Trauma Sensitive Calming Yoga Practice
Yoga for trauma is somewhat different than a regular practice is that your intention is very focused on feeling safe, even with your self. Certain positions can trigger emotional responses in the tissues of the body and that feeling of safety can be hindered. This particular set is for people who are wanting the Biblical emphasis in their work.
The very first thing I would do is create a safe space where you will not become distracted easily. If you are dealing with obsessive thoughts from the get go, bring yourself as you normally would to attend to your breath. maybe even the cleansing alternate nostril breathing while you are seated. When you are ready, you can move into three part breath while still focusing on the breath. When you picture the 3 part breath as a glass of water being poured on the inhale, you are also interacting with the imagination. First, the top of the glass of water is poured out into the belly or bottom of the glass so to speak. It then fills up the ribs or side body, moving into the upper chest and clavicle. When you are exhaling, you are pouring water back into the glass and so you pour it from the clavicle, then empty the ribs and side body, then the belly is last. While you are focusing on this breath, you can have a spiritual impact on the mind as well as you invasion what you want to take in ( maybe love, acceptance, forgiveness, lightheartedness, whatever it is) and take it though your whole being, then upon that exhale, you breathe or pour out those thoughts that make you suffer ( anger, self loathing, heavy heartedness etc…).
I love the phrase, ” Energy flows where attention goes”, so focus your energy and attention on that which you want to take in and that which you want to release.
2. It’s best to have only one affirmation at a time that you want to focus on for each practice. If you are feeling weak, your affirmation ma be, ” I am strong and resilient”, or I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Other ideas are, ” I am worthy of love, I release shame.” I am hopeful and faithful”. etc etc… You can come up with your own SHORT one liners. For twists, ” Everywhere I turn, I see joy.” Everywhere I turn, God is with me.” Etc….
3. When the obsessive thoughts try to return, use your very short one liners to return with your focus on the breath. You can even use a portion of the one liners, ” Faith.” Hope”, Resilient, etc…. just to make it more simple and forthright and easier to focus on the breath.
4. Calming Asanas and ideas for wordings if wanted. Each of these movements can be as long as you would like to make them.
1. Seated Mountain. ” I am seated with Christ in love.”
2. Seated alternate nostril breathing. ” I am a sweet fragrance.”
3. 3 part breath. ” I am filled with divine love.” I inhale…. I release……”
4. Seated Sun breaths A. Left hand rested in your lap with palm up, right hand about height of your sternum palm facing down. As you inhale, allow your right hand to move with the breath upwards but no further than the throat. As you exhale, allow the right hand to descend to the left palm SLOWLY with the breath. Invite the hand to go with the breath, not the breath with the hand. And slow it down and stay focused. You are allowing the energy to flow aligned with the chakras above the the root and below the crown. Notice that it involves your throat chakra, which symbolizes your voice. So much trauma involves not feeling like we have a say or a voice. You are also engaging the heart chakra as well more specifically in this breath practice. Do this for as long as you fill the need to create the breath and movement connection. Keep your hands soft.
Variation B..Sun breaths …with palms together at the heart. On the inhale, open the hands as far as you can inhale the breath, even out to stretching them as far as they will go, then on the exhale, bring them back in towards the heart space.
Variation c sun breaths… hands at heart, inhale raise them up and out and upon exhale, draw them back in to the heart and slightly bowing your head to your hands.
Variation D... same as above but sitting on your heels and beginning with hands softly on thighs palms down, ad raising up on inhale and setting palms back on the thighs upon exhale…
All of these movements are YOUR choice to empower you to have a choice and say in your practice.
5. Seated neck and shoulder rolls
6. Table top for cat cow or taking hips back to right heel, up to hands, back to left heel, opening the spine.
7. Childs pose variations. knees together, knees wide as the mat.
8. Childs pose stretch with hands to=both sides.
9. Down dog. Alternate calf stretching ( I will run and not be weary, I will walk and not faith)
10. Tadasana. ” I am strong and resilient”
11. Tree. “” I am steady and flexible”.
12. Standing Fwd Fold. ” You are my hiding place. Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You.”
13. Lunge . ” I can run through a troop and leap over a wall.”
14. Crescent. ” I am strong in the Lord.”
15. Step up to mountain. Hands at heart
16. Fwd Fold
17. Lunge other side
19. Step up to mountain. ” I am strong and resilient.”
20. Tree other side.” I am steady and flexible.”
21. Chair. ” I am seated with Christ.”
22. Fwd Fold, with staff pose or one leg in, one straight. Whatever is comfy for you.
23. Seated twists ” Everywhere I turn, I see…joy, peace, life etc.. YOUR choice.
24. Bridge. ” He will lift me up”
25. Seated Hugging knees. ” I am deeply loved, completely acceptable, I am enough.”
26. Boat with outstretched hands. ” My heart is open”..
27. Reclining twists.” Everywhere I turn, I …..”
28. Savasana. ” I am deeply loved, completely acceptable, I am enough.”
29. Notice your breath and repeat this as many times as you need to.
30. Notice your energetic space. How do you feel in your body?
IN any of these asanas YOU choosier phrases. Sit down and come up with some of your ow ideas of scriptures, words or phrases that help YOU feel peaceful and safe.
IF you move into a more energetic practice such as sun salutes, use phrases that build on strength and resilience, maybe the opposite of what you are feeling in the trauma.
Since trauma involves anxiety or fear of what’s next, try to stay in the known focus on sayings that help you feel a sense of trust and hope.
Remember that it is a PRACTICE, one step, one day, one breath…at a time.
Each affirmation or asana is a space for you to use your breath for freedom.
Step out of the mold that others have placed you in, or that you have placed yourself in, one step at a time. Each little pice is unloaded and before you know it, you will be on the other side. Have patience with yourself. Do the work. Let God do his.