What is Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga?
Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is a body-based practice developed by David Emerson and his team at the Center for Trauma and Embodiment in Massachusetts, USA. Supported by empirical evidence, it is found to be effective in supporting the healing of complex trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its accompanying effects. TCTSY is grounded in Yoga philosophy and research in trauma, attachment and neuroscience.
In a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga session, we focus on how Yoga and movement make us feel on the inside, not what our Yoga practice looks like from the outside. You are invited to be in charge of your movement. You are welcome to move in ways that feel useful for your body in the present moment. We do not use physical assists.
We may find ourselves cultivating some of the following experiences when we practise Trauma-Sensitive Yoga:
- Having a present moment experience
Practising Trauma-Sensitive Yoga may help us learn to be in the present moment. Being in the present moment and staying in the present moment may be challenging for us when we carry trauma in our body. Instead, we may dwell in past flashbacks or feel anxious about the future.
The practice of Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, where we focus on present moment experiences and sensations in our body, helps us to fine-tune our abilities to be in the present.
- Making choices that are useful to you and your body
In a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga session, we learn to decide what body shapes and movement we want to try or explore. You may notice the facilitator offering different options and choices for movement and stillness. These are invitations that you can choose to try. You are welcome to decline and come into other shapes that you know supports your sense of safety and ease.
We use this experience to learn to make choices for our body and our life.
- Noticing your external and internal environment
You are welcome to activate your 5 senses to notice your external environment at the beginning or towards the end of the practice. During the movement practice, you may continue to notice your external environment. For example, what you can see and hear around you.
Another choice you can make is to begin to notice any internal sensation. For example, a stretch on the sides of your body or a tightening of your muscles. Some other sensations that may be possible could be tingling, trembling, and/or soreness in different parts of your body. You may also notice that there are no internal sensations, and that is okay. When we learn to notice our external and internal environments, we learn to feel our environment and our body in the present moment.
- Connecting your breath with your body
Breathing may seem so natural and automatic, but breathing can also be a challenging task. When we begin to notice our breath, it gives us a possibility to notice internal sensations in our body These sensations can give us information about what feels uncomfortable or painful for us. We may also notice sensations such as calmness or warmth. When we learn to practice connecting our breath with our body, we may experience and notice some of the information stored in our body.