Healing Through Yoga for Trauma Survivors
Namaste everyone!! My name is Jennifer Luke and I am a Personal Trainer who specializes in Women’s Health and Fitness as well as a Yoga Instructor with a background in Trauma Informed Yoga. I am also a Yoga Life Coach and Mindfulness Teacher.
As a trauma survivor myself, I know all too well the impacts it has on our daily lives. It affects our body and our mind and the way we see things from the inside out. With Trauma Informed Yoga, we can explore trauma, adversity and stress cognitively rather than Body Based Intervention. We can experience the present moment versus reliving past painful experiences. Practice feeling and become more aware of sensation.
We know that Talk Therapy has been the go to method of dealing with trauma, but does it really heal you? From my personal experience, no it does not. Sometimes it leads to re-traumatization. It needs something that can go hand in hand with traditional Talk Therapy. That’s where Yoga comes in and more specifically, Trauma Informed Yoga.
So what can Yoga do to help me? Yoga can help with the shutdown response. It offers a sensory-motor approach in conjunction with trauma therapy. Integrative movement can help relieve cycles of the shame and hopelessness often associated with trauma.
There are many benefits of Trauma Informed Yoga.
Greater tolerance for emotional states and inner sensations
Increased sense of responsibility for self care
Improved ability to identify and utilize appropriate behavioral response in stressful situations
Ability to self soothe and comfort self when faced with a flashback or trigger, just to name a few.
With Trauma Informed Yoga, we are more mindful of what we say to the survivors. Often more times than not, Yoga instructors use words that can be triggering without even realizing it. When a trauma survivor has come to us for alternative healing alongside their therapy, we use an “Invitation Language” where we put the student in charge in making the decision. We also keep in mind the setting by allowing the student to tell us what music and light setting is most comfortable to them. Unlike the practical application, the Yoga instructor asks for consent to touch the student and is to make it clear what they are doing and why.
More often than not, Trauma Informed Yoga starts off with Mudras - Hand Yoga. This will allow us to direct energy to a specific place in our body. Mudras are often used in Meditation. Mudras and Meditation are done prior to any asana’s or poses. Poses are completely optional. Like I said before, the student makes the choice, not the Instructor. As an Instructor, if I notice one of my students, shaking their foot or leg, I would say, “Give yourself permission to explore your foot or leg with a yoga pose when you feel ready”.