How is Trauma-Informed Yoga similar and different from "regular" Yoga?
THRIVE Trauma-Informed Yoga is similar to other types of yoga in that it involves physical movement and awareness of your body, mind and breath. It is different than classes you may experiences in studios in that it does not incorporate physical assists/touch by the facilitator. Another key difference is that the emphasis is on the inner experience of the shape rather than enforcing what a pose should look like. Since trauma greatly complicates our relationship with choice, your agency in choosing your expression of the pose is central to this system.
How did you develop this system?
I decided to not invent anything new! Instead, I drew upon my years of clinical experience, yoga practice and teacher training, and consolidated what research showed were the most sound approaches to treating embodied trauma. THRIVE draws from evidence-based interventions such as Dialectal Behavior Therapy, Self-Compassion, and Trauma-Sensitive Yoga. The THRIVE Trauma-Informed curriculum is grounded in the most current neurobiological research and attachment theory, as well as group theory, buddhist psychology and yogic philosophy principles.
Do I need to be an experienced yogi to participate in the groups?
No. The groups are open to all levels of practitioners. Each group will focus on a therapeutic goal and each week will introduce a theme related to that goal. The groups have the added bonus of integrating a group process- which means group therapy, so you get a 2-1 powerful modality where you explore internal as well as relational dynamics in the here and now. Modifications will be offered so that you can feel free to choose the option that is most useful for your body/mind in each shape.
Is the goal to "release" or re-experience my trauma while I'm in the yoga shape?
No. Every type of trauma robs us of choice. The intent of this practice is to help you attune to your body by noticing sensations in the moment and practicing making the most useful choices for your emotional and bodily state while working with the theme presented by the facilitator that week.
Do I have to have a diagnosis of PTSD to engage in this practice?
Not necessarily. Many of us have suffered a type of trauma called attachment trauma, which is trauma suffered in the context of a close emotional relationship. This type of trauma may be profoundly impactful in the way that we choose to engage in relationships and regulate our emotions. This type of practice can be especially helpful for attachment trauma, PTSD, and for people with other struggles who seek a more meaningful mind/body connection.
What if I get triggered or suffer a flashback during or after the practice?
It is highly recommended that you be engaged concurrently in psychotherapy if you choose to participate in one of our groups. Yoga is sometimes thought to be soothing and calming, but it can also be activating and bring up difficult emotions. Should you have an overwhelming emotional experience during a group, the facilitator (s) will offer you tools to assist you.
I'm out of shape and not flexible. What if I get this yoga wrong?
There is no way to fail at trauma-informed yoga. However, THRIVE can be a confronting practice if you struggle with perfectionism and self-loathing. Those thoughts and corresponding feelings will likely be stirred up during the practice, which is actually a good thing because we can then work with them with compassion.
What does Trauma-Informed Yoga have to do with Social Justice?
Trauma does not occur in a vacuum. Systemic trauma such as racism, homophobia, sexism and socio-economic oppression affects communities, families, and has immense bearing on how people process their individual trauma. Through learning about oppressive and healthy power dynamics and implementing the utilization of non-coercive and inclusive language when teaching, teachers who train in the THRIVE system begin to pave the way to think in a systems-oriented way.
THRIVE’s intent is to re-define “seva” (service) as going beyond the white affluent yoga culture’s dictates of what it thinks others need. THRIVE is driven by a mission of social justice, cultivating the art of humility needed to listen, and the belief that yoga should be accessible to all people in the manner that they need.
How do you blend group therapy with yoga?
During the group series, we start with 45 minutes of movement or trauma-informed yoga, set to a specific theme led by the facilitator. We then transition to a process group or group/talk psychotherapy. where you can discuss whatever comes up emotionally or physically in that moment. Group psychotherapy has been shown to be as effective as individual psychotherapy to treat the majority of diagnoses people typically present in mental health treatment settings. Group psychotherapy also allows for the treatment of more people with effective, evidence-based interventions that are also cost-effective.
How can I get involved with THRIVE?
If you are a mental health provider who is also a certified yoga teacher and would like to facilitate a group, let's connect! If you are a yoga teacher who would like to volunteer teach a community class for THRIVE (and attend trainings for free!), please reach out. If you'd like to join the THRIVE family in the future stay tuned for more information and also send us a note to introduce yourself!