The Inner Warrior Method: A Comprehensive Guide to Trauma-Conscious Yoga

These classes are built with empowering, relatable, non-religious, and non-esoteric themes that emphasize the experience of the discovery of The Inner Warrior within each of us.

What is Trauma-Conscious Yoga?

Trauma-Conscious Yoga, also commonly known as Trauma-Aware, Trauma-Sensitive, and Trauma-Informed – is more than just another style of yoga. Psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk describes trauma as, “not just an event that took place sometime in the past; but also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.” With a mindful approach to understanding trauma, this approach to the teaching yoga takes into consideration the understanding of the various forms of trauma and how to safely guide a class into a mind-body connection without the risk for triggering or re-exposure.

This style of yoga offers a gentle, non-religious, non-esoteric approach that is great for those who may be new to yoga or may benefit from a simple activity without feeling over-stimulated or intimidated. It emphasizes on promoting deep breathing, easy-to-follow mindfulness techniques, and slow, gentle movement – all aimed to building healthy coping skills, increased self-awareness and self-acceptance.

Trauma-Conscious Yoga is often taught teachers with extensive education in a social science related field, and/or the addition of a trauma-informed training. Having the background knowledge and awareness is crucial when serving an at-risk or underserved group within the community. Though this type of yoga does not replace the work of experts such as therapists and social workers, it serves as a great supplement in the trauma-recovery process.

The Inner Warrior Method

The Inner Warrior is a supplemental program developed to address the regulation of the nervous system, which can be activated through acute or chronic stress, including the affects of trauma. It focuses on the benefits of yoga that could aid in developing healthy coping skills, increased self-awareness, and self-acceptance through activities such as deep breathing, gentle movement, and focusing on the present moment – known as mindfulness. These three activities offer a method for self-calming of the of the nervous-system response to stress and trauma, by consciously slowing down the breath rate, and focusing on the body rather than preoccupations or troubling thoughts in the mind. Thus, The Inner Warrior method allows those practicing these skills to reclaim control of their emotions and sensations of the body.

This program was intentionally titled The Inner Warrior because it can allow those to comfortably process their internal sensations and traumas through a casual activity like yoga – and discover their inner strength to take control of their emotions and sensations, instead of being controlled by them. These classes are built with empowering, relatable, non-religious, and non-esoteric themes that emphasize the experience of the discovery of The Inner Warrior within each of us. It acknowledges that each of us are on our own version of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”, in which despite facing a crisis, we can manage to overcome and transform from that experience.

Many whom have experienced trauma develop defense mechanisms that may show up in ways such as social defensiveness, barrier building, dissociation, and isolation. These are mechanisms developed in response to wanting to protect against experiencing more trauma, but can be unhealthy when building interpersonal relationships or working toward recovery. Thus, yoga teachers must be able to identify and react appropriately when faced with students who may exhibit one or more of these defense mechanisms and know how to respond appropriately. This includes using non-reactive approaches such as re-direction or offering alternatives. Teachers must know how to speak to others not by a place of authority or superiority, but at the same level as them. This means maintaining a high level of respect toward their students, and allowing those students to feel acknowledged, welcomed, and encouraged – so that they can let go of any barriers they may be building, and become more open to their treatment methods, and more flexible to changing any harmful thought patterns they may be putting themselves in.

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