Fight for My Soul Yoga
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY) is an evidence-based treatment for complex trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is used with children, youth, and adults throughout the world. Some participants engage with Trauma Sensitive Yoga as part of a holistic approach to healing from trauma, a complement to their ongoing counseling. And others participate as an extension of their yoga practice. Anyone can participate, regardless of their level of physical abilities and experience. The goal is healing.
Although Trauma Sensitive Yoga employs physical forms and movements, the emphasis is not on the external expression or appearance (i.e. doing it “right”) or receiving the approval of an external authority. Rather, the focus is on the internal experience of the participant. This shift in orientation, from the external to the internal, is a key attribute of Trauma Sensitive Yoga as a complementary treatment for complex trauma and has been empirically validated. With this approach, the power resides within the individual, not the facilitator. (Although it is important to practice with a qualified facilitator.)
Elements of Trauma Sensitive Yoga include:
Evidence-Based Practice: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is an empirically validated, adjunctive clinical treatment for complex trauma or chronic treatment-resistant Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. TSY has foundations in both Trauma Theory and Hatha Yoga with an emphasis on body-based yoga forms and breathing practices.
Sensitive Techniques: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga participants are invited to notice and feel sensations within their bodies throughout the practice. Participants are then encouraged to make choices about what they do and how they move with their bodies based on what they sense. This supports participants to investigate what choice feels supportive for them, taking cues from their own individual experience.
Inquiry-Based Exploration: The approach applies choice and body-centered self-awareness to support a recovery process, a gentle intervention that initiates healing through people regaining a relationship with the present moment and their body. The language used throughout a yoga session is invitational and encourages curiosity to explore what one might feel in different parts of their body based on the form they are choosing to take.
The goal of Trauma Sensitive Yoga is to befriend, reconnect with and feel empowered in your body. In a comfortable and predictable environment, you are invited to notice sensations, experiment with movement and breathing, and practice making choices about what is right for you. Further, by focusing on the felt sense of the body to inform choice-making, Trauma Sensitive Yoga enables participants to restore their connection of mind and body and cultivate a sense of agency that is compromised as a result of trauma.
“Is Trauma Sensitive Yoga right for me?” If you’re asking the question, you may be a good candidate for this approach in healing from trauma within the body. Consult with your counselor or physician before taking a yoga class.
Fight for My Soul Yoga by Leslii Stevens E-RYT200, RYT 500.
I wanted to make a place where it felt like a soft landing, a space of comfort. A soft pillow to rest your whole body on and to start to feel new patterns begin to take shape at a cellular base.
Are experiencing mild dysregulation and struggling to calm down.
Feel disconnected from your body and experience stiffness and muscular tension.
Find regular yoga classes or exercise programs to triggering or inaccessible.
Safety is the key
Trauma-informed yoga classes are all about creating a safe, comfortable and supportive environment to help you reconnect with your body. Very often people who have experienced acute stress or trauma report feeling disconnected from physical sensations. To rebuild this connection, it is absolutely crucial to feel safe. Here are some of the ways I will try to ensure this safety and support in my classes:
Gentle and accessible movement and yoga shapes
The movement and yoga shapes in my trauma-informed classes are quite gentle. They are also accessible for different bodies and abilities. I will never ask you to do something that is too difficult or beyond what your body is capable of at that moment. Moreover, it is my absolute priority to respect your physical limitations and work with them, and never be against them. The purpose of this class is to increase your body awareness and help you understand your physical boundaries. And it’s a gradual process that shouldn’t be rushed.
You have the choice and you are in control
In my trauma-informed yoga classes, I will invite you to try certain shapes or movements instead of telling you what to do. I will keep reminding you that everything is an invitation. So you can always decide whether you want to explore the suggested movement or shape or prefer a different variation. Also, whenever you wish, you can always choose to come out of the shape and rest. This can help you rebuild your sense of self-agency and control over your body. After all, no one knows your body better than you do.
You have the information
Knowing what is happening to you, what is the purpose of the exercise we are doing, or what to expect, helps to feel safer and more empowered. As a trauma-informed yoga facilitator, I try to minimize the risk of confusion or overwhelm during the class. This way, you can fully relax and experience a deeper connection to your body. Often, understanding why we are doing what we are doing makes the action much more meaningful and enjoyable. And it is my responsibility to give you just enough information at the right time without overloading you.
Minimizing potential triggers
Everyone’s nervous system is different and reacts to the same stimuli in a unique way. Here are some things that I will do my best to ensure during the class: low ambient music or no music, no scents, calming lights (whenever possible), calm and clear voice. In an in-person class, I’ll make sure there is a safe distance between. I won’t offer hands-on adjustments unless it’s absolutely required, in which case, I’ll always ask for your consent first. In an online class, you always have permission to keep the camera off if you wish to do so.
You learn the tools of self-regulation
Emotional self-regulation is an invaluable life skill that you can start developing on a yoga mat. You will experience it through connection with the breath and increased body awareness. You’ll learn how to calm yourself down and know how to deal with discomfort. This way you’ll be more equipped and less powerless when faced with emotional and physical distress in your daily life.
What to expect from my private classes?
In my trauma-informed yoga classes, I combine Vinyasa Flow, Yin Yoga, and slow-paced Hatha, Myofascial Release Ball & Foam Rolling. I often alternate between static postures and mindful movement for a more balanced class.
Yin Yoga offers time and a comfortable space to slow down, release physical tension and calm the mind. While gentle Hatha sequences help to build strength and concentration as you work at your own pace. Myofascial Release starts to help work out all the hidden knots, stress, and tension within the muscles. Creating more space within, reducing all that stress and tension, allowing for a better range in motion.
I’ll carefully guide you in and out of the poses and will suggest variations and adjustments for your unique anatomy. Also, the pace, intensity, and structure of the class will depend on your current abilities and needs and will be modified throughout the class whenever required.
Interested in having a private class with me?
At the moment I’m based in Hudson, Mass., and teach online via Zoom.
You can schedule a free 20-minute intro session by sending an email to help me understand your needs and see how I can tailor your classes.
You can always register for one of our group classes here at CoyDog Botanicals & Yoga