them to start trusting their body again, and feel more alive.”

Bonita Zisla, a psychotherapist based in Los Osos, saw a flier for one of Lutz’s workshops in Northern California last year, and decided to attend.

“It was amazing,” Zisla said. “It really helped me focus on the work that I was doing. I kept up contact with Joann, and I invited her here to come and do a workshop. I was thrilled when she took up the invitation. I would really like to continue to do the work here.”

Zisla worked with trauma patients for years, starting out working with Vietnam-era nurses in Los Angeles. She has since spent the past 18 years as the clinical director for the SLO County Women’s Shelter. Zisla said that part of her work has always dealt with trauma and has always interested her. 

While Zisla works primarily as a psychotherapist, she also considers herself a yoga practitioner and has taught it in the past, even sometimes using it in her sessions. Zisla said she thought the workshop would be useful for her colleagues and would help benefit yoga teachers by helping them understand things that happen in classes with their students that they may not associate with reactions from trauma.

“This can really help people to be in their bodies in a very different way,” Zisla said. “Anxiety is so felt, I mean your heart races, your stomach punches. Yoga can help calm people’s bodies down in a way that doesn’t require medication. Not that medication is bad, but it doesn’t take effect immediately. Just breathing, and doing certain positions, and knowing how to clear and calm your mind is extremely helpful.”

Using yoga as a tool for people with PTSD and other trauma-related problems has been growing in popularity throughout the East Coast, but Zisla said she wants to bring it to the West.

“Yoga has been around for thousands of years in many places,” Zisla said. “So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to us modern people that it actually works.”

The yoga workshop will be held March 13 through 15, at 2280 Sunset Drive in Los Osos. For more information about the workshop and prices, visit, or call 


Fast fact

The city of Paso Robles will be holding an Inspired Home and Gourmet Food and Wine Expo on Feb. 21 and 22. The event will feature more than 100 exhibitors ranging from general contractors, flooring experts, landscape designers, painters, tile and granite specialists, local restaurants, wineries, etc. In addition, there will be live cooking show demonstrations, DIY workshops, and wine and food tasting. There will also be tips and ideas on building and decorating a home on a budget. The event is free, and will be held at the Paso Robles Event Center at 2198 Riverside Ave. For more information about the event, visit, or call 772-4600.


Intern Adriana Catanzarite compiled 
this week’s Strokes and Plugs. 
Send your business and nonprofit 
news to

Add a comment