When someone seeks out a Yoga Therapist because they are suffering from trauma, the role of the Yoga Therapist to facilitate this transformation with the self takes skill and knowledge. In this segment, Brandt explains the difference between and best practices for working with trauma in a group class versus a private session.
For additional information, read out supporting blog post about yoga therapy for trauma.
When you’re working with people that have suffered trauma, it’s a very different experience to work one on one than a class so there are certain things that are the same like how you might use invitational language, how you give people lots of options and don’t require them to do things necessarily, and then there’s a similarity in the physicality where you create a safe space where you as the teacher are not coming at them, standing over them, etc. but the difference I think and where sometimes people are confused is in private sessions you will, this is similar but different in that where in both cases try and encourage people to have certain kinds of experiences and the primary one is interceptive or sensory experiences where you’re feeling things in your body and you’ve heard probably a lot of times that trauma lives in the body or the tissues and that’s true in that in order to allow trauma to move and be resolved right, the body has to be felt. If the body is cut off not always but it can be more difficult so you know often it’s a good idea to whatever level a person can feel their body and that could be as sort of big body experiences like big asanas and as small as feeling the breath move in and out, but being in the body can be extremely useful, but when you’re working with somebody who really is interested in accurative solution in terms of working through their trauma and you know hopefully they’re supported by psychotherapist or social worker psychotherapist or a psychiatrist, some sort of mental health professional, but in private session there’s more of a place to allow them to explore how they feel about their trauma or their reactions to it or things that trigger them for themselves in the safe environment so usually it’s not going to happen with twenty people around you but if you can create a container where that’s possible and you can resist the urge to sort of process with them and use yoga practices to allow them to have experiences and then maybe talk it out for themselves so you know on our retreats we do a lot of active listening techniques so that we can get use to this experience of listening, about judging, of not implying anything with our physical bodies or the things that we say, so in that way it’s different and I think the other way it’s different is that you know you’re working through the koshas and in private sessions you may have a better take on where that trauma lives I mean it’s quite likely in vision of my kosha because that’s where conscious patterning is stored but it could certainly be in other places as well and to really help people specifically with practices with that so you’re not just generalizing a trauma sensitive practice that doesn’t trigger them you’re more looking in a private session at a practice that allows them to work with their bigger stuff in a way that is actually safe for them or that they can do. And that’s all about relationship so the questions around that are sort of like well what do I do? Do I simply just teach them yoga and not trigger them? Do I talk to them about their stuff? Do I work with things and then so the answer is you slowly work into the koshic techniques we learn in the course with their consent and permission, once you’ve established a relationship with them that’s solid, once you have their consent and consent in this case could be tricky I think because sometimes in order to consent to what you don’t know is going to happen consent is when someone can say you know I understand that this technique might bring up this stuff but to be honest with you I’m really interested in doing this work because I feel like that can be beneficial to me and then so you give them techniques that might help them let’s say deepen their access to their vision of my kosha which could allow some stuff to move and you would do that while explaining to them that you are a support system but they also might need other support.