Reconnect with your body and find calmness through gentle movement and passive stretching
What is Trauma-Informed Yoga?
Trauma-informed yoga refers to the approach in which the teacher has knowledge of trauma and the symptoms of trauma. The yoga class is meant to be safe and supportive for individuals who are experiencing stress and/or have been traumatised.
Safety is the key
The trauma-informed approach is all about creating a safe and supportive environment to help you reconnect with your body. It is common for someone who has experienced acute stress or trauma to report feeling disconnected from physical sensations. To rebuild this connection, so that you can once again rely on the cues your body is sending you, it is crucial to feel safe. Here some of the ways I will try to ensure this safety and support:
Gentle and accessible movement and yoga shapes
The movement and yoga shapes in a mental-health and trauma-informed class are always gentle. They are also accessible for different bodies and abilities. I will never ask you to do something that is too difficult or beyond what your body is capable of at that moment. It is my absolute priority to respect your physical limitations and work with them and never against them. The purpose of this class is to increase your body awareness and help you understand your physical boundaries. And it’s a gradual process that shouldn’t be rushed.
You have the choice and you are in control
In a trauma-informed class, I will invite you to try certain shapes or movement instead of telling you what to do. I will keep reminding that everything is an invitation. You can always decide whether you want to explore the suggested movement or shape or prefer a different variation. Also, whenever you wish, you can always choose to come out of the shape and rest. This can help to rebuild the sense of self-agency and control over your body and not give the power away to the ‘teacher’.
You have the information
Knowing what is happening to you, what is the purpose of the exercise we are doing or what to expect, helps to feel safer and more empowered. My task as a mental-health and trauma-informed yoga facilitator is to minimise the risk of confusion or overwhelm during the class. This way, you can fully relax and experience a deeper connection to your body. Often, understanding why we are doing what we are doing makes the action much more meaningful and enjoyable. And it is my responsibility to give you just enough information at the right time without overloading you.
Minimising potential triggers
Everyone’s nervous system is different and reacts to the same stimuli in a unique way. Here are some things that I will do my best to ensure during the class: low ambient music or no music, no scents, calming lights (whenever possible), calm and clear voice. In an in-person class, I will make sure there is a safe distance between us and I won’t be offering hands-on adjustments (unless it’s absolutely required, in which case, I will always ask your consent first). In an online class, you always have the permission to keep the camera off if you wish to do so.
You learn the tools of self-regulation
Emotional self-regulation is an invaluable life skill that you can start developing on a yoga mat. You will experience it through connection with the breath and increased body awareness. By learning how to calm yourself down and knowing the options of dealing with whatever discomfort you may experience in the class, you’ll feel more equipped and less powerless when faced with emotional and physical distress also in your daily life.
What trauma-informed yoga is NOT?
Trauma-informed yoga is not to be confused with the Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga – an empirically validated, clinical intervention for complex trauma or chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder.
Please note that my classes are not a form of trauma therapy, nor should they be used as a substitute for one (although they can be very beneficial when used in conjunction with trauma therapy).
I’m not a licensed trauma therapist and if you are experiencing symptoms of trauma, please seek help from a mental health professional or a licensed trauma therapist.
During the class, I will not ask or encourage you to remember, re-experience or talk about a traumatic event or a stressful situation you may have been through.
What to expect from my private classes?
In my classes I combine Yin Yoga and slow-paced Hatha Yoga balancing static postures with mindful movement.
Yin Yoga offers time and a safe space to slow down, release physical tension and calm the mind. While gentle Hatha sequences will help you build strength and concentration working at your own pace and within your physical limits.
I also weave into my class many of the grounding and self-regulation tools taken from Somatic Experiencing, a body-oriented trauma healing modality developed by Peter Levine.
You will be carefully guided in and out of the poses and I will be suggesting variations and adjustments for your unique body structure. Also, the pace, intensity and structure of the class will depend on your current abilities and needs and will be modified throughout the class whenever required.
Please get in touch with me to discuss your needs and book your private session (face-to-face in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or online via Zoom).
Private class fee 30 USD/ hour.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
“I’m very happy to have had classes with my Elena, her yin yoga lessons were wonderful. I really enjoyed them. They’ve helped me with my stress and I felt very relaxed.”
– Nattalie, Thailand
“I had a personal Yin Yoga class with Elena, focusing on long, deep stretches and calming the mind. It was really beneficial for me and I learned a lot more than in public classes, because Elena customized the yoga to my personal body anatomy. I am very flexible in most parts of my body, so often the common stretches do not really do it for me. Not so with Elena, she guided me deeper into the poses and showed me new ways how to do them. While doing this, she created an atmosphere where I could really surrender and find peace in the poses, so that I almost felt like coming out of a guided meditation afterwards. Thank you so much, Elena!”
– Christine, Germany
“Yin yoga lessons with Elena were always fantastic and very useful! She nourished my body with gentle kindness and powerful energy. Always with clear explanation of movement. I would highly recommend Elena’s yin class to everyone!”
– Monika, Poland