Yoga in support of recovery:
What's it all about?
Hi there, and welcome.
I appreciate your interest in learning more about Trauma Sensitive Yoga. Here I have described a bit about what it is, who it is meant for, and how it works. For more information, please click here to book your complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.
What is it, and who is it for?
Trauma Center, Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) refers to a specific model of yoga that has been developed to support individuals in recovery from complex trauma. Sometimes also referred to as C-PTSD, complex trauma is based on the 2 following central characteristics:
Trauma that occurs more than once, is prolonged, or involves chronic, ongoing exposure.
Trauma that is human-created and occurs within the context of human relationships.
Such experiences deeply impact how we exist in the world, our felt-sense of internal and external safety, as well as the nature of relationships we maintain with other people and ourselves.
So, how does it work?
Trauma Sensitive Yoga works along 3 therapeutic themes in response to the above. These include:
1.Empowerment of the Survivor
In any traumatic experience, we have no choice in what happened to us and to our bodies. This almost always translates into a loss of sovereignty or felt sense of ownership a person might feel for their body, and their perceived ability to control it. TCTSY prioritizes empowerment of the survivor within the context of feeling and moving our bodies, using invitational language and choice-making as a platform. The participant has complete control over their body and practice, and is welcome to pick and choose from the options provided how they would like to interact with their body. As we establish and strengthen a relationship of trust with our bodies, we develop our sense of personal agency: the ability to feel, choose and take effective action to benefit our own lives.
2. Safety in Relationships
Unsafe human relationships are at the core of complex trauma; therefore the creation of relational safety is critical to recovery, and taken very seriously in TCTSY. This is experienced in the following ways:
Shared authentic experience: TCTSY is a collaborative experience in which both the facilitator and participant simultaneously practice together, with each person responsible for their own individual experience. While the facilitator provides the structure of the practice, the specific yoga forms and movements done are based on continuous communication between facilitator and participant. In this set-up, safety and validity is provided for differing physical experiences and a participant is always welcome to verbally communicate what they are feeling. Similarly, as a facilitator I am deeply committed to providing safe opportunities for participants to give me feedback on their experience, before, during and after sessions.
Power dynamics and non-coercion: In TCTSY we are interested in sharing power in order to facilitate a safe therapeutic relationship. Every effort is made to avoid manipulating the experience of the participant towards any particular goal or experience in their body through the practice of non-coercion. For example, there is no physical touch or hands-on adjustments in TCTSY.
3. The neuroscience and mind-body impact of complex trauma
In Trauma Sensitive Yoga, we use yoga forms as a vehicle for practicing interoception - our ability to accurately notice, understand and feel physical sensation in the body. Interoception serves an important purpose in that it motivates us to take care of our basic human needs, however it is also deeply connected to our sense of who we are, our internal security, and how we exist in the world. This should not be confused with interospection, which is the process of observing what you feel and then cognitively thinking about its meaning. Trauma causes the interoceptive pathways to become disrupted which deeply impacts a person’s relationship with their body. This can be an extremely distressing experience that causes individuals to feel disconnected, in conflict with, or estranged from their physical being.
In TCTSY we practice interoception by drawing attention to physical sensations connected to yoga forms in order to rebuild the interoceptive pathways in the brain. Interoception in TCTSY is an opportunity to practice what it means to be embodied - namely, noticing and feeling the body for its own therapeutic value and contribution to recovery.