Recent developments in trauma-informed (or trauma-sensitive) Yoga have shed light on how Yoga can be tailored specifically to help trauma survivors. Trauma can reverberate throughout the body and mind long after an event. This can cause mental and physical exhaustion and a desire for dissociation. Trauma-informed Yoga explores the sensitivities of people who are suffering from trauma. It is designed to help traumatized individuals gain a sense of self-regulation and safety through increased body awareness. Recent studies have shown that trauma-informed classes effectively treat populations like girls in juvenile justice, sexual abuse survivors, and veterans.
What is trauma-informed Yoga
Trauma-Informed Yoga is a new Hatha yoga style adapted to people who’ve experienced traumatic experiences. This type of Yoga uses specific teaching methods that allow an individual to practice Yoga in a class where trauma triggers are minimized and to use the mindful and grounding techniques provided to cope after a trauma. This practice helps to process and release traumatizing memories by creating a sense of comfort, safety, and peace. A trauma-sensitive class is carefully designed to create a feeling of comfort, safety, and peace to process and release traumatic memories.
Trauma-informed Yoga suggests that traumatic memories are hidden in physical sensations. Dissociation, often associated with trauma, can be vital and strategic to traumatized individuals. It forms a protective barrier that helps mask an experience’s fear and vulnerability. A person sexually abused by an acquaintance may avoid any connection or intimacy because they don’t want to bring back the confusion from their betrayal. Dissociation is used as a weapon to combat manipulation and abuse. It’s a way to keep control so that something similar doesn’t happen again. Trauma-informed Yoga addresses dissociation in these individuals and provides a way to overcome it.
A Trauma-Informed Yoga Class is more than asanas. This holistic program will help you overcome your trauma and move to a place where healing can occur.
A trauma-sensitive yoga teacher deeply understands trauma and is aware that students might experience traumatic reactions in class. To center themselves, the teacher encourages students to connect with their bodies and focuses on breathing. Teachers use language carefully and are aware of the impact of their words. They give students control over their own experiences.
The Principles of Trauma-Sensitive Classes
Creates an environment that is safe, non-judgmental, and trusting
Listen to your body and breathe and honor it
Mind-body connection strengthened
Slow down by connecting with your breath
A deeper understanding of the body
Self-regulation, self-calming, and self-soothing are encouraged.
Learn how to let go and release.
Encourages curiosity, motivation, and self-esteem
The Power of Trauma-Informed Yoga Practices
In a Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality Report, trauma-informed Yoga revealed the potential of profound neurological and physiological transformations in traumatized juvenile justice system girls. Teachers with trauma-informed training guided the girls in focused breath, Yoga poses, and Mindfulness practices. All of this was done while being sensitive to the traumas. Rebecca Epstein is the study’s lead author and executive director at Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality. She explained that the tools could slow down the girls’ reactions to stressful situations and reprogram their brains to pause before they have a destructive response.
Missy Hart is a survivor of sexual abuse, street trauma, and gang violence. At the time, she was in the juvenile justice system of Palo Alto (CA). Missy told NPR that trauma-informed Yoga helped her heal. Hart was grateful for the modifications to the trauma-informed sessions to address her sensitivities.
Hart commented on the instructor’s adjustments in posture: “They always ask if you would like to be touched.” “I can see how that helped me.”
She explained, “Being asked for a touch gave us some power in a place where we have lost all of our power.”
A Trauma-Informed Space is Created by Yoga
Someone who has experienced sexual abuse may feel uncomfortable when someone touches them or closes their eyes in a crowd. Trauma-informed yoga instructors make a more significant effort to help their students feel empowered, safe, and able to connect their minds with their bodies.
Veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) and are returning home from war learn to suppress their sensations to avoid the horrors of their memories. They also find relief from trauma-informed Yoga. Recent studies conducted by the Trauma Center and the Department of Defense have shown that trauma-informed Yoga can help veterans with PTSD.
Individual veteran reports also indicate promising results. Marine Sgt. Senior Martinz, a Marine Sgt., told the Huffington Post that trauma-informed Yoga has helped him deal with his PTSD since returning from Afghanistan.
In an article in the Huffington Post, he describes the feeling of anxiety, hypervigilance, and guilt that has kept him on edge since the explosion. He also talks about his emotional numbness and the fear of danger that he is always ready to face. A wave of relief washes over him as he practices Yoga. He can relax and let go of his guard as he can engage with his feelings in guided breathing and movement.
Martz stated in the article, “I have to push myself and try these techniques.” “But I slept well last night after Yoga. It’s been a while since I’ve been there.
Benefits of Trauma-Informed Yoga
Encourages a feeling of belonging and confidence
It fosters a sense of empowerment and control
Reduces the overall effects of PTSD
Concentration and energy levels are increased
Building mental and emotional resilience and stability
Reduces anxiety, depression, and insomnia