I will be upfront and say this was quite a departure from my usual anatomy, philosophy and flow based workshops and I had some trepidation going in that I wouldn't be a good fit for this topic. But, this was the next class in line on my list of classes from YogaFit (my A-type personality has me marching down the line for the 200/500 training's), and yoga is about learning to work outside ones comfort zone. So, I signed up.
This was, simply, outstanding! You don't have to be working directly with trauma victims in a trauma specific to benefit from this session. Bottom line - nearly everyone in our society is coping with some kind of mental or physical trauma and you will never know what that is. This class raises your awareness of how you can structure your language, your class setting, and some of your actions to accommodate someone who is coping with trauma and PTSD. It's the little things that can make a HUGE difference.
From the YogaFit site:
This trauma-sensitive yoga workshop zeros in on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Trauma Brain Injury (TBI), the longterm effects each one has on the mind, body, and spirit, and how yoga can bring relief. Anyone suffering from trauma—military men and women, and their families; first responders; victims of violence or abuse—as well as the mental health professionals working with them will benefit from this two-day intensive.
- Polyvagal theory, the significance of the vagus nerve in trauma, and the role that yoga plays in its ability to function well
- The sympathetic nervous system’s role in understanding PTSD and trauma-related stress response
- Specific psoas release exercises, breathing techniques, slower movement, guided imagery, and meditation practices designed to release trauma stored in the body
- How the language we use as teachers affects our students on a neurological and cellular level
- How to use YogaFit’s transformational language specifically for this population to facilitate a deeper release of stress
Class began by discussing the Bhagavad Gita and Arjuna's conundrum on the eve of battle and the right way to live (dharma). We then segwayed into what it means to be in the military, to live with someone in the military or know someone in the military - basically the expectations of military culture. I was a bit surprised here when I was the only one in class with intimate knowledge on what it was to be in the military and live with someone who was in the military.
We broke down what PTSD is, how it develops, symptoms, and treatments as it relates to the military, but really, these can occur in so many other situations so the application is multifold.
We discussed Traumatic Brain Injury - what it is, causes, and who's at risk.
We read an interview between a Dr. Stephan Porges in the Polyvagal theory by Ravi Dykema.
Then we got into what we can bring to a class, such as:
- Bottom-up processing, that uses slower, more methodical movements to help people feel in control of their bodies so they can self regulate reactions.
- Observe Orient Decide Act Loops
- Tapping or Emotional Freedom Techinque (EFT)
- Yoga Nidra
- Creating safe space - this one was extremely helpful and I've incorporated some small items into my regular classes.
Some notables that I took away and some I've already been doing - let people know I'm going to walk around and pick up the blocks as they settle into deep relaxation at the end of class, give permission for self care of any kind, be mindful of how loud the music is, options - lots of options!
To reiterate, I would strongly recommend this session for any instructor.
If you find you want to delve deeper into trauma-sensitive yoga training, YogaFit does offer a Warrior Training tract, along with a Warrior Kids option.