Trauma Informed Yoga Practice

Trauma Informed Wellness Services

Rachel Allen ERYT200 partners and collaborates with nonprofits and providers of services to individuals who have sustained trauma in their lives and deal with co occurring issues such as addiction. Rachel is a member of Yoga Service International, a rostered teacher with The Breathe Network and involved through continued education with Off the Mat and Into the World. Rachel teaches women who are survivors of rape, domestic violence, those who suffer from addiction and homelessness and incarcerated women. “It is a privilege to share this practice and honor the light that exists in all beings without exception.”

In addition to trauma classes, Rachel has trainings available for clinicians, therapists and yoga teachers.

The classes and trainings draw from the research piloted by Bessel Van der Kolk and the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute showing the efficacy of yoga in shifting the neurobiology of the traumatized brain. More information and the published research can be found at the Trauma Center’s website

Why Yoga?

Yoga is a time honored system that addresses human suffering. It addresses the states and conditions of the mind and brings the body as a tool for reclaiming one’s life as the body physically experiences all of life and holds memory (issues that live in our tissues) in our very cells.

In yogic philosophy, there are two roots of suffering. The first is attachment to pleasure which can manifest in clinging, grasping, greed and cravings. The second is aversion to feeling which can manifest in denial, shame, blame, resentment and numbing. We can see the relationship between trauma, addiction and these states of being, all of which are part of the normal human experience but those living in the cycles of addiction and unprocessed trauma live with the volume full blast in these states.

 Yoga has the potential to turn down the volume here and to re establish feelings of self forgiveness, self acceptance, self awareness, compassion for self and others. This is a process, often lifelong that allows participants to access their own body as a tool for self regulation.

The basic tools of grounding, orienting yourself in space and time in the present moment, feeling your body in space and time, consciously accessing your breath, with this, we can begin to recognize the need arises in the moment, be aware of choice, and potentially choose skillful action that honors our life and all of life.

Yoga, Trauma and Addiction

Yoga contains the ability to meet the suffering of addiction in the body with the practice of breathing, moving,stretching, strengthening and releasing muscles. The body which has experienced the pains of addiction and trauma can become a source of emotional self regulation and healing. Moving our bodies with intention and awareness can change the way we think and feel. Neuroscience is now demonstrating this with evidence that moving with awareness links the primitive reptilian brain to the midbrain area of emotional self regulation to the prefrontal cortex where long term strategic planning and empathy are located. This happens through the creation of interoceptive pathways that fire up with this mindful movement based practice linking and connecting these areas of the brain.

 Yoga has the ability with regular practice and in conjunction with other recovery supports to fire up and aid in restoring balance to the pain/pleasure receptors in the brain which are damaged by addiction and trauma.

We are always in need of financial support for these programs. If you are inclined to support trauma informed classes or other related services, please contact any of the agencies listed below.

Trauma-sensitive yoga for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors is available at the following agencies:

 

Trainings

Mindfulness Based Movement for Clinicians

The primary aim is in a trauma sensitive practice is to provide the tools that support the shift that yoga facilitates in the brain’s rhythms, allowing survivors to engage self-regulatory mechanisms in the brain’s arousal system.

Goal: To provide the tools of a trauma informed yoga practice to staff to integrate into existing treatment that complements and supports emotional self regulation in a mindful embodied experience.

Objectives:

  • Staff will gain awareness of trauma informed yoga as distinct from the larger practice of yoga in studios or fitness clubs.
  • Staff will become informed of the effects of yoga on the traumatized brain with potential for increased emotional self regulation in the individual with trauma.
  • Staff will receive experiential practice with three short practices that can be used with groups or one on one sessions. Handouts and Yoga Cards will also be available as well as access to privately linked Youtube Videos for refreshers on the practices.
  • Staff will explore this practice in role playing with each other the three short practices and the one on one sessions.

Trauma Informed Training for Yoga Teachers:

The goal of this training is to provide a basic introduction on trauma and its impact on the mind, body and spirit and to provide teachers with the tools to use trauma sensitive language and practices in the regular class environment.

Goals:

  • Participants will gain a basic understanding of trauma and its impact on the mind, body and spirit
  • Participants will become informed of the specific nature of a trauma sensitive practice and application in prisons, rehabs, and other community based settings.
  • Participants will explore practices for making your regular class more trauma sensitive

Coming soon!

Trauma Sensitive Yoga for Wellness and Recovery

A comprehensive training that will equip yoga teachers to teach from a trauma informed, recovery focused, social justice framework in settings such as prisons, shelters and other community based settings.

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Tools for self-regulation
  • Empowerment and control

For more information about the Integrative Healing Group for survivors and/or to host an art exhibit from this program, please call Victim Services Inc at 814-288-4961, or download our informational PDF.

Contact Rachel if you are interested in a presentation that educates the community about trauma and the role of yoga as a therapeutic intervention.