When you say Trauma-Informed yoga..What do you mean by Trauma?
When I say I teach trauma-informed yoga, people often ask what I mean by trauma. Trauma is an experience which overwhelmed one’s ability to cope and resulted in feelings of powerlessness, helplessness or hopelessness. It may be a natural disaster like an earthquake or flood, war, a medical issue, an accident, a sexual assault, physical abuse, homelessness, witnessing terrorism or it can be attachment-based traumas like having parents not attuned to you as a child, or inherited traumas from generations past. There may be factors of systemic oppression such as racism, sexism, homophobia, economic disparities etc. which have led to symptoms of trauma. Not having access to clean air and water or safety for your body is a highly traumatic part of some people’s lived experience. Again, in this context I’m defining trauma as anything which overwhelmed one’s ability to cope.
That means most of us have at one time in our lives experienced something traumatic. However, depending on a number of factors, for some of us, that experience continues to affect our lives either because we are still in it or because it caused physiological changes to the brain. For some people it can interfere with our ability to find a sense of ease, peace and emotional equilibrium or pleasure in life. Trauma-Informed Yoga is directed toward emotional regulation and feeling connected and present in one’s body.
As you might imagine this is especially appropriate and beneficial for anyone who has experienced stress, depression, loss, anxiety even if she doesn’t see herself as having been “traumatized”, or meeting the criteria for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Trauma a subjective experience. Two people experiencing the same event may have very different reactions to it and trauma can be experienced in different degrees and it can be acute, temporary, short-term, or chronic.
What qualifications or training does a teacher of Trauma-Informed Yoga have?
Over and above a basic understanding of yoga asana/postures, and familiarity with how to adjust a practice to suit students who may have a variety of physical ailments or limitations, a Trauma-Informed yoga teacher has/should have an in-depth understanding of trauma. This includes understandings of various types of trauma, how and why it develops, what possible symptoms may be identified, its impact on the nervous system, the common beliefs and struggles of folks with trauma backgrounds, and the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder.
In addition to my own personal yoga practice, my AFAA Yoga Teacher Training, and reading and research on trauma, I also completed a 40 hour in-person intensive training- with Hala Khouri and Kyla Haglund at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, CA in June 2019.