What is Trauma?
Trauma occurs when a person’s ability to cope with an experience is overwhelmed, and safety is threatened on some level. This can range from a car accident, natural disaster, to being attacked, abducted, childhood abuse, and so forth.
When a person is overwhelmed by such a stressor, their nervous system disorganizes. If the nervous system isn’t returned to a sense of safety, that disorganization remains. Over time, that disorganization can become kind of the norm. Rather than time healing wounds, the passage of time reinforces them.
When in a state of traumatization, people might experience:
Intense and overwhelming feelings that seem sudden and out-of-context.
Body pain and tension.
Intrusive thoughts around the experience.
Feeling fake or plastic in everyday life.
Sleep, muscular, and digestion problems.
Feeling as if your thoughts are not your own.
What is Trauma-Informed Yoga?
Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY) is a facilitated yoga practice focusing aspects of yoga through the lens of trauma. The pacing in TIY is determined by the practitioner rather than the teacher, as TIY assumes that the practitioner is best judge of how much activation they might need, or how much is too much. This means that each TIY session is different, as each person’s need in each session is also different.
How does TIY work?
TIY is distinct from traditional yoga practices in several ways:
TIY practitioners place kindness and gentleness - qualities lacking in trauma - above other qualities.
TIY focuses on changing the real-time response to triggers as they arise in the practice.
Practitioner-based pacing generates the ability to respond rather than react to feelings in the body, expanding their window of tolerance.
The poses of TIY are not important: the poses are only held to create opportunities to develop a felt experience of the body often numbed in survivors of trauma and abuse.
The high degree of interaction between the teacher and the practitioner allows for the discovery and development of boundaries - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The restoration of controlled breath helps return the body to a state of alert relaxation.