Yoga classes that help those who help others are taking off in Canberra.
Frontline Yoga is a not-for-profit organisation providing free trauma-aware yoga classes for frontline workers, including police, paramedics, firefighters, defence personnel and health workers.
The sessions are based on research that shows certain yoga techniques can help alleviate traumatic stress symptoms.
Frontline Yoga co-founder Rob Ginnivan said about 20 yoga teachers in Canberra had either completed or were undergoing training to teach the classes.
"The five-year vision of Frontline Yoga is to be within a five-kilometre radius of every first responder in Australia, for them to be able to come to the free class so we can give back and be of service to the community," Mr Ginnivan said.
The organisation recently ran a yoga class exclusively for emergency services workers attended by ACT Emergency Services Agency commissioner Dominic Lane.
Anyone can attend the classes, which do not substitute trauma-related therapy but complement other forms of treatment. While they are free for first responders, members of the general public are charged, with funds going to to fund training for teachers.
Balanced Yoga in Kingston is one of three Canberra venues supporting the initiative. Owner Sue McShane recently returned from a training program in the US which explored how yoga could help heal trauma-affected veterans.
Specific methods were used to avoid triggering symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and trauma.
"[These include] staying on our mats so that we don't trigger somebody coming towards them, music, inviting them to explore their bodies, because there is quite often a disassociation between their bodies and their minds," she said.
"Also lots of breathing practices to help them get back to a safe space within their bodies."
Mr Ginnivan said one paramedic took away breathing practises taught in the classes that helped him manage the anxiety he felt at work, while waiting for his next job.
Chris Thompson-Lang, another Frontline Yoga co-founder, developed experienced post traumatic stress disorder while worker as an army officer. He recently became a volunteer for the ACT State Emergency Service.
"I think that having a foundation of yoga and methods to manage stress put me in a far better position to cope with traumatic situations in the future and will make me more effective as an emergency service worker," Mr Thompson-Lang said.
A Canberra paramedic who attended the frontline class said she did not have a mental illness but planned to use the sessions to build resilience and keep her mind healthy.
Frontline Yoga's Canberra classes are run at Balanced Yoga in Kingston, Tidy Temple Yoga in Nicholls and the Soldier On headquarters in Crace. More information can be found on their Facebook page.