You have choices in yoga.
Trauma can create both an emotional and physical imprint on the body. As Bessel Van der Kolk explains, unresolved emotional trauma creates “issues in our tissues”, manifesting as physical symptoms.
The moment that a person experiences trauma, the body automatically makes a decision to protect itself. This decision could result in a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. It is easy to become trapped by a sympathetic nervous system reaction. The adaptive response can become prime and paramount, creating new chronic states of being.
While the experience of trauma and its aftermath can feel isolating, yoga provides an opportunity to be physically in sync with others. Moving in unison with fellow classmates or with an instructor can help re-establish interpersonal (and intrapersonal) rhythms.
A trauma-sensitive yoga practice can increase connection with the breath, enabling the brain to become less aroused, and relaxation to begin. Yoga can rebuild connections with both the insula and prefrontal cortex, strengthening the mind-body connection. The practice can help a student to regain their sense of control and ownership over their own body and their own experience.
What does trauma informed yoga look and sound like?
The cues (what the yoga guide is saying to move you through poses) are invitational and focus on empowering you to explore forms that feel comfortable and safe in their body.
You won’t be told what you should be feeling in your body or how your breath should feel.
Consent to touch is paramount. As the teacher, I rarely will offer assists to your pose. I will always ask if I can touch you in the rare instant I offer assistance. Check out The Student Bill of Rights for more information.
Our backs will not be to the door. We will face the door to increase the feeling of safety.
The room will be well lit.
You don’t have to close your eyes. You are always offered to but you can gaze at a point on the floor, wall or ceiling.