ARTICLE: Reclaiming Joy by Dearbhla Kelly

This article ‘Reclaiming Joy’ offers some interesting and accessible perspectives on how yoga supports recovery from trauma.  The author provides some neuro-scientific explanations to offer empirical proof – which in the contemporary western world, scientific evidence has become the new truth – therefore strengthening the yoga platform amongst professional service and health care providers.  As I engage in research on trauma and recovery, neuroscience and PTSD, mindfulness and yoga – the threads that weave the fabric pieces together are becoming more apparent.

This weekend I will be teaching a trauma-sensitive yoga class – and in the past two weeks have spent much time with David Emerson discussing the relationship between trauma, yoga, and teaching yoga to complex trauma survivors.  The article I posted, discusses benefits a yoga practice can offer to someone striving to overcome trauma, however there is no discussion about teaching trauma-sensitive yoga.

Yoga studios are in abundance throughout North American cities, classes take place within community centers and a variety of settings – and within these classes, many students will be recovering from a traumatic event or a history of trauma – and in rare occasions, the yoga teacher may learn a student is suffering from PTSD.  More frequently, yoga teachers are unaware of their student’s histories.  All this being said, students who have a history of trauma participating in a studio class will often benefit from the experience, and many will not due to being triggered…and, depending on the complexity of a person’s trauma, attending a yoga studio class may not even be an option.

So how can we create an environment that may be more attainable and safer for someone recovering from trauma to access?

There are techniques that yoga teachers can begin to incorporate into their classes to make them more accessible for trauma survivors.  These techniques not only support people to feel more in control of their body and choices, but offer opportunities for new neuro-pathways to establish that contribute to the person’s path of recovery.

To learn more about these techniques – read ‘Overcoming Trauma through Yoga’ by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper.