There are many reasons why someone who has survived trauma may have difficulty participating in yoga classes. In this video, I focus specifically on the challenges of savasana also known as "corpse pose" which is instructed nearly 100% of the time at the end of a yoga class. It is a posture whose length can vary from a few minutes up to 10 - 15 minutes and asks the practitioner to lay still in a state of relaxation that can border on sleep. Yet, for trauma survivors, it is uniquely challenging to rest deeply or to "let go" due to the nature of trauma and its impact on the physiology of the body, as well as the embodied imprint trauma can leave on the whole person. I recommend that yoga teachers provide alternate options/variations when they teach savasana in order to assist people in remaining grounded and connecting with some level of ease during what might be the most vulnerable component of class.
The insights I share here may also be useful for a survivor of trauma who is hoping to learn alternate ways to finish class with the rest of the group. Importantly, this video affirms survivors in knowing that their bodily responses and needs are very natural reactions to trauma and an innate internal attempt to manage the intensity of what they have survived. Savasana/Corpse pose can become increasingly accessible to trauma survivors over time, through practice, props, identifying variations that work, a yoga sequence that best prepares the nervous system for letting go, soothing music, etc. It is specific to the survivor and can be an interesting exploration to discover what shape and other supports can create the conditions where rest feels soothing. This is a wonderful practice to have in your self-care tool kit, as savasana, and other resting poses can restore the body, balance the nervous system and nourish the soul. This pose is a practice in and of itself, and an incredibly powerful one!