In healing from trauma, support from the community is crucial. The community resources that help victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, such as trauma-informed yoga classes, could be lifesaving. Yoga is not only known for its therapeutic properties because of its capacity to activate the parasympathetic nerve system, but classes taught by trauma-informed teachers provide safe spaces in which survivors can recuperate and rest.
Yoga can calm the Nervous System
Trauma is a complex issue that can affect everyone differently. One of the most common effects of trauma is feeling disconnected from your body. Traumas can make your nervous system heightened, where the body is set to be alert and react to any threat. Staying in this high-alert state can be exhausting and eventually can cause dissociation and make people feel disengaged from their bodies and reality.
Yoga practices that combine mental and physical aspects can assist trauma survivors in getting their bodies back, calming the nervous system, and reconnecting to their real selves.
It is believed that yoga and meditation practices aid in regulating the nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as “rest and digest” mode, allowing the body to enter its natural state of relaxation and healing. Accessing an exercise and a meditation “toolkit” can be highly beneficial for victims of domestic violence and survivors of sexual assault because it gives them strategies for self-soothing, self-regulation, and self-calming when confronted with trauma or dangerous situations where they have no control.
Trauma-Informed Yoga Programs
There are many specific yoga programs around the globe to assist survivors in their recovery journey by offering yoga classes that are trauma-informed. Exhale To Inhale is a non-profit organization based in New York whose mission is to empower and assist victims of sexual violence and domestic violence by utilizing yoga’s healing properties. Zoe LePage established it to provide yoga to people who require it but may not have access to it.
Shanti Bee can be an excellent illustration of a trauma-informed yoga program. It’s a place for well-being located in the North East of England that provides low-cost therapies to community members, including its ongoing program of well-being classes led by the founder Rosie Mason.
Trauma-sensitive yoga and mindfulness instructor Sally Roach, one of the participants in the series for trauma-sensitive people 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, the author, many particular aspects of trauma-sensitive yoga make it suitable for those who have suffered. For instance, speaking cautiously and using requests or suggestions instead of instructions or commands. This is an effective method of being mindful of those often made to perform actions against their own will. 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, Rape Crisis, supports victims of sexual assault with programs that include yoga classes. Their instructor, a trauma-informed Kundalini yoga instructor, Jerry, is a victim of trauma herself. Jerry explains her healing journey through yoga “It is the very first time in my life that I was capable of connecting to my body in an experience that felt comfortable that wasn’t connected with the trauma. This is what I’ve observed and experienced with the people whom I work with. Yoga is a method of releasing the body of trauma.”
How Teachers Can Support Trauma Survivors
Everybody has the right to feel comfortable within our bodies. If someone has been through an experience of trauma from domestic violence or sexual assault, It is essential to have access to specialist help. In the case of a yoga instructor and you’re a yoga teacher, there’s no better moment to enhance your practice and expand your training by being trauma-informed. Find out more about trauma-sensitive yoga by reading our post, Healing Trauma with Yoga, and consider giving to the charity Exhale To Inhale (U.S.) and the Rape the Crisis (U.K).
If you’ve had the experience of trauma, you could discover the help of a yoga teacher trained in trauma-informed yoga beneficial in reducing the intensity of your body’s stress responses and increasing your capacity to soothe yourself. Go here to locate a yoga instructor certified in trauma-informed yoga close to you.