Openview Yoga

With Keri Sawyer

Keri's Blog

view:  full / summary

Great Resources

Posted on November 20, 2016 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Interested in more information pertaining to Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga? Here is a great list to start:

Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga, David Emmerson

Trauma Senstive Yoga in Therapy, David Emmerson

The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk

Trauma and Recovery, Judith L Herman

Trauma Stewardship, Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky, and Connie Burk 

Why Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga?

Posted on October 10, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I began an amazing journey on a snowy early spring afternoon teaching yoga under a tarp to a group of at risk adolescent boys in a theraputic wilderness program based in Medford WI. We were bundled in our coats and boots around a fire as we started our first yoga class together. I must admit I didn't even feel the chill in the air as I was nervous and a bit fearful of how I could teach these boys. Would they participate? Would they hate it? Would it help them? I was in the mists of finishing my 200 hour yoga teacher certification and was definately questioning how this class was going to play out. All of the boys chose to participate and the class went off with out a hitch. I continued teaching the class weekly watching these at risk kids as they came and left the treatment program. I felt that the yoga class I was teaching was missing something. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but I noticed that the yoga I was teaching was different with my other students compared to the teens I was teaching in the wilderness.  This is where I came upon the Trauma Center in Boston.

What I found was that these "at risk" kids were really suffering from trauma. Trauma took many forms for these tough yet scared adolescents...some had a parent or sibling die, some were childern of divorce, some were survivors of abuse and or rape, some had parents who were not able to emotionally connect, some were adopted,.......etc.  Most of the boys and girls that I have worked with were enrolled into treatment due to behavioral problems like using drugs and alochol, cutting on themsleves, running way and so forth. What I learned through the Trauma Center is that many of these behaviors were really just symptoms of thier trauma and the way to help these kids was to treat them for trauma using a relational approach. Luckly the wilderness program already understood this and allowed me to start teaching Trauma Center Trauma Sensitve yoga (TCTSY) with the kids after recieving my training at the Trauma Center.

Many kids who go through trauma have a hard time connecting with themselves and with others, they tend to have a hard time identifing feelings, it can be hard for them feel their body, they tend to have trouble making choices in life and tend to be unable to take care of themselves. TCTSY is an evidance based adjunctive treatment that creates a safe space so that students can start to experiance feeling body sensations (interoception), practice making choices, have opportunites to take effective action and learn to create rhythms with in themselves and with others. TCTSY is also based in empowerment and focuses on a student led class instead of teacher led. So what does this mean? It means that the students have a choice of what they do with their body and the facilitator helps guide them based upon what they choose. Standard yoga classes tend to "prescribe" by telling students where to place their body and what would be best for the circumstance. I love this quote from Judith Herman: " No intervention that takes power away from the survior can possibly foster her own recovery, no mater how much it appears to be in her immediate best interest". TCTSY empowers students to make thier own choices though the guidance of a professional facilitor with no hands on assists. While practicing TCTSY, students can build a relationship with the facilitator though a shared authentic experiance. In standard yoga classes, the focus many times is on the students experiance instead of a shared relational experiance that builds a safe connection with another person.

Unfortunately, I have seen many people go to yoga classes to try and heal from trauma with no other participation in psychotherapy.  Healing from trauma embodies the whole person...physically, mentally, and spiritually. While, psychotherapy can be extreemly scary for those who suffer from trauma, it is necessary to heal. The good new is that today there are so many amazing options and psychotherapy doens't need to be just talk therapy. I will have a future blog on Brainspotting a therapy for Trauma founded by David Grand. 

Once agian, the question was,  Why TCTSY? Because TCTSY is an evidance based treatment that goes along with psychotherapy to help heal trauma. I have seen many try to heal from trauma using a standard yoga class and I have seen them continue to traumatize themselves over and over agian thinking that maybe if they can " get through" the feelings that they will heal. TCTSY isn't about re-experiancing or trying to "get through" anything but is a validated adjunct treatment for trauma that allows a safe and predictable environment for students to start to connent to their body by noticing muscular dynamics.