Anneke Lucas on Being Sex Trafficked, Trauma, and Liberation (#22)

 Image by Francesca Magnani

Image by Francesca Magnani

In this episode, Jacob Kyle and CHITHEADS sat down with Anneke Lucas to discuss her incredible story of trauma and healing and a variety of other related topics, including guru abuses, living the philosophy, and Anneke's near-death experience.

Anneke Lucas founded Liberation Prison Yoga in 2014. Aside from her duties as executive director , Anneke trains new volunteer instructors on site. She also teaches regularly at several of the eight facilities where LPY has weekly programs. She conducts trainings and workshops for yoga instructors, mental health professionals and NYC DOC and DOP employees,  to bring yoga and mindfulness into work with traumatized populations. Anneke is regularly invited to speak at conferences and universities about the subject of trauma, incarceration, and sex-trafficking. In 2013, Anneke started two groups  at the Woman’s Jail at Rikers Island for survivors of sex-trafficking.

Anneke herself experienced and witnessed some of the worst atrocities known to humankind – before she reached the age of 12. Her background, the obstacles she overcame, and the insights she received into the nature of the human psyche on her journey to health are an inspiration to students inside and outside of prisons, and audiences around the world. The continued healing she receives from her work reminds her that human connection is the agent for change, in teacher and student, provider and client.  In 2008, Anneke created a 500 Hour Yoga Alliance RYT program for a New York City based yoga studio. From 2011 to 2014 Anneke was director of Prison Yoga Project New York. She graduated from the Screenwrting program at AFI in 1993, published a novel in her home country, Belgium, and wrote many articles about yoga and trauma. She has been working on a book about her childhood, previewed in an article about her work in the prisons.

DISCLAIMER: This episode features graphic content and might be upsetting to some listeners.


  • Anneka being sold into sex trafficking by her mother into a pedophile ring in Belgium.
  • How the universal drive toward liberation gets corrupted by personal trauma.
  • How cycles of trauma and victimization function.
  • The shame that keeps people outside themselves.
  • Anneke's experience of Truth and Awakening in a near-death experience.
  • How Anneke healed from being forced to kill someone as a part of her escape from the pedophile ring.
  • Living within the paramaters of yamas and niyamas.
  • The patriarchal regime of science and its impact on our approach to "feeling". Anneke shares: "Reason without feeling is cruelty, and feeling without reason is insanity."
  • Anneke's connection to her teacher, Yogananda, and her thoughts about gurus in general, and more specifically Pattabhi Jois and her experience being touched inappropriately by him. 
  • The aspect of yoga philosophy that has been crucial to Anneke's healing process. 
  • Anneke's take on the difference between dualism and nondualism


 Jacob Kyle

Jacob Kyle

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