Trauma Foundations/Ahimsa

Benefits of a dual-profession training

Participant feedback from both mental health professionals and yoga teachers is that people from both professions learned valuable information that is applicable to both fields; gained appreciation of the importance of cross-profession collaboration, and felt inspired to hear from and connect with like-minded people with diverse scopes of practice.

How this training helps mental health professionals

As our field, as well as the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry evolve, it is becoming increasingly clear that effective trauma treatment must include modalities to address trauma as it manifests in the body and in the nervous system.  Due to the pervasiveness of trauma in our world: as professionals it is ethically imperative that we be able to recognize the signs of trauma even when it is not verbally disclosed (as it often is not); we must develop at least a basic competency in body and breath based modalities that address trauma on nervous system (pre-cognitive) and somatic levels; we must be able to make appropriate referrals and engage in effective collaboration, when our clients need access to modalities beyond our scope of practice.

As the efficacy of yoga in treating trauma is increasingly recognized by medical science, many people will seek remedy for their trauma symptoms with yoga.  When taught in a trauma-informed manner, yoga is proven to help alleviate the effects of trauma. When yoga is not taught in a trauma-informed manner and is inappropriate for our client due to fitness level, instructional style, setting, etc. – our clients will not be helped by yoga, and are at a substantial risk of being re-traumatized.  Thus, if we as mental health professionals are to help our clients to gain access to this transformative practice, we must be informed about: how and why yoga, combined with psychotherapy, can be effective in healing trauma; how uninformed referrals to yoga can be harmful; and how to connect our clients with yoga instruction that is appropriate to their needs.

How this training helps yoga teachers

As yoga instructors, we encounter a wide variety of students. While we are not called upon to treat trauma in our classes, we must recognize that many people will seek remedy for their trauma symptoms with yoga, and that yoga, when taught in a trauma-informed manner, is proven to help alleviate the effects of trauma. Trauma is far more prevalent than most people realize, and it impacts a person’s brain and nervous system so that their experience of many of the practices of yoga tends to be drastically different from that of a neuro-typical person.  As yoga students with unhealed trauma are unlikely to have the awareness or ability to tell us that they have been traumatized, let alone articulate what they need in order to have a safe and helpful yoga experience – it is up to us, as teachers, to become trauma-informed.  No matter what style of yoga we teach, we have the power to create a non-harming, healing-conducive atmosphere in our classes and private sessions, and to connect and collaborate with mental health professionals.