A student stopped me one day after class and told me this, seven or eight years ago at YoYoYogi in Portland. I’ve never forgotten it.
Isn’t that what we all want for our yoga students? For them to feel safe?
Last night I taught the B. Yoga Basel TT cohort all about Yoga & Trauma Sensitivity. We covered everything from the basics of trauma theory to Bessel Van Der Kolk and Resmaa Menakem to Gabor Maté to reptilian brains to creating a culture of consent and how to offer quality hands-on assists and trauma-informed savasana options to guru power dynamics to the most burning question of all: whether yoga teachers should even be touching students in the first place.
Whew!! It was a rich, nuanced, complicated, inspiring conversation — and it made me fall in love with teaching yoga all over again.
From San Francisco/Oakland to Portland to Boston to Basel, I feel grateful to have been a fly on the wall for some of the most thoughtful and progressive trauma-informed developments of the last decade.
Here in 2024, we are serving students more wholeheartedly and creating a safe(r) container for them at the same time. If that’s not ahimsa, I don’t know what is.
Tonight I’m teaching the B Yoga Basel teacher trainees all about yoga and trauma-sensitivity: everything from Bessel Van Der Kolk to Resmaa Menakem to creating a culture of consent to polyvagal theory to patriarchal guru power dynamics and whether yoga teachers should even BE offering hands-on assists anymore.
With an estimated 1 in 4 folks walking into your yoga class with a history of trauma, this was always important. But considering that the whole world has been experiencing collective trauma since March 2020, and Turkish and Syrian folks just experienced a literally earth-shattering loss of life and home, and Ukrainian refugees continue to flee mass suffering and genocidal war crimes, knowing how to teach trauma-informed yoga feels more essential than ever.
I’m (pleasantly) stunned by how much has changed on this in the yoga world in the last decade. Ten or twelve years ago, we assumed that even in a class of 150 sweaty heaving bodies, every student should be touched at least once. Like touch-without-consent was only a good thing.
Thank goodness the industry has woken up to trauma-awareness since then. There’s been a true outpouring of scholarship and activism in the last few years, and we’re all better for it.
Teachers: there are so many subtle ways we can cultivate agency, encourage self-regulation, and help folks feel physically and emotionally safe in our classes. Let’s keep at it, together, until every yoga class is a trauma-informed yoga class.