Yoga Ed.’s Professional Institute 3: A Trauma-Informed Training for Youth, provides training for people such as social workers, teachers, counselors, and parents who work with teens who are considered “at-risk.”

But what does this really mean?

Understanding what trauma is, and what it means to be
“at-risk,” are important first steps to understanding how yoga can be a part of the solution.

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What is Trauma?

It’s safe to say that at one point or another, all of us have felt stress in our lives. But what makes everyday stress different from trauma? Trauma refers to an event that overwhelms our ability to cope and respond. When we experience trauma, we feel helpless, hopeless, and out of control.

A person is traumatized when they can’t bring their mind and body back into balance after the event is over. In other words, if you experience a stressful event that you do not recover from, then that event is traumatic.

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Understanding Trauma Matters.

As a source of long-term stress, trauma that remains unresolved can impact our physical, emotional, mental and behavioral state. For people who have experienced trauma, there can be long-lasting, chronic effects on how they think, feel, and behave, as well as on their overall health. Understanding how trauma shows up in the brain, and in the body, allows us to address its symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.

Why At-Risk?

Anyone could be faced with a traumatic event, but a person is considered “at risk” if they are likely to have gone through trauma without having enough resources to deal with that trauma. In the end, it is resources that decide how a person is able to respond or react to trauma. For example, if a child goes through a traumatic event, like losing a parent, getting emotional support from loved ones will help her grieve and move through the loss. But, if she does not have the resources of support, she may hold on to the feelings for a long time, and may feel shame for her grief.

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What happens in the body?

To understand how yoga can help the body bounce back after trauma, take a look at the infographic below:

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How can yoga help?

Because at-risk youth lack outside resources to support them, trauma-informed yoga can help them build life skills from the inside out, so that they can better support themselves. Trauma-Informed Yoga can support at-risk youth in the following ways:

1. Sense of Self

Yoga teaches teens to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings and emotions. And when they connect with their inner experience, they can discover their own sense of self. By building this connection, yoga helps improve their self-esteem, and gives them the confidence to take control over their thoughts and actions. Using the tools they learn in yoga, teens are better able to shift from how they are being, to become who they want to be.

2. Stress Management

Yoga relaxation gives teens the chance to unwind and release their stress. Students learn stress management techniques that are healthy and productive, and can choose the ones that work best for them off the mat.

3. Resilience

Resilience refers to the ability for a person to recover quickly from difficulty or cope with stress. Trauma-informed yoga builds resilience by connecting students with inner resources that helps them to work through their discomfort, understand their experience, and separate their feelings from their actions. Even more, yoga can help youth release pent up tension and trauma, so that they can move on both mentally and physically.