Our focus is providing trauma-sensitive guidelines that can help teachers of general classes be more likely to serve every student. If you are going to teach specifically to address trauma, we highly recommend you get training. In addition, here are a few inspirational notes about how mindful asana and breath practices can be powerful aids in trauma recovery. (See also: How Yoga & Somatic Experiencing Help)
- Breathing practices can be effective tools with trauma recovery, in part because they are excellent energy management tools.
- Trauma-sensitive teaching may focus on asana using teaching cues that help students to get and stay embodied. Clear body-based cues as opposed to energetic cueing, for instance, may be most effective with traumatized students.
- Seated silent meditation can be too uncomfortable for trauma victims and is usually best reserved for after comfort has been achieved with other practices. Mantra practices, moving meditation, body scan, visualizations and Yoga Nidra are potential considerations as an alternative to silent meditation.
According to van der Kolk, Western medicine doesn’t give us many tools to “master our own physiology,” so too many times trauma survivors end up self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as well as prescription drugs. Pranayama can have an energizing or calming effect on the nervous system, he says, and quiet the brain. Soltes adds that the breath can keep survivors in the body. Gentle pranayama that emphasizes the exhalation, she says, works well for those who chronically hold their breath or feel agitated. Alternately, focusing on the inhalation can help those collapsed in depression or dissociation, especially when paired with movements like modified sun salutations. – Linda Sparrowe