Skip to main content

New Service: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga. What Is It? Why Are You Offering Yoga at a Therapist's Office!?

 Hi Everyone! Long time, no blog. I wanted to provide an update about a new service that I'm offering: trauma-sensitive yoga. This past year, I've been up to lots of things, but my focus has primarily been on obtaining my yoga teacher certification. Why, you ask? What business does a therapist have offering yoga classes to the public? Well, lots of reasons.

 First and foremost, have you seen the research out there about yoga and mental health? It's pretty compelling. In his book The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van der Kolk talks about how trauma has real physical effects on our bodies. Folks with trauma disorders or anxiety disorders are more likely to suffer from chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, insomnia, fatigue, unexplained headaches, stomach aches, and chest pain, and a general feeling of disconnection from their bodies. Heart rate variability (HRV), the tiny fluctuations between our heartbeats, is also affected by trauma. When our autonomic nervous system (the part of our nervous system that slows us down and helps us feel relaxed) is well balanced, we have a reasonable ability to manage our emotions when faced with a stressor. But when our autonomic nervous system is out of whack due to trauma or anxiety, our HRV also becomes out of whack, leading to poorer ability to bounce back from stressful situations. What's all this got to do with yoga, you ask? Yoga helps improve our HRV, and in turn, heal our nervous systems (p.

Yoga offers an amazing opportunity to help trauma-survivors, people with anxiety, and those in recovery, to address the physical effects of these concerns and reconnect to their bodies. Most of us know yoga as a physical practice, or asana in Sanskrit. However, this is only a very small portion of what yoga is. Yoga also involves breath work, or pranayama, and meditation. This focus on breathing and meditation helps us to activate our parasympathetic nervous systems as we move our bodies throughout the practice. We create small amounts of stress in our bodies, and then breathe through it, staying present in the discomfort. This helps increase our distress tolerance, and strengthen our nervous systems. It's sort of like a workout for your nervous system. 

On the topic of nervous systems, we can't talk about the physical effects of trauma without talking at least a little bit about the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is this really long nerve that runs down our torso from our brain stem. It's responsible for communicating any signs of threats to our brain. It's sort of like a watchdog for our nervous system. When we practice yoga, we "tone" the vagus nerve, improving it's ability to switch between the sympathetic nervous system (the part that goes, "hey, this is really dangerous, let's switch into fight/flight/freeze mode) and our parasympathetic nervous system (the part that says, hey wait, we're not actually in danger, this is just a little uncomfortable. Let's breathe and get through it). Better vagal tone means better ability to regulate your emotions and recover from stressful situations. Yoga supports a healthy vagal tone. 

So, there you have it. This is what makes yoga a wonderful supplement to traditional treatment for trauma and anxiety. So what's trauma-sensitive yoga, then? What makes a yoga class trauma-sensitive? While any practice of yoga will provide these benefits, a trauma-sensitive yoga class has a focus on healing and the mental health benefits of yoga. A trauma-sensitive yoga teacher has knowledge of just how impactful trauma can be to the body, and how uncomfortable it can be to be in your body when you're experiencing the effects of such conditions. In a trauma-sensitive yoga class, things move at your pace. There's no pressure or focus on getting "the right pose" or obtaining any sort of flexibility or strength level. The focus is on just being present in your body, exploring sensations in your body, learning how to breathe through uncomfortable (but not painful) sensations, feeling safe in your body, and taking ownership of your body again. There's no physical hands-on assist given unless it's expressly consented to, and there's opportunity to process what you might be experiencing during class. It's a powerful practice to help rebuild the mind-body connection and create a healthier relationship with  your body. 

I hope this was a helpful explanation to how excited I am to be offering this service. If you'd like to try a trauma-sensitive yoga class with me, you can sign up here:

LIVE STREAMING also available if you can't make it to the space. 

I'll also be offering a Yoga for Mental Health and Wellness workshop on November 17, 2022 at 5:30. 

Looking forward to sharing yoga with you all.




Popular posts from this blog

Navigating Romantic Relationships with a Mental Health Diagnosis

Relationships are complicated. Mental health issues are complex. Put the two together, and things can get real, really quick. Since we are nearing Valentine's Day, let's talk about juggling dating and romance--while navigating your own mental health. Mental Health Issues Make Dating More Stressful Dating is stressful for everyone. Having jitters before a first date, or wondering when to text is nerve-racking. For those who suffer with depression and anxiety, you might go into over-thinking mode, wondering if you screwed up, or feeling like you're not good enough. Mental health conditions can turn the volume of dating stress up to 10. Having an arsenal of effective coping tools is key. Finding relaxation and grounding techniques that work for you can help offset anxiety that is worsened by putting yourself out there. Deciding If You're Ready to Date Struggling with mental health issues is no small feat. It can be a daily struggle. Adding intimacy and a relationsh

I'm Turning 34. Here's 34 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago.

 It's my birthday! Happy birthday to me! :)  I love birthdays. I love to pack the whole month of October full of festivities. My family and friends will tell you that I'm a little over the top when it comes to birthdays, but I can't help it! It's a time for celebration and reflection.  Today, I turn 34 years old. I'd like to publicly reflect on a list of 34 things I wish I'd known 10 years ago. Just a few life lessons. I'd like to share these with you because, as a therapist, I know how healing it can be to practice reflections like this, and I want to share a little wisdom that I'd like to impart to my younger self. I hope you find these lessons resonate with you, too.  1. You, in fact, can trust yourself 2. Grounding yourself before you react to something upsetting ensures you remain in control, rather than your emotions.  3. Diets don’t work, and they ruin your relationship with food and your body.  4. Therapy is one of the most useful tools available

Five Things I Most Often Say to My Therapy Clients

I've been working in the mental health field now since 2013. I've finally hit my 10 year mark! "Am I bonafide yet?" I ask my imposter syndrome. Over the last ten years, I've hit some gems that seem to resonate with almost everyone. I find myself repeating these things to clients over and over again- sometimes to the same client! If you've worked with me before, these have probably come up in our sessions. I think there's a reason these things get repeated-- because they are important things we all need to pay attention to.  So, here's my top 5 things I most often say to my clients:  1. Breathe When in doubt, breathe. The more we can tune into our bodies and our breath, the more regulated we become. Our breath is the fastest, most accessible, easiest way to get into our bodies and still our nervous systems. We take breath work for granted so often, but it is such a beautiful skill to learn and practice.  2. Where do you feel that in your body?  I've