Trauma-Informed Yoga is a space that honors the nuances of the human experience and the facilitation of an environment where each practitioner can take agency over their own bodily autonomy, nervous system regulation, and power of choice.
A truly trauma-informed space embraces and welcomes all emotional realities while highlighting the undeniable truth that embodiment means discerning for oneself what feels right and what feels safe in each moment.
Embodiment practices, such as Yoga asana, are proven to be the most effective modality in trauma recovery. Hosting a brave space for folks to show up and feel into their bodies is a great privilege and responsibility. For many, yoga asana may be a completely new language and matrix to navigate.
For many, being embodied and thinking about the body is no easy task. Every time we step onto our mats, a courageous act is committed.
The practice of yoga — union of mind, body, heart, & soul — asks us to fearlessly examine the parts of ourselves, our lives, and our world that are not in union. It requires us to be radically honest about the disconnection that exists within ourselves and the world around us.
Trauma-informed yoga is a therapeutic approach that recognizes the complex and varied ways that trauma can impact the body, mind, and spirit. Trauma survivors often experience a range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, hyperarousal, and dissociation. These symptoms can be difficult to manage and can interfere with daily life. However, research has shown that trauma-informed yoga can be a powerful tool for healing and recovery.
Trauma survivors often have difficulty inhabiting their body. With unprocessed trauma we will tend to orient toward threat and dissociate from the painful sensations, thoughts, or feeling states that arise in our physiology. A vital ingredient in healing one’s relationship to the body is reconnecting to it. As we dive deeper into this work, we learn that trauma is inherent and unavoidable. Therefore, it is essential to craft yoga spaces that are inclusive, welcoming, exploratory, brave, and supportive.
Trauma-informed yoga is different from traditional yoga in that it emphasizes safety, choice, and empowerment. Trauma survivors often feel a sense of loss of control and safety, and may feel triggered by certain poses or movements. In trauma-informed yoga, participants are given options and choices throughout the practice, and are encouraged to listen to their bodies and only do what feels safe and comfortable for them. This helps to re-establish a sense of agency and control, which can be empowering for trauma survivors.
Trauma-informed yoga fundamentally understands that each individual has different needs and preferences based on what they have been through and how they are feeling in each particular moment. Because of this, it is understood that certain breath practices, mantras, affirmations, and meditations may not land for all practitioners in a supportive or beneficial way. This is why options are emphasized for everything from closing your eyes, partaking in pranayama, and opting to find seated meditation vs a lying down meditation. It is a common misconception that focusing on the breath is regulating and calming for all people. This is actually not the case. Trauma-informed Yoga gives folks the opportunity to decide for themselves what feels regulating and calming in any given moment on any given day instead of the Yoga Teacher assuming they know what will be supportive for their students.
School Yoga Institute has been honored to offer Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher Trainings since 2019. As we recognized an emerging desire for Yoga Trainings that focus on mental health, emotional intelligence, and social justice, we have spent the last several years expanding our curriculum and content with the abundant new research and information emerging in the world of trauma. Our Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher Trainings were created and are led by Jeanine Talento and Brooke Alexander, two of our most beloved and seasoned facilitators.
As our human consciousness and awareness expands, terminology around trauma, somatics, embodiment, and nervous system education are becoming a part of our everyday vernacular. While it is exciting for this verbage to be spread amongst the masses, it also risks the potential of dilution or misinterpretation. Because of this, we feel it is important to provide our prospective students with an accurate depiction of what they can expect to learn and experience in one of our Trauma-Informed programs.
Our Trauma-Informed offerings differ greatly from our Mystical programs. While we still cover, revere, and honor Yogic history and the sacred nature of these ancient practices – this specific methodology serves as a more modern approach to Yogic pedagogy.
We view our trauma-informed curriculum as a bridge between western psychology and eastern philosophy. Because of this, we have participants interested in teaching Yoga in more traditional settings, as well as those who are looking to share Yoga in more alternative settings such as in therapy, hospitals, schools, prisons, addiction centers, domestic violence centers, etc.
In all of our trainings, we come to understand that Trauma-Informed Yoga is a non-hierarchical, heart forward, and humanity centered approach. We learn how to curate any Yoga asana practice to be Trauma Informed, where students feel safe to artfully move through the practice in a way that suits their unique needs.
We offer a Trauma-Informed 200hr YTT, 300hr YTT and several trauma-informed continuing education programs. Depending on the participant’s career goals, the expectations when signing up for a trauma-informed Yoga Teacher Training may vary.
Our 200hr Yoga Teacher Training is our most intensive introductory trauma-informed offering. Participants can expect to learn tangible and concrete techniques for teaching Yoga, Meditation, and Pranayama in any setting. Every aspect of the YTT curriculum is covered through a trauma-informed lens including the yoga sutras, yoga anatomy, as well as the art and technique of teaching yoga asana.
The primary themes of our Trauma-Informed 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training are to de-stigmatize and de-pathologize trauma, mental illness, and emotional discomfort. In this training, we come to understand that Yoga is much more than the hour or two we spend on our yoga mats — it’s a means to engage in self contemplation and then explore ways we can be in service.
Our Trauma Informed 200hr Yoga Teacher Training weaves through 4 cycles: Stabilize, Metabolize, Visualize, and Alchemize. The intention for the flow of this program is to invite students into a deep reflective space of Self Confrontation and then to empower them to excavate their wounds into their wisdom and their pain into their purpose through Service.
The first cycle of our Trauma Informed 200hr Yoga Teacher Training is Stabilize. As we orient ourselves within our new community, it is essential that we take the time to understand what our needs are in order to feel safe and grounded. As we explore sensitive topics and reflective subject matter, it is critical that we each know how to self regulate and trust that we can rely on our own parameters of stability. Our Cycle 1 Asana practice is Slow Flow Yoga — a practice that is all about foundation, alignment, safety, and grounding.
Our second cycle is Metabolize, where we begin the intricate process of self contemplation. This cycle gifts us the opportunity to meet ourselves with radical honesty and courage. With care and patience, we learn that we can tolerate facing our shame, hurtful memories, and limiting beliefs, and process them in a healthy way in order to understand ourselves more fully. Our Cycle 2 Asana practice is Yin Yoga — a practice where poses are held for 3-7 minutes and we have the opportunity to navigate discomfort and build the resilience to process our trauma without going into a state of overwhelm.
Our third cycle is Visualize and is when we begin to shift our focus from deep inner reflection to our purposeful contribution to a Trauma Informed world. Together we will cultivate hope for a Yoga industry that involves realistic representation in terms of race, age, body size, gender & sexual orientation, and ablity. Our Cycle 3 Asana practice is Vinyasa Yoga — with options, a Vinyasa practice can be a great way for students to explore new shapes in their body and challenge themselves physically. Trying new things in our asana practice can lead us to break down the barriers of fear and our limiting beliefs off of our mats as well.
The fourth cycle of our Trauma Informed 200hr Yoga Teacher Training is Alchemize. The intention of this cycle is to spark inspiration for you to turn your wounds into your wisdom and your pain into your purpose. In Alchemize, you will decide how you want to use this newfound knowledge to create powerful change in the world. Our Cycle 4 physical practices include a variety of somatic explorations and embodiment practices.
Our 300hr Yoga Teacher Training is for individuals who have previously completed a 200hr YTT. This advanced and intensive course is designed to offer current Yoga Teachers a more in-depth approach to understanding how trauma presents itself through a bio-psycho-social model. The 300hr curriculum will provide participants with a broader range of tools to offer their clients in terms of prescriptive sequencing, somatic facilitation skills, and leadership/career building exercises.
This continuing education course is open to RYT-200 or Mental Health Professionals looking to develop a baseline understanding of why and how Yoga is an effective tool in Trauma recovery. We cover Yoga history and the Sutras through a trauma-informed lens, basic nervous system education and Polyvagal theory, as well as considerations for offering meditation, pranayama, and yoga asana to trauma survivors. Yoga teachers can expect to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how to use inclusive and invitational language and how to hold a space where folks can explore their experience as it is. Mental Health professionals can expect to link the necessity of body-based practices in therapeutic settings as well as subtle techniques to guide their clients out of their mind and back into the somatic experience in their body.
Because this is a shorter program, it can be thought of as a more introductory course to amplify the work individuals are already doing either in the Yoga world or in therapeutic settings.
In this retreat-style offering, one can expect to take a deep dive into more sensitive topics pertaining specifically to what female-identifying individuals endure. This retreat is geared toward guiding women back to their bodies and back to themselves.
While this offering is less focused on didactic lecture material, the foundation and facilitation is still led through a trauma-informed lens as participants are invited to explore slowing down, speaking vulnerably, and letting go of painful experiences that have been limiting them. Participants can expect to connect with like-minded women, indulge in self care practices and, if they choose, engage in shadow work exercises.
In all of our trauma-informed programs, we oscillate between self reflection and contemplation as well as professional development. We believe that the work we do on ourselves informs the work we are able to do with others. Yoga always requires an element of self inquiry — svadhyaya in sanskrit.
We believe that trauma-informed yoga is simply human-informed yoga because all of us will likely experience pain, heartbreak, loss, grief, longing, shock, loneliness and confusion at varying times and in varying degrees throughout our lives. How we process (or don’t) these emotional states that are part of being alive influences our capacity to stay embodied and present with the people we choose to work with.
There is an over reliance on intellectualization in our western culture. Somatic work, like trauma-informed yoga, reacquaints us with the intelligence that resides in our body. It slows us down enough to notice the fluctuations present in our physiology and nervous system so that we can reclaim and regain agency over how we feel. This allows us to ensure that we are not projecting or transferring anything unresolved onto the folks we work with.
School Yoga Institute's Trauma-Informed Yoga curriculum dives into trauma-aware practices, therapeutic approaches, and trauma triggers because it recognizes the deep effects of trauma on the mind and body. Having seen a growing demand for yoga trainings that emphasize mental health, emotional intelligence, and social justice, we have spent the last several years extending our curriculum and content to reflect the wealth of fresh information and research being produced in the field of trauma.
Our Trauma-Informed programs are very different from our Mystical ones. This particular methodology serves as a more contemporary approach to Yogic education, even though we still cover, cherish, and honor Yogic history as well as the sacred character of these ancient practices.
Our Trauma-Informed Yoga education serves as a link between eastern philosophy and western psychology, in our opinion. As a result, we have people who are interested in sharing Yoga in both conventional and unconventional contexts, such as therapy, hospitals, schools, jails, addiction treatment facilities, and domestic violence shelters, among others.
With an emphasis on choice, consent, and empowerment, the training equips learners to teach yoga poses that encourage self-healing, resilence, and self-control. Instructors may make a welcome and healing atmosphere for all students, including those who have suffered trauma, by completing the Trauma-Informed Yoga curriculum with School Yoga Institute. The participants teaching skills are improved, and the yoga community as a whole grows closer and more compassionate thanks to this certification.
Due to the sensitive subject matter covered on these programs around traumatic events, mental health, addiction, disordered eating, etc. we have created a more in-depth screening process to ensure participants are ready and supported for the journey that is a trauma-informed Yoga Teacher Training.
We advise our participants to have at least a baseline foundation of inner work as well as therapeutic outlets available outside of the program container if needed. We want to make it as clear as possible that these offerings are not a replacement for therapy. While there is time built in for reflection and exercises that contribute to inner revelation and contemplation, it is imperative that participants view the program as a professional endeavor and not a time to process or unpack personal trauma histories.
“TELL ME, WHAT IS IT YOU PLAN TO DO WITH YOUR
ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?”
- Mary Oliver
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