Imagine sitting in a crowded bar with your date….all is well, the band is playing, food arrives at the table, and the conversation is comfortable. It’s a great evening that feels easy and normal—fun, even. Then, an image of the musician on a low stage, a handsome man surrounded by a throng of cheering women as he plays his guitar. All of a sudden, the bar becomes immediately unsafe. It feels as if all the air has left the building and an elephant sits on your chest. You start to sweat and feel dizzy and panicked and there is no other way to fix it, except to leave—right now. Your date is confused and worried. You feel like an idiot and a wacko and you know in your head that this is a crazy response to a completely normal evening, and yet you are powerless to stop your body from bolting. You try to talk yourself out of it in the bathroom, but coming back with those images still up on stage, you Just. Can’t. Make. It. Work.
So, you leave, in tears and frustration, wondering if you will ever be able to be normal again, as you try to shake off this attack from an invisible enemy. “What is wrong with me?” You think as your heart rate slowly comes down and you catch your breath in the safe car with a man you know you can trust–who is, thankfully, patient and caring and trying to understand.
Sexual trauma is part of my story, and causes reactions just like the one above. This scenario actually happened, as well as many others months and even years after of the original trauma. Thankfully, I found a way out. Yoga was part of my solution—my path back to wholeness. Every class I taught or took helped me gain back control over my body…..the mat, at times, was the one place I felt completely safe, and I knew the sense of peace I got from each hour of practice would linger awhile after class. Thankfully, the teachers I had and the training I received allowed me to find the practice that fit for me. Now I am able to pay it forward and help others to claim their power by finding and trusting their connection to self.
Many of our yoga students and mental health clients have experienced traumatic events and suffer in silence. It is critical that professionals who work with women and men living with trauma notice and pay attention to the cues given. Rather than push, we want to gently respond in ways that can help the student or client manage the feelings and fears that have risen up inside them. Learning what signals to look for, how to respond, how to help as well as what not to do is critical if we are to assist clients in moving toward healthy ways of functioning. Our workshop will provide not only this information, but will also give clarity in defining trauma and addressing how professionals can pay attention to their own responses and possible traumatic pasts. Join us in September to find out how you can be an integral part of wholeness for your students and clients. Click here to register!
Co-written by: Leah Murtagh and Janet Yates