What Is Trauma-Informed Yoga?
Trauma-informed yoga is an approach to creating a safe, sensitive space in which students can learn regulation skills through connection with the breath and increased body awareness.
Yoga can be a supportive practice that helps trauma survivors recalibrate the nervous system and heal. But some yoga classes can be trigger students and re-traumatize students. Yoga can help rewire the brain and body to feel safe when the class is taught in a trauma-sensitive way.
Survivors are more likely to experience hyperarousal, hypervigilance, and increased stress hormones. Since trauma is stored viscerally, working with body movement is key to learning self-regulation skills.
Principles of Trauma-Informed Yoga:
- We assume that anyone walking through the door may have experienced trauma.
- We recognize our students as experts on their bodies and experiences.
- We aim to create a safe, comfortable space that is empowering for all students.
- We strive to provide options and modifications for yoga poses recognizing that there is no “ideal” shape.
- We avoid too much stimulation with music, scents, objects in the room, lights, etc.
- We acknowledge that some poses and yoga props might make students feel vulnerable.
- We refrain from rigid statements and cueing and instead use language of inquiry.
- We refrain from “hands-on assists” or apply them cautiously if we do use them.
- We teach postures, movements, and ways of breathing that facilitate calmness.
You may notice that those principles also create safer spaces for highly sensitive people.
Whether you’re highly sensitive, have experienced a trauma, or both, I highly suggest looking for teachers trained in trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive yoga.