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Notes From The Trauma-Sensitive Yoga 10 Week Course. Week Three: Taking Effective Action

(Facilitator notes from 10-week course)

We’ve covered choice making and interoception- the question now arises- what to do when we’ve made a choice and felt something or vice versa

For many who have experienced trauma it is a challenge to:

1. To feel comfortable making choices

2. To notice body sensations

3. To make choices based on what they feel, essentially a combination of 1 and 2

Effective Action and Trauma

To make a choice based on what we feel we must trust body sensations. However, because of trauma we might default towards an external authority instead of trusting on our own body sensations.

Two potential reasons for this:

1. Trauma alters our relationship with our body, which can lead to a physical disconnect or modify how perceive body sensation. As a result, we might stop making feeling-based choices.

2. Defaulting to an external authority may have been used as a survival mechanism (e.g., used when faced with interpersonal trauma or when the outside danger demanded more attention).

Effect Action in Everyday Life

Outside of the yoga, we often take effective action to increase positive physical and mental sensations. For example, eating when we feel hungry, putting on another layer when we feel cold, making sure we have enough sleep, etc.

Taking Effective Action as Part of a Movement Therapy

In trauma-sensitive yoga every form offers an opportunity for exploring effective action. But its worth noting that not all actions have to feel positive- some yoga shapes might feel uncomfortable- if it’s interesting your welcome to sit with and explore that sensation but you also have the choice to change it.

Taking effective action is making a choice plus noticing that the action has an effect that is grounded in the present moment

Within the treatment of trauma this can be a huge step as it involves several operations:

1. Noticing body sensations

2. Noticing body sensations can be changed i.e., that we are capable of sensing numerous body feelings (e.g., not just those involved in a trauma-response)

3. That we can do something on purpose to change how we feel- i.e., a sense of agency

These processes are key to healthy functioning.

Key Points the Practice Today

Note: not every action has to be profoundly effective. Just feeling comfortable to explore is part of the therapeutic process. Furthermore, for many different reasons we might not be able to carry out a choice (e.g., in the yoga practice sometimes our bodies simply don’t make a particular shape or move in a particular way)- but that is part of self-discovery and learning.

Today- I’ll be linking choice and felt sensations together when cueing. For example, in a forward fold- you might lean forward, this might change how it feels through the back of your leg(s) you might use this sensation to guide how much you want to lean forward.

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