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What is Trauma Informed Yoga?



Zosia Yoga is a trauma-informed yoga service.


I have chosen to offer trauma-informed yoga so that all individuals who attend Zosia Yoga feel supported, including individuals who have a history of trauma. However you do not need to have a history of trauma to attend Zosia Yoga.


Trauma-Informed Yoga refers to how I am offering yoga services, not just what I am offering.


Trauma-specific services, as distinct from trauma-informed services, offer interventions and therapy for trauma. Zosia Yoga is both. Zosia Yoga is a trauma-informed service and I offer a yoga therapy course that is designed as an intervention for trauma, Yoga for Trauma Recovery.


Zosia Yoga is trauma-informed because it is founded on principles of trauma-informed care. You can learn more about trauma-informed care and service delivery at Blue Knot Foundation


Blue Knot Foundation developed nationally and internationally recognised guidelines for trauma-informed care: Organisational Guidelines for Trauma-Informed Service-Delivery


I have chosen to adopt a trauma-informed model of service delivery for the same reasons these guidelines were developed: the prevalence of trauma, the impact of trauma and because relationships that are safe, reliable, collaborative, empowering and offer choice have the potential to support trauma recovery.


The five foundational principles of trauma-informed care are:


• Safety – emotional and physical safety

• Choice – offer choice as much as possible

• Collaboration – working ‘with’ individuals in a service, versus ‘doing to’

• Trustworthiness – sensitive to individuals’ needs; be reliable and consistent

• Empowerment – supporting individuals to feel empowered


Trauma-informed care also respects diversity and is inclusive.


Trauma-informed care adopts a strengths-based approach, which considers what happened to someone, versus what is wrong with them. In this approach, ‘symptoms’ can be understood to have had or have an adaptive function that may no longer be as helpful outside of the situation they developed in. Alcohol and drug misuse, self-harm, perfectionism and restrictive eating patterns are all examples of ‘symptoms’ that may have helped individuals to cope with distress, as well as caused harm and other problems.


There are different types of trauma:


  • One-off or single incident trauma, like witnessing or experiencing a single incident of assault, a natural disaster or accident. This kind of trauma may be associated with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Complex trauma is a repeated experience of threat to safety, in a relationship, like childhood abuse or neglect, family and domestic violence. Relationship experiences like these leave individuals feeling unsafe, disempowered and lacking choice. Complex trauma is more common than single incident trauma and is associated with significant consequences for mental and physical health.

  • Another way to understand trauma relates to the experience and effects of overwhelming stress. When an individual’s sense of safety (felt sense of safety or actual safety) is threatened, their capacity to cope may be overwhelmed. They may become ‘stuck’ in, or more prone to, a trauma response (i.e., fight/flight and / or freeze/submit). This may also be referred to as a dysregulated autonomic nervous system or narrow ‘window of tolerance’.


Just like complex trauma usually occurs in the context of relationships, trauma recovery also occurs in the context of relationships. As mentioned, relationships that feel safe, empowering, collaborative, reliable and offer choice can support trauma recovery. These types of relational experiences help individuals to regulate their autonomic nervous systems and emotions, effectively access cognitive functions like problem-solving and use of language.


If you are interested in learning more (and there is much more to learn!) about trauma-informed care, you may find it helpful to visit Blue Knot Foundation


You are welcome to contact me if you have any comments or questions.




References:

Blue Knot Foundation (2020) Organisational Guidelines for Trauma-Informed Service-Delivery.


Blue Knot Foundation (2017) Talking About Trauma: Guide to Everyday Conversations for the General Public.


Stavropoulos, P. (2019) The principles of trauma-informed care. In Benjamin et al. Humanising Mental Healthcare in Australia: A Guide to Trauma-Informed Approaches.

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