with Sarah Kinsley

“Trauma is a fact of life.  It does not, however, have to be a life sentence.” -Peter Levine

The Sanskrit word, Yoga, means to unite, to yoke together all parts of ourselves.  Yoga as a treatment for trauma helps us yoke together all the fragmented parts of ourselves thus creating union in the body, mind and spirit.  Yoga helps us learn how to fully inhabit the present moment allowing us to truly know the now. These powerful practices teach us how to observe and witness our inner landscape and grow our innate capacity to experience whatever is moving through us.  Through practice we come to see as Ani Pema Chodron reminds us, we are the sky not the weather patterns blowing through us.  We are more than our past, we are more than our trauma. Trauma-Informed Yoga practices have the potential to help individuals notice the thoughts, emotions and body sensations they are feeling in a safe environment with a trained teacher/therapist.  Then individuals can make mindful choices on how to respond to what they are experiencing. The individual has the potential to process the frightening sensations that first occurred during the traumatic event. These sensations have often been lodged in their body/mind in the form of an unprocessed stress response; such as, a fight or flight or freeze response common to all mammals.  Through trauma-informed Yoga we have the ability to digest trauma and move forward. 

Through this work in Yoga studios, in clinical settings and in my own body, I have witnessed the profound capacity we have as humans to overcome great suffering.  Carl Jung had it right: “I am not what has happened to me; I am what I choose to become.”  

This fall at Union Yoga + Wellness, we will explore how to ensure to the best of our ability that we are creating a safe, trauma-informed space.  Our intention as trauma-informed Yoga teachers and therapists can be summed up in the first Yama: Ahimsa (non-violence/non-harm). It is paramount that we learn how to create an environment that honours each person’s safety, not just of their knees but of their whole being.  We need to remind ourselves there are over seven billion ways to practice Yoga. The new book by David Treleaven, Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices For Safe And Transformative Healing has been very helpful for me in my practice and I am excited to share what resonates with me.  

I believe in a few years, all Yoga Teacher Trainings will have trauma-informed Yoga as part of the core curriculum, as we come to acknowledge not only the suffering that is part of the human condition but also the inherent therapeutic qualities of Yoga as a somatic-based practice.  I hope you can join me this fall to explore this exciting, complex and inspiring topic that has me forever in awe!

Feel free to reach out to skinsley23 [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any questions about the upcoming training. 

Click here to read the unabridged article written by Sarah Kinsley.

Learn more about Sarah Kinsley’s Trauma Informed Yoga Training and enroll here.