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Unlocking the Power of Teaching Trauma-Informed Yoga for Healing and Recovery

Updated: Jan 15

Woman practicing trauma informed yoga

When trauma survivors embark on a yoga journey, it can present unique challenges and opportunities. The practice of yoga can offer a powerful avenue for healing, self-discovery, and empowerment, but it's essential to approach it with sensitivity and awareness of the specific needs of trauma survivors.

Understanding Trauma-Sensitive Yoga:

Trauma-sensitive yoga is a mindful approach that acknowledges the impact of trauma on the body and the mind. It emphasizes creating a safe and supportive environment, empowering individuals to reclaim a sense of agency and autonomy, experiencing mental and physical liberation in their healing journey.

Some Challenges Faced by Trauma Survivors in Yoga Practice:

  1. Physical and Emotional Triggers: Trauma survivors may experience triggers during yoga practice, because certain poses, physical touch, or specific language can evoke distressing emotions or memories.

  2. Body Awareness and Sensitivity: Some trauma survivors may struggle with body awareness and may find it challenging to connect with their physical sensations without feeling overwhelmed or dissociated.

  3. Self-Criticism and Judgment: Trauma can often lead to a heightened sense of self-criticism and self-judgment, making it difficult for survivors to engage in yoga without comparing themselves to others or feeling inadequate.

Opportunities for Healing and Empowerment:

  1. Body-Mind Connection: Yoga provides an opportunity for trauma survivors to reconnect with their bodies in a safe and nurturing environment, fostering a sense of embodiment and self-awareness.

  2. Empowerment Through Choice: By honoring individual boundaries and choices, trauma survivors can regain a sense of agency and empowerment over their bodies and experiences.

  3. Mindfulness and Self-Compassion: The practice of yoga encourages mindfulness and self-compassion, offering trauma survivors tools to navigate their emotions and thoughts with greater ease and kindness.

Creating a Trauma-Informed Yoga Practice:

  1. Safe and Inclusive Environment: When establishing a safe, inclusive, and non-judgmental space, trauma survivors are more apt to feel welcomed and supported. Open communication and active listening can help trauma survivors feel heard, offering healthy space to support their specific needs and boundaries.

  2. Modifying Poses with Sensitivity: By modifying traditional yoga poses, trauma survivors are able to feel comfortable and empowered during their practice. They are less likely to compare themselves to others or feel pressured to shape into a 'perfect' image, defeating the purpose of reclaiming their bodies.

  3. Empowerment and Choice: Empowering trauma survivors to choose how they would like to practice can promote a sense of autonomy and develop self-awareness. Choices rather than commands can empower a person, fostering a sense of control and liberation. This allows trauma survivors to gain a deeper connection with themselves and their healing journey. Some invited choices may include opting out of poses, taking breaks, using props, or modifying a pose with a variation that will better help them explore what feels best for their bodies.

  4. Mindful Language and Guidance: The language used during yoga holds profound significance for trauma survivors. Mindful and empowering language can help individuals feel grounded and secure. Clear and concise cues can offer gentle and empowering guidance, while respecting individual boundaries and experiences.

Incorporating trauma-informed approaches into yoga practice can significantly benefit trauma survivors. It's crucial to nurture space where each individual can feel seen, heard, and supported. As trauma informed yoga teachers, our intention is to help people build a foundation for self-discovery, healing, and empowerment, ultimately offering a more profound transformative experience.

Disclaimer: It's important to note that yoga and life coaching serve as compliments to professional mental health therapy, not replacements.


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