One of the defining features of traumatic events is the loss of choice over what happened to you. The events can leave you feeling helpless, trapped, or powerless. Therefore, an important part of recovery from trauma involves realizing that you do have choices available to you now, and a therapeutic approach to yoga should provide the same. In a trauma-sensitive yoga class you will feel free to decide things like how to move and breathe or whether you want your eyes open or closed.
When we do not feel as though we have choices, our nervous system can perceive this as a threat, and shift us into sympathetic activation making us feel agitated or fearful in our body. Therefore, it is important to search out yoga classes where options and invitational language is used. The class should offer room to explore movements, take rests, and encourage pacing which feels helpful and safe.
When embarking on yoga experiences and dealing with trauma, I invite you to think of your yoga space as being sacred and nourishing…and each time you come to your mat it is like a pilgrimage to your body, mind, heart, and soul. Therapeutic yoga for trauma recovery is best supported when you have a calm and peaceful environment for your practice. You might find this within a class, or if you are choosing to begin a home-based practice, I encourage you to take some time to prepare your space to be comforting for your body and mind—preferably somewhere you can minimize the unpredictable or chaotic aspects of life.
Ideally, the class and setting you choose for yourself should feel safe enough for you to relax and give you plenty of opportunity to make moment-by-moment choices depending on your needs. Doing yoga with this baseline of safety will then allow you to observe your body and mind for patterns of tension or changes in how you are breathing that arise as you practice, and potentially release trauma related emotions from your body. When yoga is done this way, it can help you reconnect to your body in a positive and empowered way.
Renee offers individualized yoga therapy sessions for individuals dealing with the effects of trauma, where the nature of trust, choices, and safety are put at the forefront of the sessions. Healing from trauma requires a process of re-learning to trust and regulate the feelings in the body through the nervous system, and yoga therapy treatments or trauma sensitive yoga classes provide a very helpful starting point for this healing.