Sanford Yoga and Community Center — A Trauma Informed Yoga Studio
We have all been here:
We are on our yoga mats, breathing through the mind stuff, just trying not to walk out of the room when the teacher comes over to us and leans their entire weight onto your already shaky ground.
What do you do?
You; A. tell them kindly that you do not want to be touched or B. let it happen and possibly risk being completely triggered.
I know from my own experience I fell into the B category, not feeling like I had the autonomy to speak up for myself, so I let my body feel unsafe. But here is the message: yoga is a practice centered around creating personal agency and creating a safe connection to your body.
And this message is starting to be heard by the masses, we are calling it Trauma Informed Yoga.
Trauma Informed Yoga
Yoga described by Patanjali, an ancient sage and some to be the forefather of yoga, describes yoga as an eight limb path that is an all encompassing lifestyle. The first two limbs are what is known as the yamas and the niyamas and together they lay out 10 guidelines of “ethical” or “righteous” living for the seeker. The first tenet of the yamas is ahimsa or nonviolence, non harm.
It is the responsibility of the practitioner to take these as vows for their own wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of those around them. And our yoga teachers are at the helm of holding these principles as standards for all to see.
With ahimsa at the forefront of the teachers mind, a trauma informed class is one that promotes a feeling of safety, support, and inclusivity for practitioners.
Safe, Supportive, and Inclusive
A trauma informed teacher is not going to “spiritually bypass” any of your emotions, experiences, or physical sensations coming up on your mat. In fact, a trauma informed teacher is going to act as a guide that walks alongside you through your suffering.
They stand with you, encouraging you to tune inward instead of running from your dark side.
This is meant to:
Create clarity in the mind, thus informing your decision making process
Connect your mind to your body, improving your body awareness and feeling safe in your body again
Foster a sense of agency, they are going to be a mirror that reveals your inner power to yourself
Because a trauma informed teacher doesn’t care how the asana looks (they will make sure you are physically safe) because they know that the physical sensations of the asana create and what you are experiencing is far more healing than nailing salamba sirsana (headstand).
What To Look For
Here are some other ways you know you are in a trauma informed space or class:
Either there are no physical adjustments or permission to be adjusted is asked for
There is low to no stimulation meaning there aren’t diffusers blasting scents, there aren't candles, the lights create a soft but lit atmosphere, if there is music it is soothing and calming.
The instructors use a soothing, calm voice. They do not assert themselves beyond queuing the asana, they make you feel safe and supported.
The instructor teaches from the mat giving adequate anatomical ques and letting the student follow their lead. They also give plenty of options for all body types, as well as, use invitational language
Sanford Yoga and Community Center is a safe space where you can come, heal, breathe, and be free to experience this present moment outside of the trauma that causes suffering. If you are interested in taking a class with us, book here.
I personally know the effects of childhood trauma and how impactful trauma filters through your life. I also know firsthand how beneficial yoga can be to restoring balance within your body/mind connection and that allows me to find contentment even amidst suffering.