Trauma lives in the body and affects us on a cellular level, which can result in experiences of disconnection and disempowerment. Science shows that interoceptive skills can also be diminished in survivors of trauma. It can be excruciatingly difficult for survivors to sense what is happening in their bodies (tightened muscles, increased heart rate, body temperature, etc.), and in addition, their ability to take full, expansive breaths can be compromised.
Through empowering, invitational language, choice is reclaimed by the participant during Trauma-Informed Yoga (TIY). Through TIY, participants can learn to listen to their bodies and move in a way that will nurture and support their needs in any given moment. TIY can help with developing a stronger capacity for self-compassion and introspection. TIY utilizes interoceptive cues which provide the opportunity for participants to be more embodied and to cultivate a sense of safety within their bodies. For example, participants are invited to notice from a place of compassion and curiosity where tension, tightness and constriction might be held in their bodies and then explore softening those parts to create a little more ease and space. Through regular practice, participants can feel more grounded and empowered as they learn to self-regulate. The tools they develop on the yoga mat can translate to their daily lives. Though participants may still experience triggers from their trauma, profound freedom is gained when they can respond to these triggers while remaining connected to body and breath. Their ability to be embodied and present is no longer limited by the trauma.
More than anything, Trauma-Informed Yoga honors participants exactly where they are in any given moment. The discoveries made on the mat can become a way of life off the mat. Trauma-Informed Yoga celebrates their journey as they befriend their bodies and breath, while reclaiming their innate wisdom and power within.
To learn more about Trauma-Informed Yoga, please feel free to contact me.
“It is proven that trauma lives in the body which is why body-based treatments like yoga can be effective in reducing symptomology. A three year NIH funded yoga and trauma study found that participation in trauma-informed gentle yoga leads to a significant reduction in symptoms of PTSD-including fewer intrusive thoughts and less dissociation from the body. There are many incredible benefits to a trauma informed practice that survivors have shared including but not limited to: feelings of safety and strength, development of positive coping methods, a development of a strong sense of community, decreased feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety, strengthened self-esteem, and the feeling of empowerment to seek other resources such as counseling and medical support.” ~Zabie Yamasaki, M.Ed, RYT, Founder, Transcending Sexual Trauma through Yoga, Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor, The Breathe Network: Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher Training Manual
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“That was the first yoga class I’ve taken since the triggering incident I had in one some 8 years ago or so that felt just wonderful, and without any wincing or wanting to leave at any time. I was actually moved, and my whole self remembered what yoga felt like to me before that incident. The choice-centered language is so great, and Colleen does it so naturally and well. Thank you so much.” ~Margaret Howard, LCSW
“I want to say thank you for the trauma informed class you’re doing. I’ve been in therapy for eight months and have tried several different things recommended by my therapist to access my experience and feelings so that I could begin to process it and heal. My survival brain is stonewalling myself and has refused to get out of the way and the things we’ve tried either haven’t worked, or have triggered self-destructive behaviors. I left the class last week and was able to write six pages of how I feel, and feel good about it, but anxious. Feelings I have not been able to access or articulate for 22 years. I also left the class wanting to do something kind and nurturing to my body. I have never felt that way before. Ever. So thank you for what you have offered to all of us. I know the power is in the yoga, and it’s in the energy and love and compassion and safety that you are and create when we walk into the room. I am so grateful for you.” ~Catherine
“Colleen is a lovely human who cares deeply about offering safe space for healing. The space allowed and held the discomfort and dysphoria I have with my physical body and also the difficulty I have with trusting seemingly simple things like closing my eyes and breathing and relaxing body parts. Having multiple traumas in my life has made navigation in the world tricky, at best. Colleen and the space she’s created met me where I was each class…each move…even each tear that silently dropped on the mat. The resistance to feeling the care that is in that space is futile and once I allowed myself to give into it (as much as I could) the little bit easier it became to show up each class.”~Anonymous