Recovery Through the Trauma-Informed Lens

By Jill Tuleya

Living Yoga is deepening its roots in trauma-informed yoga. We've been discussing things likewhat does being trauma-informed really mean? What exactly is trauma-informed yoga anyway?  As a way to capture the essence of trauma-informed yoga, we've recently created a diagram--we call it the "Trauma Wheel" (see related picture)--along with a list of defining characteristics and examples to further explain Living Yoga's perspective of this increasingly popular topic.

So, now that we've hit mid-month in our focus on yoga and recovery, I've begun wondering what trauma-informed yoga means specifically in reference to Living Yoga's recovery classes.  As a way to start this conversation and using the Trauma Wheel as my guide, this is what I came up with. 

Give Options and Choices: Being in recovery is definitely a choice.  In Living Yoga's recovery classes, we honor and respect individual decision-making around movement and participation. Options/Modifications/Variations are not only allowed, but also celebrated.

Promote Ownership of Body: Our body--the way we move it, what we put into it, how we treat it--can be a powerful tool in the recovery process. When I understood I could use my own legs to walk away from addictive behaviors, I won.

Use Invitational Language:It's sweet to be reminded we may or may not do something. Being invited to stretch or bend if and when we feel ready, willing, able and safe promotes the recovery process.

Create Safety and Predictability: Most often, we like to know what is going to happen, when and in what way. While we can't always make this happen in real life, we can let our students know as best we can, what we plan to do during class time in order to create a safety net for experience.

Normalize the Range of Experience: Students of recovery often just want to feel like their ways of thinking and being are okay. We can remind students that we are all the sum of differences and provide specific ways this happens in the classroom. It's okay if my stretch is different from my neighbor's--as long as it feels safe.

Use Repetition and Simplicity: Keep it simple--it's a worthy mantra! Many of us have discovered, stepping onto the path of recovery, that simple actions are enough and repetition of safe and healthy practices are the backbone of our personal recovery.

Create Opportunities for Success: It's the little successes that add up. Find reasons to praise your students of recovery and help them feel worthy. Help them feel seen, heard and acknowledged. And be honest with them--success doesn't thrive on a false foundation.

Through all of this, we create safe somatic exploration. That's the center circle and guiding force of Living Yoga's "Trauma Wheel". In recovery, it means we are offering a save container in which to explore movement, practice being who we are and navigate the recovery path

This blog represents the perspectives and opinions of Jill Tuleya and not necessarily of Living Yoga.

Avery Lewis