“In every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.”
A “trauma sensitive” yoga class is taught very differently from the yoga class with which we are usually familiar. A typical yoga class may not be comfortable or relaxing to a trauma survivor and in fact may feel dangerous and scary. A trauma survivor can be an adult survivor of childhood abuse, a domestic violence survivor, a survivor of sexual assault, someone who was in a horrible accident, or a returning soldier with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is the recognized authority on PTSD and heads The Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. He has said that, “the goal of treatment of PTSD is to help people live in the present without feeling or behaving according to demands belonging to the past.” You can read Dr. van der Kolk’s interview How Yoga helps Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder .
The Trauma Center has begun to establish empirically that yoga is helpful for people with PTSD (van der Kolk, 2006). Along with feedback such as, “I feel like I can use my body again,” the groundbreaking study that the Trauma Center conducted in 2004 showed that yoga changes core brain physiology related to PTSD and trauma. Their research shows that yoga is an adjunct to talk therapy, noting that talk therapy can only go so far because it is “head centered” rather than “body centered”. A trauma survivor or someone with PTSD sometimes feels “disconnected” from their body and yoga is a means that brings body and mind together.
Medical researchers and neuroscientists are finally catching up to what the ancient yogis knew — that yoga heals and yoga is a path to personal transformation. The Trauma Center’s research has shown that a 10 week session of trauma sensitive yoga produces measurable results. Their research has shown for the first time that yoga effects core physiology, namely Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which is associated with PTSD.
To participate in Metta Yoga’s Trauma Sensitive Yoga classes, I ask that the Trauma Center’s protocols be followed:
- Because strong emotions may arise in a body-centered practice such as yoga, you must also be working with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. You, your counselor, and myself will work together as a team.
- You must continue with any medication you are taking.
- No hospitalization for any psychological issues within the last six months.
- No active psychosis.
Metta Yoga’s Trauma Sensitive yoga classes are 60 to 75 minutes long. If you prefer one-on-one private yoga, please see this page for pricing — sliding scale is available when needed and discounts are available when signing up for 4 or more classes.
Otherwise, small group classes are now forming for domestic violence/sexual assault survivors: three student minimum required; sliding scale payment; ongoing sessions. Call 630.677.4501 for available days/evenings.