Why work in a trauma-sensitive way? Why is cycle awareness important?
Trauma-sensitive yoga and embodied listening
The world is a very different place than when I did my yoga teacher training nearly two decades ago. There is much more awareness around trauma and that it includes not only big life-changing events, but also on-going situations where there is too much of something, like coercion, or too little of something, like with neglect.
Trauma-sensitive yoga means that as a teacher I am creating an environment where I can work WITH you to make it feel safe or safer. In a group situation, that might be as simple as you choosing where in the room you want to be or knowing that you can leave at any time. In a one-to-one session, it's about a collaboration with you to give YOU control over what you do and don't do.
I use invitational language instead of commands, which are common in yoga instruction. This means that you can explore what feels right for you in that moment and together we see what supports your nervous system.
The danger of the teacher not being trauma-informed is that there may be a risk of being retraumatised and further harmed. It should always be okay to ask a teacher about their training, insurance etc.
In my individual sessions with people who've experienced trauma, it's about small, manageable steps for you to start implementing in your daily life so that you can live more fully, outside of the shadow of the trauma. How would that feel? What difference would that make?
Embodied listening is a wonderful addition to yoga, where I support you to check in with your body and listen to what needs to be voiced, either to yourself or to be heard and witnessed by me. Many times people who've experienced trauma have had to stop listening to their body because it's too painful or scary, but we start with little steps of noticing sensations that are not too much. This helps you make positive choices moving forwards.
Cycle awareness can include all sorts of cycles and be practiced by everyone. It's incredibly important because when we live with knowledge of the cycles around and within us, we live a sustainable life. Sustainable for you and the planet.
The first step is awareness.
Noticing the cycles that affect you; like the circadian rhythm (internal 24-hour clock or wake/sleep cycle), the lunar cycle, the seasons, or even the in / out breath. For some, it's appropriate also to notice the menstrual cycle, whether it's regular or not.
The second step is to track the cycles and notice your own response to them. It can be helpful to write this down.
The third step is to respond to phases of a cycle differently. This can involve some experimentation to see what supports YOU in a particular phase.
So this might mean changing your yoga practice according to where you are in your menstrual cycle. Or having different expectations of what work you'll get done in a particular part of the day. Of managing your energy levels according to the lunar calendar. (See here for some examples of the effects of the moon on humans and animals.)
Developing this awareness enables you to be kinder to yourself! No wonder you're feeling tired; the short days of Winter and your period means that your body naturally needs to rest more. I can work with you to find tools to develop this awareness and manage different phases of the cycles to know when to maximise on the energy available, when to up the self-care, or how to pace yourself to prevent overwhelm or burnout and move towards resilience and balance.