Trauma sensitive yoga takes into account the whole person on the yoga mat and classes are focused on inviting practitioners to experience yoga for themselves. Rather than “You should feel xyz when you put your foot here”, trauma informed classes encourage students to “notice how you feel” and asks students to be aware of options that feel supportive for them. The subtle difference in language may seem inconsequential, however it is huge. The use of should sets expectations and imposes the yoga teacher’s perspective and experience onto students rather than inviting students to notice how they feel.
This is a big deal because trauma involves a loss of choice. When teachers say “You should do xyz”, there is a lack of choice on how to feel or what to do and when. These decisions on the mat and invitation to practitioners to feel into their practice is important because overtime trauma sensitive yoga practitioners can start to listen to their body and make their own choices and feel empowered in their body and decisions. This has the potential to translate into decision making and feeling empowered out of the yoga studio and away from the mat.
Of course, the teacher is there to keep students physically safe in their practice and not do anything that would put students at risk physically, however overuse of commanding language can be detrimental. Commanding and controlling language is risky in trauma sensitive classes (and general yoga classes) because students are not invited to feel for themselves. Rather students are being taught to respond to external cues rather than listen to their own intuition, their own body and make positive choices that are personally healing and nurturing. Is yoga about dictating poses to make all bodies look like what we see on Instagram or about inviting and guiding yoga practitioners to find what they need? There is a difference.
All people on this planet have experienced some level of trauma. Whether they talk about it or not is not for us to question. Trauma is carried in the body at a cellular level, sometimes you can see the wound and sometimes it’s an emotional or mental wound. During trauma, the body can disassociate as a survival technique and people can start to feel like they are in a dream like state. Trauma sensitive yoga encourages practitioners to look and feel into their body to be able to connect their body, breath and mind.
There are no physical adjustments in trauma sensitive yoga classes and the teacher generally stays in one spot in class with a clear start and finish time without long silences. The reason for this is because people can potentially feel unsafe with touch and with quick, fast movements and long silences. This comes back to teachers providing a safe environment for students to connect in with their bodies and practice.
I wish trauma sensitive yoga teacher training was part of the mandatory 200 hours of teacher training. I have been adjusted by yoga teachers in classes without my consent and it has irritated me to no end.
1. With respect teacher, you didn’t ask for my consent.
2. You don’t know my body.
3. Commanding language in yoga gets under my skin – don’t tell me how I should feel when you don’t know anything about me…
Anyway, I could go on but that’s another post for another time!
I am offering Trauma Sensitive Yoga 🙂
What I do want to say is, I am now listed on the Trauma Sensitive Yoga Australia site and offering classes in Brisbane and via Zoom. I truly believe in trauma sensitive yoga and the ability for the practice to support students to get to know their bodies, find their breath and some sense of peace within. 🙂
Please let me know if you would like a trauma sensitive yoga class! I am offering 4 week trauma sensitive yoga bundles and super committed to supporting students in a practical and safe way.