Let’s start at the beginning, what is trauma? Here’s one definition, “Trauma arises when one’s human immobility responses do not resolve: that is, when one cannot make the transition back to normal life, and the immobility reaction becomes chronically coupled with fear and other intense negative emotions such as dread, revulsion and helplessness. The physical sensations of immobility by themselves evoke further fear” (Levine, 2010 p21).
You may think of trauma as being something that only war veterans and emergency responders experience and that your experience of trauma is not as important or ‘worthy’ as theirs. It’s true that many of the studies we read seem to centre around men and women diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, so, if you don’t have an ‘official’ diagnosis yourself then do you need trauma sensitive yoga? The answer might surprise you. Most people reading this blog will have experienced trauma. That trauma could stem from abuse, violence, witnessing the death of a loved one or being in a life threatening situation (including serious illness). This list is by no means complete and there are many life events that leave us traumatised, none of which are more or less valid than the other. Some of the observable impacts of trauma include: persistent intrusions of memories related to the trauma that interfere with other incoming information, flashbacks and dissociation, generalised problems with attention, nightmares and a general numbing of responsiveness. There are many reasons why yoga as part of a treatment protocol is effective in reducing trauma. One of the reasons is that trauma is stored in the body, visceral responses to trauma can include an increase in heart rate, shaking, crying, and intense feelings of discomfort in the belly. Yoga works slowly and gently encouraging us to feel into our bodies without becoming overwhelmed by sensations. Postures have a beginning and an end and you can choose whether to stay in that posture, move in and out of it, or not do it at all. Combined with a gentle breath, yoga allows the mus