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Trauma Informed Yoga - Eastern Perspective

The most important gift we can offer others is our presence, when mindfulness embraces those, we love they will bloom like flowers – Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

Trauma is real and it’s a physical reaction that becomes part of us, gets manifested within as a response to the situations. The intention of the trauma informed yoga is to ensure safety, focus on clients’ choices and decision making over their healing. As facilitator, focus is on maximising the trustworthiness and collaboration. Acknowledging strengths and building skills for promoting healing and growth. Ensuring cultural acceptability and sensibility towards the lived experiences.

Trauma informed yoga begins when clients gradually peel back the defensive mechanisms and layers of conditioning, that may have been existed, which may have been essential for surviving the Trauma, but now no longer necessary. This is multidisciplinary approach and multi-dimensional practice. Here by tuning into the wisdom of body, breath and embodied sensations, individual can stay in their window of tolerance, focus on tune into sensations and gradually regulating the nervous system and move into the state of sattva, quality of balance and harmony with oneself as well as in relationships. In trauma informed yoga, the significance is given for the body. Yoga postures are slow or fast based on health condition, energy, intention and how they are feeling at that moment. It includes accessible movement with choices and gentle breathing practice, use of invitational language, a felt space of presence with themselves, opportunity for temporary pauses to reflect upon the stories they are telling for themselves.

The Secret of Change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but one building the new -Dan millman

Trauma Informed Yoga Through Eastern Perspective

Trauma Informed yoga has been very much expressed in Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Personally think Yoga sutra is the combination of yoga, psychology, and neuroscience. It has answer to all our problems. Indian philosophy looks at trauma as a form of duhkha, or suffering, just like any form of illness. Yoga recognises that, we can’t change what happened in the past; what we are experiencing in this moment (present) is the result of what is already happened (past); but there is opportunity for us to prevent the future suffering (duhkha). We can change what is happening, the way how we respond in this moment may influence what happens to us in future. This will help us to understand the process as how we recreate sufferings in the present moment and get entangled, this exploration is offered by yoga sutra. In yoga, we don't go into the past, we don’t dig into past or ask people questions around what happened when it happened etc. When people are in session if it comes out, it comes out. When they are ready to share, they share. Might sometimes the bits and pieces, but that is not relevant. The past is not relevant. What is relevant is what of the past continues to be active in the present life, how that is influencing and creating more sufferings.

Through Asana practice we are trying to bring together body, breath, and mind together. Harmoniously tuning into them, an opportunity to connecting with the sense; coming together to create new memory. When we experience all parts of us comes together; it is painful experience that leaves deep imprints within. The practice of yoga creates another kind of memory where we make an attempt to bring together our whole self, I am in my body, I am in my breath, I am in my mind all are coming together in this present moment a powerful way of experiencing this reality. Triggers may come to the surface developing awareness with them can help us to experience sense of ease, comfort, stability, and acceptance that still I can be in my body. Here body start creating new memory. The prolonged exposure this kind of practices will create memories and brain starts to rewire new experiences as safe, body starts recognising safety and space or situation may feel safe with infinite possibilities, the starting point of stabilisation or pacification. It may take months to years for someone to go through this process. However, when we start experiencing these spaces, we also catching these memories (triggering or calming), more practice can help with remaining in self- regulated nervous system. Overtime may be able to look at some of the memories and even clear out them from system (koshas), overtime they no longer impact.

In second phase same tools used for the purification or processing; here mind developed capacity to be strong, resilient, and stabilised and can watch something without getting triggered. Whole being is in strongest stable form; individual may be able to look at the memory, take effective action to burn it and free the prana that is trapped inside and can free themselves. Memory continues to exist, but it will not carry the trigger, May able to go back to this memory, look at it; shared this has happened; but not trigged by it, individual can reclaim themselves and become WHOLE again- purification. It may take few sessions, months to years from pacification to purification, and it all depends on person who continue to stay with the practice, whatever required willing to do with the practice and do step by step progress. Here the role of the teacher or facilitator, becomes important.

Teacher and student relationship:

As a facilitator or teacher one the key feature of the Trauma Informed yoga is to develop embodied authentic relationship, we meet them where they are right now, taking the story back to how do you experience it in your body, in your breath? Can you mind picking thoughts with emotions and how are you feeling right now? That would be the starting point. It’s not about the story, but how does it shows up in the body. Everyone we meet them where they are, every time with a fresh perspective as a facilitator.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

Becoming aware of students sense of safety, keeping focus on teachers own safe place, checking with self regularly while interacting or dealing with student or client, having healthy working boundaries, having discussions around boundaries, noticing owns one reaction to situations or circumstances surrounding student or client , staying in present by focusing on breath, touch, or other coping mechanism, personal safety plan while dealing with the complicated cases, yet developing an compassionate inquiry about self and others. Sometime what matters is just our presence can help the person to calm down, if the student is in a state of freeze; ny being showing and being with them can help them to manage themselves. The power of trust matters, so is the confidentiality, respecting the decisions of the students and acknowledging and validating their experiences as well. This is relationship is based on mutual respects and seeing clearly for who they are. It is very important to teach from a place of compassion, empathy, knowing and understanding that each person is different and things can affect them; even if they don't affect us.

Self- Reflection as Practitioner

This work in progress; I am grateful to many people and experiences in life. I am officially certified now as Trauma Informed Teacher. It has been 12 months of journey. It is interesting to explore, recognise the samskara, vasana or imprints of trauma that shows up in my body, mind, emotional reactions, triggers, belief that have embed into personality; and different survival mechanism. Trauma Informed Yoga provided me an opportunity to sit and reflect upon my own conditioning. More I will cover as I am moving through this work.

I am offering group and individual sessions, If your interested to learn more about this approach do contact me

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