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Now at Mindsight: Trauma Informed Yoga

What is Trauma Informed Yoga (TIY)?

First let’s start with some specifics:

Trauma affects the brain and throws off the mind/body balance. Trauma-informed yoga creates new neural pathways to reconnect the mind and body. After a trauma, we often dissociate while remaining in a trauma response, experiencing feelings of fear when we are not dissociating or distracting ourselves.

Trauma informed yoga implements a compassionate lens when considering our bodies, minds, and experiences - rather than the critical lens through which we so often see.

With that shift, along with various yoga asanas (poses) and positive affirmations, TIY has the capacity of rewiring our brains and bodies to become more in touch with our daily surroundings in a mindful manner. Rather than grieving over the past or worrying about the future, TIY allows us to get in touch with our body’s mobility and untapped abilities to offer ourselves respite and peace in the present moment.

In this, we are creating a ripple effect that waves out into our everyday lives and social systems; in time, with weekly TIY practice, we may notice we no longer react as intensely in stressful situations. We respond with more mindfulness and experience less emotionally strained interactions.

Physically, TIY is often a more slow-going yoga class than usual. TIY introduces certain poses and movements that have the ability to release stored trauma memories and old tensions from our bodies.

Like any yoga class, Trauma Informed Yoga classes may allow or cause blocked memories or emotions to be released from our bodies. That being said, crying or laughing for what may seem like no reason may occur. This is our body's way of relishing in catharsis; a purging of emotions, an emotional release.

Yoga helps us recognize time and rhythm when we have lost track of time and gotten out of rhythm. TIY offers us the reminder that we can recognize and celebrate small victories as we hold poses gently. Research has shown that a weekly practice of yoga has multiple physical and mental health benefits.

Best-selling author, Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD., reminds us that yoga “re-establishes a sense of time and helps people to safely experience themselves…yoga makes it possible for people to feel things they are afraid to feel.” Additionally, Van Der Kolk’s research shows that a steady yoga practice for a traumatized person is more effective than any medication studied. Find out more about this here. 

Who Needs TIY?

Anyone interested in yoga can sign up for a regular yoga class in their area or online - but trauma informed yoga offers something a bit different; for those who has been through trauma or who has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, or major depressive disorder, trauma informed yoga offers a judgment free space where the trauma that has been stored in the body can be released through mindful and repetitive movements.

How is a TIY Yoga Class Different From a Typical Yoga Class?

While you will notice some common yoga poses, there are also added elements of trauma informed care in place. This gives us a calm space and the opportunity to experience feelings in our bodies. The client sets the pace of experiencing the feelings in their body in a non judgmental environment.

TIY offers a bit of time before and after class for questions and comments related to your experience and class content.

TIY classes inform clients to ensure that they are in an environment where they feel most comfortable and where they will not be interrupted. Current classes include a 10-15 minute discussion, 30 minutes of trauma informed yoga, and 10-15 minutes to discuss thoughts, feelings, questions, or concerns.

During this, a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach or other treatment modality will be implemented.

What Will I Need for Class?

Different bodies have different mobilities. We will be encouraging ourselves to listen to our bodies. We will be using modifications to suit ourselves. For these modifications, we may need a strap, belt, or towel.

Otherwise, we will need a yoga mat, water, a chair, a pillow, and perhaps a small blanket for comfort and support. Additionally, if you already have yoga blocks and a bolster, those can often come in handy. Wearing nonrestrictive or comfortable clothing is also recommended.

Where Are We Doing This?

Mindsight Clinician, Laura Cooper, is a Trauma Informed Yoga Teacher who offers TIY classes via Zoom for your convenience.

How Do We Get Started?

Get in touch with Mindsight at 606-401-2966 to schedule an intake so that Laura can have a chance to ensure TIY appears to be a good fit for your mental health needs.

Please check with your primary care physician before beginning any yoga practice to assure that you are safe to begin a yoga practice.

Thanks for reading & take care!

Laura Cooper, CSW, MSSW, TCADC, TIYT, is an open-minded, hot-tea loving therapist and trauma-informed Yogafit teacher. While actively immersing herself in assisting her clients in reaching their mental health treatment plan goals, she also makes time for her own yoga practice and emerging yoga business daily. Laura loves to help others recognize that small and gentle changes in our daily lives can, in time, have big results.

What's Next?

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