March 20: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

What is trauma-sensitive yoga?
Trauma (on some level) is something that everyone in our society will experience, whether it’s physical, verbal, mental, or through something as commonplace as having surgery. The body stores these traumas, and they can come into play during a yoga class. Potentially presenting as anxiety, the inability to move, flashbacks, tears, phantom pains in the body, and many other ways as well. The mind wants to suppress the traumatic memory to protect us, but the body remembers and stores these memories. The good news is yoga is incredibly powerful in healing and soothing the body during these responses! However, traditional yoga classes are not always set up to support in this way. There is nothing wrong with traditional yoga, and there is no way to make a class completely trigger free. Everyone handles trauma differently and there is no “right” way to do it. This space is an attempt to make the umbrella of yoga a little bigger and to offer space for those who are not called to a more traditional class at this time.

Who is this class for?
This class is for new yogis and seasoned practitioners alike! If the pandemic has been challenging, if you have experienced paralysis in a yoga class, if yoga feels daunting because it’s yoga, or if you have a hard time feeling totally free in a traditional class and want to try something different, or simply if you’re curious and want to try something new!

What To Expect?
Trauma-sensitive yoga is built to empower you with freedom of movement — or stillness — in class. You are welcome to change shape at any time, or alter your breath whenever you feel the impulse. The teacher will practice with you the whole time, and they will constantly offer options, helping you find what feels best for you that day. There are days when it’s helpful to follow, and days when it’s not. In trauma sensitive yoga, these are all welcome experiences and options.

The Teacher: Kate Smith identifies as Caucasian, Female, She/Her/Hers pronouns.
4:00 – 4:10: A brief introduction to what we will be doing and getting settled int the space. You can ask questions either to the group or anonymously in the chat.
4:15 – 5:15: We will do an all levels trauma sensitive yoga class together.
5:15 – 5:30: You are free to leave or ask questions if you wish.
No props required (not even a mat); however, a blanket can be nice to pad the knees.
No music (you can play some in your own space if you wish, your speaker will be off for class).
No recorded video of the class.
No chants or anything tied to specific beliefs or religion.
No guided visualizations.
The option to leave your camera off the whole time.
The option to ask questions about trauma sensitive yoga at the end (with the option to leave if this does not suit).
The option to change shape during vinyasa.
The option to leave should the space not support where you are at today.

If you are experiencing a challenging time right now, and wish to talk to someone, we recommend the following two resources. You are not alone, and these resources are here for us.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–TALK (1-800-273-8255)
This is a crisis hotline that can help with many issues, not just suicide. For example, anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal; family and friends who are concerned about a loved one; or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call the Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they are feeling or concerns for other family and friends. Call the toll-free Lifeline, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

Crisis Text Line: Text “MHFA” to 741741
Available 24/7, 365 days a year, this organization helps people with mental health challenges by connecting callers with trained crisis volunteers who will provide confidential advice, support, and referrals if needed.

More About The Instructor: Yoga has helped Kate both mentally and physically since she first discovered it in 2014, helping her through PTSD and anxiety while creating strength and connection between the mind and body. Kate is a sort of “Yoga Melting Pot,” culminating Trauma informed Yoga, Lllyangar, Kundalini, and prenatal training to make her own style. Kate is first and foremost a trauma-sensitive trained yoga teacher. She has been privileged enough to use this training to teach in Cook County Jail through Yoga For Recovery, and to educate teachers in their 200 hour level certification on the importance of trauma sensitivity in the world of yoga. Smith herself has over 200 hours of extended and certified mental health education as well, and she believes all people should have access to mental and physical wellness. It is a passion of hers to help break the stigma that surrounds trauma and mental illness in our culture.