In healing from trauma, support from the community is vital. Communities that offer support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, such as trauma-informed yoga classes, could be lifesaving. Yoga is not just known for its therapeutic effects because it can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system; however, classes taught by trauma-informed teachers are also safe spaces where survivors can relax and recover.
Relaxing the Nervous System by practicing Yoga
Trauma can be complex and impacts everyone differently. One of the most common effects of trauma is feeling disengaged from your body. Trauma can place our nervous system heightened state. This is a condition in which the body can be alert and respond to threats. Being in this alert, high-alert state can be exhausting, cause dissociation, and make people feel disengaged from their bodies and reality.
Yoga practices that combine mental and physical aspects aid trauma victims in getting their bodies back, calming the nervous system, and reconnection to their authentic personas.
It is believed that yoga and Meditation practices can help regulate the nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system – sometimes called “rest and digest” mode- allowing the body to enter its natural state of calm and healing. Accessing Yoga, as well as a meditation “toolkit,” can be highly helpful for domestic abuse victims and survivors of sexual violence since it offers them methods for self-soothing and self-regulation when confronted with trauma or stressful situations over which they have no control.
Trauma-Informed Yoga Programs
There are many specialized yoga programs around the world helping survivors on their recovery journey by offering trauma-informed yoga classes. Exhale to Breathe is an example of a non-profit organization based in New York whose mission is to empower and assist survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse by utilizing Yoga’s healing properties. Zoe LePage established it to bring Yoga to people who need it but would only sometimes be able to get it.
Shanti Bee also provides a fantastic illustration of a trauma-informed yoga program. It’s a place for well-being located in the North East of England that offers affordable treatments for the community at large, such as the ongoing series of well-being classes that are trauma-sensitive and run by the founder Rosie Mason.
Trauma-sensitive Yoga as well as mindfulness teacher Sally Roach, one of the participants in the series on trauma-sensitive Yoga at Shanti Bee and Shanti Bee, says, “I see trauma-sensitive yoga as playing a hugely supportive role in cultivating a set of skills to support this healing which brings more resilience to the nervous system.”
According to Roach, There are a variety of particular aspects of trauma-sensitive Yoga that make it suitable for those who have suffered. For instance, they speak cautiously, using requests or suggestions rather than directives or instructions. This is a fundamental approach to be mindful of those who are often forced to act at their discretion. Roach states, “The teacher can be conscious of minimizing the unequal power dynamic between student and teacher, giving as much power as is appropriate to the other by giving them choices in the expression of movement.”
Another U.K.-based charity, called Rape Crisis, supports survivors of sexual violence through programs that include yoga classes. The instructor, who is one of them, a trauma-informed Kundalini yoga instructor, Jerry, is a victim of trauma herself. Jerry explains her journey of healing through Yoga “It was for the first time in my life that I was capable of connecting to my body in an environment that felt great and wasn’t tied with the trauma. I’ve observed and experienced this with the people I work with. Yoga is a method of releasing the body of trauma.”
How Teachers Can Support Trauma Survivors
Everyone must be comfortable within their bodies. If you know someone who has experienced an experience of trauma from domestic violence or sexual assault, they must get access to specialist help. In the case of a yoga instructor and you’re a yoga teacher, there’s no better moment than now to enhance the quality of your instruction and increase your knowledge by being trauma-informed. Find out more about Yoga, which is trauma-sensitive, through our piece Resolving Trauma through Yoga, and think about donating towards exhale-to-inhale (U.S.) and the Rape the Crisis (U.K).
If you’ve had the experience of trauma, you could discover working with yoga instructors certified in trauma-informed Yoga is beneficial in reducing the intensity of your body’s stress responses and increasing your capacity to soothe yourself. Visit this page to locate a yoga instructor certified in trauma-informed yoga close to you.