When we think of trauma, often first responders, veterans, victims or war, rape or assault come into our mind. But did you know that 80% of the population have experienced some kind of trauma during their lives? This could mean literally anyone, including you, your family members, your friends.
What is Trauma?
Trauma arises when there is a lack of choice, something from which we feel unable to escape and is overwhelming to the nervous system. We often don’t remember traumatic events, but our nervous system does.
“Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the event itself. They arise when the energy, mobilised to meet an extreme or life-threatening event, is not fully discharged and integrated. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.” (Peter Levine)
Unresolved trauma can impact our wellbeing, manifesting in various physical and mental symptoms. Trauma results in loss of connection to ourselves, to our bodies, to others, and to the outside world.
However, trauma can be healed!
“Trauma is fundamentally a highly activated, incomplete, psycho-physiological response to threat, frozen in time. What is signiﬁcant in the resolution of trauma is the completion of uncompleted responses to threat and the ensuring discharge of the energy that was mobilised for survival.” (Peter Levine, 1996)
What is Trauma Informed Yoga (TIY)?
The human body knows how to heal itself, when it is given the opportunity, space and the tools to heal. Trauma is physiological, and the body is the way out. Yoga is a brilliant tool, because yoga assists us to gain a greater awareness of our body.
TIY is a different approach to yoga with specific principles. It assumes that everyone walking into a yoga class has experienced trauma and there might be potential triggers. Being a trauma sensitive yoga teacher means that I understand that trauma affects the nervous system and therefore I interact with my students in a way that is sensitive to that understanding. My interactions provide support instead of increasing the risk of arousal, overwhelm and potential re-traumatisation.
A trauma informed class creates a safe and healing environment for students. It is an authentic shared experience with others without having to share your story.
A TIY class is process and not goal oriented. There is no ideal asana shape, we focus on body sensations instead. You are given a CHOICE of how you position your body; you are in full control during the whole class. A TIY class will not include hands on adjustments and will avoid exposed and potentially triggering poses.
A yoga teacher is by no means a therapist, but can help the students build resilience, develop healthy coping skills, increase the feeling of safety and establish the ability to regulate our own emotional states through body awareness, breath and grounding.
The goal of TIY class is to heal, release stress anxiety, learn healthy coping tools, reconnect with yourself and your body, reduce physical and emotional pain and be present in the given moment.
In 2020 I was honoured to participate a 100hr Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher Training led by Atira Tan (MA, SEP, E-RYT, atiratan.com) and Gemini Adams (CF, C-TREP, YACEP, E-RYT, wombsense.com/founder-gemini-adams). This amazing training thought me so much and I’m ready to bring this new knowledge to the yoga community.
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