Teaching Yoga with a Trauma Informed Lens Video

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!

Remembrance and Reclamation Through Yoga

The records of my recovery always seem to surface in the weeks leading up to my anniversary through body aches, animal dreams, escalated emotion and a simultaneous mix of an anxious mind and the lethargy of sorrow’s memory. While not entirely productive, this natural release of endorphin mixed with heartache softens the edges around this waxing phase. I’m reminded once again of the unconscious organizing of my annual calendar around my anniversary in which the other 364 days are either all the days leading up to it, or all the days the follow.

This reflection on the significance of my anniversary has been a work in subconscious progress over the past few years, slowly distilled through my journey on the mat and captured for a moment in a poem. My attempt to memorialize loss emanates from my explorations with a yoga teacher who unveiled an enlightening approach to philosophy, intuition, energy, meditation and the syncing of oneself with the organic animation of the body. She essentially revolutionized my inner experience of myself – in my asana practice, and more importantly in my life – and she brought me back to my beginner’s mind where everything is possible. This daily practice serves me as a human and particularly as a survivor. There are endless options for how we find the balance required to remain present and simultaneously build the energy to move forward – no matter how many times we fail, no matter how deep our wound. Yoga refines our ability to recognize our own resilience.

Read more here.