Creating safe as possible spaces is at the heart of trauma-sensitive yoga trainings and all my teachings.
It’s something teachers, coaches, and facilitators of all activities and teams, including in the workplace should learn how to do. The beautiful thing is that workplace, school, sports and yoga classes, and events can be made exceedingly safer by implementing even a few of the skills I and other trauma sensitivity trainers teach.
Many people misunderstand these safer spaces as providing a way for people to avoid their fears and yet, it is actually the opposite. It’s by entering safe as possible spaces that trauma survivors are able to relax enough to expose themselves to stress-inducing situations and work through them.
The safest and most effective way for a trauma survivor to do this is at their own pace. Just like in exposure or desensitizing therapies, they must have the tools to consciously relax the body once the sympathetic nervous system response is activated. They can do this immediately using the breathing and relaxation techniques taught in yoga and later increase the amount of time they allow themselves to be stressed until the body gets used to it and no longer becomes dysregulated in the position. It’s a practice and an important one that has resoundingly positive ramifications off the mat in real life.
This is the same in any environment, including the workplace, sports teams, or school. However, this is only consistently only possible if the student, player, or practitioner is in charge of how much they expose themselves to the stress and only if they have a coach, teacher, etc whom they trust and who can help them through the process. Only in the case of a licensed and very skilled exposure therapist does this rule change. As most of us aren’t that, we need to step back on the pushing and adopt a stance where the practitioner leads and we celebrate their pace. They will grow at their pace. This is not something we need to worry about. We need to worry about the safety side.
Exposure is all around us. Safe spaces are not.
See my upcoming trainings and workshops to delve more into this and more aspects of trauma sensitivity in yoga and in the workplace.