Nan Herron, M.D. walked into the world of yoga in a time of personal crisis (divorce) and professional need. After medical school she completed a residency combining pediatrics, and child and adult psychiatry, followed by a fellowship in PTSD with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk – the field of PTSD has always been her passion. She then went out into the world looking for a way to help folks whose lives had been turned upside-down by traumas of all kinds. Medications were useful, but limited, and so many of the therapies she had learned seemed archaic and patronizing. She searched for tools that would allow her patients to experience empowerment and connection. Yoga was the stepping-stone to that path.
Within a few years she became a trained yoga teacher, and sought to fill her “doctor’s bag” with tools gathered from many schools of mindfulness: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion, Trauma-Informed Mind-Body Program, and Positive Neuro-plasticity Training. From these she has learned the techniques that she had searched for to address her own needs, and she is able to help folks identify and cultivate the therapeutic paths that specifically suit their needs.
Embracing these tools in her own life, and cultivating her own mindfulness practices has allowed her to make bolder choices and live the life she dreamed of. Four years ago she left Boston and moved to Sonoma County, which she describes as “Paradise.” She continues to work full-time in a setting that has always been her favorite: on locked in-patient wards in a psychiatric hospital, working with folks of all ages who are in acute crises of every kind (75% have documented trauma histories). She loves to be able to sit down with someone in crisis and offer them a myriad of options: not just meds, traditional “talking therapy” or ECT, but also EMDR, many varieties of meditation, mind-body flashcards, yoga and others. In addition, she does out-patient consultation for veterans, fire fighters and police who are struggling with PTSD. Another highlight in the past few years was traveling to Kenya to address PTSD and teach skills to Maasai women in Southern Kenya and at-risk young adults in Nairobi and traveling to Haiti to work with women with severe PTSD.
In the past few years she has developed a passion for learning about and sharing the recent discoveries of the neurophysiology and brain changes that inform the magic of mindfulness. It has been exciting for her to incorporate this into her meditation and yoga classes. Her students confirm her own experience: that knowing the science behind the practice makes it even more powerful and exciting, and enhances the motivation to stick with and delight in trying new techniques.
Aware of the risks of vicarious traumatization, she values the art of self-care. She teaches and personally cultivates the skills of identifying and managing positive experiences and relaxation, which for her currently include nature, hiking, warm weather, yoga, colorful organic food (yes, and wine), spending time with my young-adult kids and my partner, teaching and traveling as much as possible.