Trauma sensitive yoga is a form of yoga as therapy, adapted from modern postural yoga. It’s a very gentle practice and differs from postural yoga in a few ways. Instead of achieving specific postures, students are guided to bring awareness to internal sensations in the body (interception) and to develop feelings of safety and self-acceptance. The student is always in control of their movements and are invited to freely explore various shapes. Students learn to make choices in the moment and decide what’s right for their body.
Mind-body approaches help traumatized individuals increase awareness of, and attention to, bodily sensations while maintaining present-moment experience. This can be helpful to counteract dissociative responses. It can also help in nurturing the body. When we connect to our bodies on a deeper level, we can regain ownership of our internal responses. Current research shows that yoga can help reduce pain, anxiety, depression, a greater sense of interconnectedness with others, enhanced self-efficacy, self-esteem, and feelings of empowerment.
Trauma can trigger a chronic stress response in the body (hyperarousal, hyper vigilance, and fear). This throws the whole nervous system out of balance. Yoga helps regulate the nervous system by activating the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system). Some breathing techniques are also used to tone the vagus nerve, which activates the PNS.
This practice is not a cure, but rather, a tool for your self-healing toolbox. Recovering from trauma is a process, and with a well-developed strategy and strong medical team behind us, we can eventually come to a place of healing. If you haven’t already, find a good trauma specialist to work with as they are up to date on the latest research. Trauma research has grown quite a bit over the last few years and it’s good to have someone on your team who is caught up.
Please consult your physician or psychotherapist before beginning this practice. Even though this course is appropriate for any level, and created with possible triggers in mind, I recommend you approach gently and slowly. Try 10 minutes at a time. You can also practice with your therapist’s guidance or support, if you’d like.
**This is not a traditional yoga class. It’s very different and very gentle. Those who follow a regular yoga program should try not to have any expectations before beginning this practice.
**Also, I’m not a medical doctor and not claiming any kind of cure. I’m a trauma survivor like you, and this is simply an offering to share what modalities I use on my own healing journey.