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What is enlightened trauma yoga?

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It can be shocking identifier Like any “exceptionally distressing and temporary event, leaving permanent psychiatric symptoms”.

Although trauma is often seen as an aspect of mental health, leading researchers such as psychiatrist Bisel van der Kolk, who authored the book The Body Keeps Score, note that trauma “lives” in our bodies.

The World Mental Health Survey Consortium estimates that 70% of the world’s population has experienced some form of trauma, although its causes and severity vary widely.

The fact that trauma can go through our bodies makes movement practices potential tools for managing and treating trauma, and yoga has been used confirmed As an evidence-based treatment tool.

Trauma yoga is an individualized approach to teaching rather than a specific method.

in 2018 Court MagazineTrauma Informed Yoga (TIY) has been widely described as “yoga that adapts to the unique needs of individuals working to overcome trauma.”

Hala Khoury, MA, SEP, E-RYT, has been leading trainings and workshops around the world since 2007. With Trauma Aware Yoga, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach but rather teachers support each student to find what works for them,” Khoury explains. It’s all about how you teach yoga.”

Many shock-filled yoga classes tend to fall under the umbrella of hatha yoga, which means they are physical asana practices, but teachers can apply a shock-sensitive approach to their meditation and pranayama (breathing) lessons as well.

Although the body of research is still somewhat nascent, it is growing rapidly and numerous studies confirm yoga as a low-risk, evidence-based tool for treating trauma.

  • It can be soothing: One physiological expression of shock is the heightened stress response, sometimes referred to as excessive. With the right class and teacher, yoga has been shown to elicit a “rest and digest” response from the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce overexcitation.
  • Improves emotional well-being: newly Program evaluation Looking at the effects of TIY on vulnerable populations, including incarcerated or in substance abuse recovery programs, I found that subjects reported feeling less negative emotions even after one class.
  • Increases self-regulation: The same evaluation Significant improvement in the self-regulatory skills of people was observed in places of correction and rehabilitation from substance abuse. recent article A study of the effects of yoga on adolescents facing age- and school-related stress had similar results.
  • improve sleep: a Study 2021 An exploration of trauma-informed yoga for veteran women who experienced the trauma of sexual assault while enlisting in the military discovered that yoga significantly improved their sleep.
  • Helps reduce shyness: the aforementioned study It also found a statistical decrease in self-reported feelings of shame about the traumatic event.
  • It grows existence. Some common responses to trauma—particularly for those diagnosed with PTSD—include separation and flashbacks. In those cases, yoga can be an effective tool to help practitioners return to the present moment through mindfulness practice.

There is a fine line between yoga’s ability to heal or stimulate trauma.

It is important to keep in mind that any element can be a potential trigger for a person, from the pace of the class, (eg if it is very fast and stimulating), to atmospheric elements such as lighting or the volume of music.

Exclusion spaces can also cause trauma. Tamika Caston-Miller, director of Ashé Yoga, notes that wellness spaces — from studios to teachers to yoga apparel ads — often promote “white supremacy, ability, and heterogeneous interactivity.”

Because there are many nuances in individuals’ experiences and expressions of trauma, it is highly recommended that teachers receive formal trauma-informed training and/or study from a trauma-informed teacher.

Caston-Miller recommends learning from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ faculty to better understand systemic trauma and the best ways to make the space feel safe and inclusive.

However, there are some general considerations that all teachers can make:

  • Offer all signals suggestions instead of commands.
  • Allow students to adjust the differences and take them as they see fit.
  • When referring to aspects of teaching that might be perceived as weak, such as closing one’s eyes or situations in which people bend over (such as a child’s position or deep forward bends), she offers alternative options:
    • To close his eyes: Say “or find a soft look toward the ground.”
    • For forward bending poses, suggest people stay upright.
  • When venting, always encourage people to go at their own pace.
  • If you make practical adjustments, give students a special way to opt out before class. For example, some studios offer white chips (like poker chips) that people can place on their rug.
  • Always make sure to ask someone’s permission before you get your hands on it, even if someone has “signed up”.
  • Try to use inclusive language and avoid statements that are highly sexual.

All types of yoga can be trauma-informed when one finds the right teacher, style, and preparation for their individual experience.

The most appropriate technique depends on the type of trauma the person has experienced and how their nervous system responds to the separation. Khoury explains: “Some people need gentle training and some need something more powerful. Some need spirituality, and some need things to not be spiritual at all.”

Relaxation classes tend to move very slowly and have very long wait times, which can actually be potential triggers for some people who have experienced trauma.

As a practitioner, always feel free to get out of the situation early or adjust the shape because it feels good for your body, no matter what the class style. You can always leave class early if you need to.

No single type of yoga or posture can heal. The causes of trauma vary widely, as do people’s experiences with it.

Yoga is a very personal endeavor. It’s about finding the right style, teacher, and setting.

People should look for any postures that help them feel tight and reach for their breath, but as Khoury reminds us, “For one person it might be a child’s posture, where it might be a warrior’s posture for another.”

Caston-Miller personally enjoys having blankets placed over her body in certain poses, as the weight helps her feel held and contained. For example, in Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall) she will put a blanket over her navel or in the baby’s position, and put a blanket on her back.

Hip openers and back bends have been reported to trigger strong emotional responses, but again, it’s totally personal, and there are often other factors that play a role – including the external environment in which the class takes place.

Trauma is incredibly common and unique to the individual who experiences it. The key to healing is to regain ownership of one’s own body and one’s choices. Yoga is a great forum to do this, as every movement you make is a choice you make for yourself.

Always listen to your body and adapt your practice as needed so that you feel safe and supported.

In the right place and with the right teacher, yoga may help heal trauma.

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