In Conversation with Roque Rodriguez

Feb 06, 2023

Welcome to IDC's "In Conversation" Blog series! Here, we will get to know some of our Community Education teaching artists and introduce you to their work. Find what they're saying interesting? Sign up to take their class!

This month, we're introducing Roque Rodriguez! Roque is teaching "Introduction to Trauma Informed Communication" and below you can get a glimpse into who he is and what he does. Check it out!

Give us a little introduction to yourself! Who are you, what do you do?

Peace. My name is Roque Rodriguez (he/him). I am an Afro Domincan yoga teacher, business owner, artist and community organizer. I love hip hop, salsa, dark comedies and vegan empanadas. I'll never move out of the city but am happiest sitting under a tree.


How did you end up teaching an Introduction to Trauma Informed Communication class and why did that topic specifically interest you?

I've been wanting to share my understanding of Trauma Informed Communication since I first became aware of its existence. I first learned of trauma informed communication through a training I did for Liberation Prison Yoga. That was a program in which we would teach mindfulness practices like breath work meditation and asana to incarcerated people. Before volunteering for that work we were required to become trauma informed so we would not do any additional harm in our interactions.


What about your work and this class do you find the most valuable that you want to share with others?

The most valuable thing about doing this work is that it invites you to be fully present with people you are interacting with. Being trauma informed is really about being actively aware of other peoples needs and meeting them where they are.


What do you think is the most underrated or unknown aspect of what you’re teaching that you can’t wait to share with students?

Communicating in a trauma informed way can help you better connect with people you have relationships with. In our course we learn about small "t" and big "T" trauma and understand that everyone we deal with can be triggered by our energy, actions, and words. By learning to acknowledge that you can create a brave space where people can be vulnerable.


How do you find this work impacting your day to day life? What’s shifted with this awareness/knowledge?

It has become much easier for me to apologize and also to correct my behavior when I harm someone I interact with. Learning to recognize people have trauma responses to triggers has made it easier for me not to take those responses personally. It has allowed me to see the feeling the person is experiencing and speak in a way that will allow that person to feel safer and more at ease with me. Its always a work in progress but there has been a tremendous shift.


How does physical communication play a role in this course?

Physical communication is vital in trauma informed communication. Being aware of your posture, proximity to other people, volume and impact of your voice, the amount of and type of eye contact you are making with people, the expression on your face all are things to take in to account when communicating in a trauma informed way.


What questions do you still have about what you’re teaching?

Can a person communicate in a trauma informed way 100% of the time? Probably not. Something i still struggle with myself is knowing how to get in to conversations with loved ones or people in general in a trauma informed way. I know one can always get consent for conversations but sometimes even bringing up the idea of people consenting in to conversations can be triggering for folks so I wonder where the line is and how one finds it.


What do you look forward to digging deeper into?

I look forward to digging in to my own triggers and traumas so I can be less reactive and more active in my care for people while communicating.


How can our community/students in the course support and follow your work outside of this course?

They can follow me at Suryaside Yoga and support the "I Can Breathe" yoga program that provides scholarships to low income black and brown folks for Suryaside's yoga teacher training program. They can also keep their eyes out for opportunities to volunteer locally!


Anything else you’d like to share?

Once you internalize trauma informed communication you can never unlearn it. You may choose not to communicate in an informed way but you will have a clearer understanding of how that choice impacts people. I invite you to explore how the way you communicate makes people feel.

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