An important discovery
I'd been teaching for years before I stumbled across trauma-sensitive yoga. I'm not sure what inspired me to attend that first training, but it opened my eyes to exactly the kind of practice I need for myself and am drawn to offer others. I'll say more about that in a future post. In the meantime, I want to share just four things that make the movement practices on the Moved to Heal podcast trauma-sensitive.
Whether in the description or the cueing of a movement, or both, I offer more than one choice for all forms and actions. For example, when I offer a movement in a cross-legged seat, you could also lie down or stand up or sit another way. Or if I’m inviting you to lift and lower your arms, you could choose to lift + hold, or not lift, or do another movement with your arms. I offer a form with an action (a movement) and one or two or three options for you to consider. You can choose to do one of the choices offered or something else that you want to do. The choice for how to move your body is always yours.
In many fitness and yoga classes alike, movements are instructed in such a way that most of us will feel compelled to follow --even if it's not what feels good or safe or right to us. Sometimes, "following" can be what you want --say to help you get through a difficult workout that you want to do, and know you're comfortable with. But at other times, that kind of instruction is less a help and more of a hindrance, getting in the way of listening to ourselves -- of noticing what we need in the moment. Noticing and being able to choose what we need, knowing that's ok, is essential to healing traumas and hurts of all kinds. Trauma-sensitive classes offer movements for you to try (or not try) and invite you to engage with them in the way that you want in the moment (including not at all).
I regularly invite you to notice whether you feel anything during a practice or movement. I invite you to bring attention to sensation, breathing, and choices. The intention is to allow you to develop a greater awareness of yourself, your body, and what you need moment to moment. Some days, sensation might be just sensation. Some days, sensation might be a revelation. There are no expectations, simply attempting to be in the present moment. You can always choose how to make use of invitations to observe and notice. Where you direct your attention is up to you.
Through invitations to move, choosing when and how to move, and noticing yourself in the present moment, you might also choose to experiment with multiple options of movements or observations. When you feel curious about a movement in your body, you can try it out, knowing you then can choose whether or not to continue with it. Experiments might be trying a new movement or observation, or they could be trying out slight changes in familiar movements or observations, comparing and discovering different ways of doing things.
If one or more of these aspects of trauma-sensitive teaching sound useful to you, I hope you'll keep an eye out for movement classes and teachers that include them in some way (namely, in a way that resonates with you!). And if you go into a class or space where what you need is missing, maybe move on to a different class.
If all of these qualities sound valuable to you --choice, invitation, noticing, and gentle experiments-- I invite you to tune in to Moved to Heal!
Be moving, be true, be you
photo credit paul blenkhorn / sensory art house, found on unsplash