Traumasensibles Yoga (with 🇬🇧 subtitles)

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Hello my dears. I’ve prepared a video about trauma sensitive yoga for you. I’d like to explain to you what a trauma is and talk about the differences between traumasensitive yoga and regular classes. I bought a book, so if someone is really interested in this topic, I’ve got a lot of information from the book. I can imagine really well that if we start to teach yoga classes with many people, there will be for sure some students with trauma experiences. That’s why I’d like to some educational work because it is really near to my heart, that we can better understand the traumatized people, that we feel more safe and know how to react when a yoga student has a flashback or shows any kind of trauma response. At the beginning I’d like to start by explaining the definition of trauma Is trauma the situation which happened in the past? Yes and No. Two people can experience the same event and only one of them gets traumatized and develops PTSD. And how is that possible? It’s because trauma is very, very individual. Trauma has to do with this (individualities), it has to do with coping skills from the brain and the person itself Which means, when your brain is so overwhelmed by the current situation and there is no chance to deal with the situation nor a chance to classify this situation in the usual categories and because of this it’s completely overwhelmed and confused: This can cause a trauma. Trauma is much more than a story about something that happened long ago The emotions and physical sensations that were imprinted during the trauma are experienced not as memories but as disruptive physical reactions in the present That imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. Trauma results in a fundamental reorganization of the way mind and body manage perceptions. We already listened to the presentation obout the nervous system I persume all of us heard about “fight or flight”-reactions once before. But what happens when neither fight nor flight work? What happens when danger verges on you What happens when this situation of stress comes but you can’t escape it by fleeing and you can’t escape by fighting against it? Freeze It’s like when you are in the green area it means that you are well grounded. Like when we are all sitting in a cross-legged position in our yoga class. feeling our bottom on the ground and feeling connected to ourselves and the people around us: This is the green area. But when suddenly the tiger appears that starts chasing us, our energy and the level of arousal increase. Then, all our thoughts start spiraling palms are getting sweaty you start getting this fidgety feeling or maybe even start reacting more annoyed then usual. You just get into the “fight or flight” – mode. We want to leave the situation Maybe a memory comes to the surface during the mediation Something triggers you and we notice all the e.g anger Now we are in the red area, We’re no longer grounded and can sit down with ease. We become unsettled and want to get up Maybe critical thoughts arise and we start criticizing ourselved and the ones around us. When we’re in the green area, when we’re content with ourselvbes, we don’t even feel the need to criticize anyone. That’s something that everybody already experienced at some point. That’s completly normal. All these three states are completly normal. And the way the human organism reacts to a traumatic event is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. That is extremly important: It’s a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. If a traumatic event would occur, the survival energy, the level of arousal would increase and it comes to a peek-point where the organism is just completly overwhelmed and can not cope anymore. It’s like a lightning stroke and the curve which displays the level of arousal would drop to the lowest point. It would even drop under the green area. I will call it the “black area” Our arousal level is even higher than the red area, but because the body can’t hold it anymore, it shows this play-dead reflex to prevent further serious damage. Freeze. In wildlife you could observe animals randomly shake and quiver The body of the animal is shaking to release all the energy. We already did that when we practised e.g certain Kundalini exercises, Animals do that completly intuitively and instinctively. It’s a completly normal reaction only we, as humans unlearned it because of social conditioning. “It looks weird, we don’t do that.” Actually, that is the healthiest reaction ever. Shaking out the stress and the trauma energy can even prevent PTSD. What is a trigger? We heard a few times “If something triggers you, find out what it is, understand it and learn to embrace it.” But what is a trigger? Triggers can be literally everything and anything. It can be a certain smell, certain people, certain movements, a certain light situation, a certain kind of touch, a certain word. Maybe a person who is not traumatized does not understand why a traumatized person suddenly shows “inappropriate behaviour”, because you’ve e.g practised a certain asana (yoga posture) which reminded the yoga student of a traumatic experience in the past because you turned off the light during shavasana (end relaxation) because the person on the next yoga mat is a man because a certain smell which was supposed to be relaxing was put in an air diffusor and triggered a trauma response. And suddenly a person in the yoga studio starts crying and you, as a yoga teacher are just utterly confused. It does NOT mean that you did something wrong. I’d like to read a passage from this book. Often times, the traumatized people want to talk about what happened to them. They try to find a way to release all the tension, the stress and the energy that they’re holding inside. They try to soothe themselved by doing that. Unfortunately, sometimes talking about the trauma can make it even worse. Maybe they get reminded of even more details while talking. Traumatized people also tend to get pulled into a “trauma vortex”. One thing triggers them and then it starts and you’re basically sucked into the past and they can have a really hard time to stop this automatic pattern. And if you continue to talk and talk and talk, maybe you’ll feel better afterwards, but almost certainly, you’ll end up feeling even more tense. I find that a beautiful example for how if we come back to our example for earlier, the yogateacher was well grounded in the “green area” and she calmly stood on her feet in Tadasana (mountain posture). At the beginning the student was still really excited and wanted to release the energy by talking about her past. Maybe that would have helped, maybe not. We don’t know. By synchronizing their breaths, they managed to arrive on the same level. Both were now in the green, calm area. I find it so beautiful to see how this yogateacher treated her triggered student. She had her strategies: Breathing together and looking eachother in the eyes. Eye contact is crucial. When you’re triggered, when you’re in the midset of a flashback, then you’re more in the past then in the present. You’re very disconnected and detached from your surroundings. A part of you is still living in the traumatic past. You’re in the red area, you’re no longer in the red area. The well regulated, grounded green area is linked to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve runs through the body, from the brain to the stomach. It can be stimulated and activated by social engagement. Your dysregulated nervous system can become more regulated by the help of another better regulated nervous system. Yoga can help with that. Experiences like that can… If you’ve been through trauma you no longer have a feeling of internal safety. Your sense of being at home in your body gets destroyed by the trauma. You lose control over your body. Your body feels like the enemy. It feels like your body is working against you. If you’d go to a triggered person and say “It’s not that bad. Pull yourself together.” If you try to rationalize their fear.. it just won’t work. When a traumatized human gets triggerd, the amygdala (emotional alarm bell of the brain) takes over. This part of the brain does not differentiate between past and present. A timeline simply no longer exists. It does not thing “Oh, what scares me does not belong in the present. It belongs in the past.” That does not work in this moment. The threat, the danger is NOW. Breathing together, standing together. Regaining a feeling of internal safety, that is what really helps. Why traumasensitive yoga? What is the difference between traumasensitive yoga and regular, not trauma-informed yoga? There’s a big focus on the presence and awareness in the “here and now” instead of the “there and then”. When it comes to yoga, this always plays a big role. For traumatized humans this is even more significant. Their bodies, their nervous systems can finally learn that the danger is over. The amygdala can finally get some rest. The neocortex (responsible for making rational decisions and processing events) gets activated again. The feeling of internal safety can replace the hypervigilance (constant checking for danger). If you haven’t yet processed your trauma, your whole system is still “on alert”. Trauamsensitive yoga can help to create a mindful relationship to the body. As I already said, the body can often feel like the enemy because it shows all these symptoms that the traumatized individual does not understand. Understanding and making sense of the trauma responses shows can help to make peace with the body. Self regulation. Expanding the window of tolerance. That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned the red and the green area. The window of tolerance is the green area, the one between the red and the black area. The red area potrays a state of “too much energy”, it is hyperaroused. The black area is hypoaroused, it’s “too less energy”. Freeze. You’re not present in your body, it’s feeling like you have no feelings at all. Numbness. By practising yoga you can expand the window of tolerance. You learn to tolerate body sensations and emotions. Your body learns to be able to cope with them. Self-regulation The student in the red area and the teacher in the green area could approach eachother by breathing together. That’s called co-regulation. If the student is able to soothe themselve, then that’s called self-regulation. By practising the things they learnt in the yoga class alone at home, e.g breathwork. By sitting down and bringing the awareness to the connection of the body and the ground. By practising certain asanas (body postures) or doing some breathing exercises. When you’re living in a world of trauma you don’t want to experiment and try new things. The brain is designed for survival and surviving is all that matters when your trauma is still unprocessed. There’s no space for curiosity, experimenting with new asanas e.g pincha (forearm stand). I have no clue how to translate this 😀 Yoga can help you to become more curious, to want to try new things and to grow. Making new experiences. It can start with very simple things During the meditation you can decide whether you want to place your left hand in your right hand or the right in the left one. Do I want to turn the palms of my hands up or down? I decide whether I want to do chaturanga (low plank) or practise knee-chest-chin. This can strengthen the belief in the personal self-efficacy. You realize that you are in control over your body. You can make a change. If you notice that you’re cold, you can get a jacket or a blanket. You realize that you can change something. For sure that can improve the feeling of self-worth. By that shame can decrease. Shame is so deeply connected to trauma. I already mentioned “grounding” so many times. Aromatherapy, e.g lavender can also help you feel more grounded. You can also practise a chakra meditation and focus on your root chakra. It is associated with courage, stability and safety. This feeling of internal safety is what traumatized people are lacking and missing. That’s why this is such a sensitive chakra for traumatized people. And it is so precious to clear and heal it. Another really important topic: Hands-On Assists. Depending on which kind of trauma you experienced, assists that include touching the body can be really, really challenging and even triggering. I saw a nice picture with cards that say “yes hands, no hands” The student does not even have to say beforehand whether he wants to be adjusted or not. These cards could be e.g placed at the entry and everyone can take one. Those who do not struggle with being touched they may not even need one. And those who struggle with being physically adjusted can either give the card to the teacher or just put it on their yoga mat. For sure the yoga teacher could just try touching them and give a certain assist without asking. Maybe they would notice that the student’s body suddenly gets really tense. Or just by approaching the student you can see their increasing discomfort. The traumatized people are already chronically stressed and they are going to be grateful for all the stress that you spare them. I find asking for consent has a lot to do with respect and to me it’s just not negotiable. If you know that someone is okay with being touched, let them know what you’re going to do. Tell them “I’m going to touch your leg, your belly, your shoulder.” Always say what you do. That can prevent the student from feeling out of control. “I get touched without permission and I can’t change it.” Remember the fight/flight and especially the freeze response. Maybe the person is still so trapped and stuck in the traumatic past, that she could not even say: “Please don’t do that. Please don’t touch me.” Maybe you wouldn’t even see a reaction. Maybe the person, in a desperate attempt to protect herself, surpresses all her reactions so much that you don’t even see their reaction (discomfort, pain etc.) You might have now successfully adjusted their foot and it’s now in a perfect position but at the same time the person is now feeling extremly unwell. Not only the connection to yourself, also the connection to other people… It does not even have to be a direct face-to-face connection I remember one yoga class when I opened my eyes and saw everyone collectively rising their arms during the warm-up We were all bringing our hands together in prayer in front of the heart. Synchronizing the movements at the beginning of the class, to me it created such a powerful feeling of community. When we’re chanting “Om” together, it makes me feel so connected. And you don’t even have to directly interact with another human which could possibly cause anxiety. These are things that are rather easy to learn and they can simply make you feel more safe. You can notice that you can do something and nothing bad will happen. Just to realize that it is okay to take up space. When you survived trauma you want to take up as less space as possible. You don’t want to be in your body You would just prefer not to be there, not to exist at all. And to learn powerful postures like Warrior ll to learn to extend your arms and to bravely look straight over your hands, that creates such a different feeling in your body. (LIFECHANGING!) Maybe these people have never felt like that in their whole lives. It can be so incredibly healing. For everyone. Especially for those with traumatic experiences. Thank you for your attention ♥

 

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