April 13, 2020
Here at Repose we throw that word around a lot. Being trauma-informed is imbedded in all that we do around here, so the yoga practices we offer are thoroughly trauma informed as well.
So what does that even mean? What makes yoga at Re.Pose “trauma informed”?
TIY includes 3 principles: SAFETY, PREDICTABILITY, and CHOICE.
When we experience trauma, those pieces were taken away from us, so trauma informed practices aim to insert those pieces back into our experience and especially into our bodies.
Physical and Emotional Safety is the foundation of TIY. When our bodies feel safe, they have the freedom to explore new experiences, emotionally and physically. This might look like using props to support you in a shape, maintaining a steady breath in shapes so when you locate, flex and stretch a muscle, it may feel like strength instead of fear. It also may look like allowing whatever emotion that arises to have its expression. It’s ok to have anger, it’s ok to feel sadness, it’s ok to feel like not feeling.
All spectrums of physical shapes and emotions are welcome – to hopefully help each participant feel like they can be safe to be themselves.
Repose Yoga aims to be predictable. You can expect that when you come to a class, the structure of the class will be similar each time: a grounding exercise, moving with breath, exploring physical shapes, a resting time and time to reflect at the end. Even within the class, each shape is predictable – ensuring that everyone knows how long each shape will be held, by breaths or by counting down so that each of us can know, shape by shape, that our experiences have an ending, they are not permanent. The teacher will always explain what they’re doing when they’re doing it. (When they walk across the room, adjust the lights, open or shut the door) to provide a predictable, safe environment to connect with your body.
Overarching the whole experience of TIY is CHOICE.
When we experience trauma, no matter the kind or severity, our choice has been taken away. TIY is a place where we all can practice having choice being returned to us. In each class, in each shape, you will have the choice to participate or not, to hold a shape longer or shorter or not. You are given the opportunity, all throughout the class, to check in what YOU actually want and choose it for YOU.
You get to have agency, you get to be the boss of your body, no one else.
As TIY teachers, we endeavour to create a safe, predictable, and choice filled experience for you in the hopes that you can begin or continue to foster a compassionate connection to your body, experiencing your body as your ally and a resource when difficult times arise.
WHY DO WE NEED TIY NOW?
The truth is, whether we’ve admitted it or not, we are all experiencing a global, communal traumatic event right now.
If the definition of trauma is “any unexpected event that threatens our physical or emotional safety, that can be experienced or observed” we’re all in it, and we’re all in it together.
COVID 19 is a threat to our physical safety, the mandates for physical distancing and isolation have taken our choices away and we never know day to day how those mandates will change, what will be different, and what will be the same. There hasn’t been much predictability lately and that can really throw us into chaos.
To add to that, for every one message our brain/mind sends to our bodies, our bodies sends 9 messages back – so chances are, however much our minds feel like they’re flooded, our bodies might be feeling it nine times more!!
So, in order to help calm our minds, worries etc, it might be helpful then, to start with our bodies, since they actually have a lot more to say.
Yoga is a body practice. And since our bodies hold our emotions, emotions might arise during yoga. Trauma informed yoga can be compassionate, kind, gentle way to get to know our bodies, get to know what emotions they hold, and perhaps create a relationship with your body that is safe, predictable, choice-filled and kind, in the midst of time in our life where those are harder to come by.
We might not have much safety, predictability and choice around us right now, TIY can help us facilitate safety, predictability and choice with ourselves. Seems like a good place to start.