11.21.16 | Carly Lanning
In 2007, just months before graduating from the University of California, Irvine, Zabie Yamasaki was drugged and raped by a stranger at a Newport Beach bar. But it wasn't until she found yoga that she believed her healing really began.
"Yoga has been my therapy and quite frankly, it changed my life and the trajectory of my healing process," Yamasaki, 31, told NBC News. "I realized there was something powerful about not feeling like I needed to have the words to articulate what I was feeling."
After receiving her graduate degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 2010, Yamasaki returned to Southern California, joining UC Irvine's Campus Assault Resources and Education office as a violence prevention coordinator where dozens of testimonies began to flood her inbox as survivors shared symptoms she knew too well: flashbacks, recurring nightmares, inescapable anxiety, depression.
During this time, Yamasaki also became a certified yoga teacher — moved by her own experience with yoga following her assault — and in her small attic office, she decided to draw upon each of the stories she heard from survivors as she created and launched her first yoga series: an eight-week holistic healing program focused on empowering survivors of sexual violence through yoga.