Trauma Yoga


Trauma Yoga

I am pondering the possibility of taking a yoga class for people with trauma.  It is a ten week series.  Here’s the description, “Life experiences of loss or trauma can result in feelings of anxiety, sadness, agitation and reactivity, as well as symptoms of PTSD (e.g., flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and nightmares.) These experiences live in our bodies, as well as our minds and hearts, and can manifest in subtle or obvious difficulties with self-regulation, insomnia, an increased startle response and heart rate, etc. Yoga, and mindfulness practices working with the breath, can gently shift these patterns and begin to introduce a counteractive experience of calm and relaxation that allows individuals to re-inhabit their bodies with a growing sense of safety, strength, and stability. No prior experience with yoga is necessary.”

I never would have considered taking this class had I not started yoga over the summer. But, I am building some yoga confidence (in terms of being seen doing yoga, moving my body, practicing the breathing, etc.) and am not overly concerned about the yoga aspect.  But…it is a class, which means there will be people there, so I will feel very, very self-conscious. Plus, it is a new instructor, who I don’t know and don’t trust.  So that will make me very anxious.  And…I have no idea what she will do with the class…I hate the unknown.  And…what if the class stirs up feelings? Can I handle that?

I emailed my Yoga Instructor about the class yesterday and she really likes the place that is offering the class and she knows the instructor and she gave her a ringing endorsement.  As a matter of fact, my YI even floated the idea of attending the first class with me to ease the transition, which is an amazingly kind thing to offer…..But….I just don’t know about taking the class…Sometimes, I just wish I was braver.

One thing that caught my eye about the instructor for the class was this part of her bio, “I completed a 40-hour trauma-sensitive yoga teacher certificate program at The Trauma Center at JRI directed by Bessel van der Kolk, a renowned trauma expert. He and the staff at JRI have been studying the impact of yoga on the reduction of PTSD symptoms with favorable results.”  Bessel van der Kolk was just in our area a couple of weeks ago doing a two day training and the Art Therapist and I briefly discussed it…The AT said that van der Kolk is pretty much the trauma “guru”.  I did some research on van de Kolk and he sure seems to know his stuff!  So the fact that the class instructor has been through van de Kolk’s training program has piqued my curiosity.

Did I mention that I wish I was braver?  It’s funny, after last Thursday’s session the AT said to me, “I applaud your courage.”  And I was kind of stuck on the word courage because the last thing I feel is courageous.  So…I looked up the word courage for the exact definition, which according to Merriam Webster is, “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.”  And I realized that I can’t be stuck on the word…because you know what courage is?  Pluck. Yup.  Plain old pluck.  And my pluck may be rusty…but I’ve still got it. Maybe I can use that pluck to get myself to a trauma yoga class.

I wish I didn’t always feel so torn between two parts….The part of me that is afraid of everything and the part of me that wants to get out there and do more and take care of myself.  It’s so frustrating!

But you know what?  I do hard things.  I do them all the time…Like starting my yoga practice….Talk about something that I was really afraid to do!  And I went anyway.  And I felt very anxious, very self-conscious, very uncomfortable, very awkward and very afraid. And then I went back the next time and felt all those things over again.  And I didn’t let it stop me…And now I love my yoga!

Heck…look at Art Therapy!  Talk about doing hard things! New therapist, new modality, male therapist….And I went and it was awful….for weeks it was impossibly hard to get used to him and all the newness…But I kept going back and it has worked out.  So, yeah…I do hard things.

Okay…here’s my goal.  If you are interested in the trauma yoga class, you are supposed to contact the instructor to make sure the class is appropriate for you.  I will call her today. And I will not procrastinate until 4:00 to call her…I will do it this the morning.

4 thoughts on “Trauma Yoga

  1. Courage is proceeding even if terrified.
    When you call, you could request a couple of things. To meet her in person first to get a feel for her. And also, not knowing how being with others might affect you, a very valid concern considering the goals of the process, if you pay per session. That way you have a way out if it does not work out. She might also offer private sessions, but the cost may be prohibitive. You do have so much courage! It is no picnic facing these things.

  2. You are brave and courageous! I think this could be a wonderful opportunity for you, if you feel comfortable with the instructor and it’s definitely really nice that your instructor is willing to go to the first class with you! Bessel is absolutely amazing! I read his book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ and he talks a lot about yoga as treatment for trauma. He does lectures on his book, which you can find on YouTube for free. Good luck!! Be gentle with yourself. You’re taking huge steps! Many hugs, friend! xxx

  3. This reminds me of the quote, that “strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.” The 1st time you go to the class, the people will be strangers, but then next time you go…. well they’ll be less stranger and more aquaintance. And the benefits of the class will probably outweigh the risk. I know it’s all really difficult, I struggle with new things too but I hope you manage to go. You are brave.

  4. I have been doing yoga again now for a year and a half. I love it. In the beginning certain poses would make me mad, angry. I talked to one of the instructors after class one day about it, she asked what poses (hip-openers) and she asked me if I had PTSD. She said that she works with veterans with PTSD and is careful with hip-opener poses. hmmm … I don’t get mad when I do this poses anymore, and some of them I do a modification (laying on my back, rather than sitting up). Yoga has helped me and if you go for it, I hope it will do the same for you.

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