Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sequence: Yoga For Trauma Survivors with Restorative Yoga Sequence
Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sequence is a therapeutic, restorative type of yoga sequence with yoga poses for the nervous system to heal trauma survivors.
As told by Dr. Bessel A Van Der Kolk, M.D, a clinician and teacher in the area of PTSD- "Yoga attends to the body and the breath. and attends to the stillness. It allows you to feel everything you feel, to tolerate every sensation, and to live and move with it.”
Before you follow the given yoga sequence, kindly understand Trauma Sensitive Yoga by reading an article at the following link: Trauma Sensitive Yoga
The Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sequence given below offers an opportunity to experience a change in the mental state of trauma survivors. It is generally seen that trauma survivors suffer from imbalance within both, the physical as well as the mental body. Using a scientific approach in the yoga sequence (with the use of yoga poses, pranayama, and meditation), the imbalance can be taken care of, thus paving a path towards healing. It is believed that restorative yoga practice in a therapeutic way brings about changes in both the sympathetic (fight or flight response), and the parasympathetic nervous system ('rest and digest,' or 'feed and breed').
The Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sequence is structured for yoga teachers to teach the same over a period of three months. Hence, this sequence has three mini sequences that need to be followed in the same pattern. To get a better understanding of the yoga sequence with 35 yoga poses, given below is an overview of the same:
Awakening: This mini yoga sequence has 10 yoga poses to be done on a chair and is considered a restorative chair yoga sequence, for which the details are given in the cues.
Centering: This mini yoga sequence has 13 yoga poses that are done while seated and considered a restorative seated yoga sequence, the details of which are given in the cues.
Balance: The final mini yoga sequence has 12 standing yoga poses, including pranayama, and is considered a restorative balance yoga sequence; the details are given in the cues.
The given yoga sequences can be used for both Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Since PTSD is a clinically diagnosed condition, taking advice from a medical practitioner is essential before attempting to practice this trauma sensitive yoga sequence.
For additional benefit, reading the TRE series of exercises should be considered. For the same, please visit: Yoga Therapy (TRE)
DISCLAIMER: The information given here is not to be considered for medical treatment and is for educational purposes only. Taking advice from a family doctor and/or a trained yoga therapist, before the practice of this yoga sequence, is advised.
Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sequence: Yoga for Trauma Survivors with Restorative Yoga Sequence: Yoga Poses, Cues, Steps, and Breathing instructions
Yoga Sequence Builder for Yoga Teachers: Plan your yoga classes, build yoga sequencing foundation with sequence guides, and get yoga sequencing ideas with daily yoga sequences and reference cues.
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A. Trauma survivors always live in fear and have no control over their physical and emotional changes. And when they choose the path of therapeutic healing with yoga, it is the yoga instructor's duty to look at each survivor as an independent individual and choose the poses in the sequence keeping each survivor's situation in mind.
B. The below sequence, is just to give an idea and example.
Here at this stage, we are using these poses for those survivors who need extra care, and time to know and connect with their bodies, at their own pace.
C. Focusing on awakening their bodies with stretches that are most comfortable to them with proper guidance.
A. Start seating, all the participants in the class on their respective chairs.
B. Giving them time to settle, watch their body language and judge their situation without asking too many questions.
C. If someone is not comfortable sitting in front of the class, or is not comfortable showing their back to others, let them choose their own spot of comfort. It could be close to the wall or at the corner of the class.
Make them sit around in a circle, would also be a good idea.
D. After they have settled, let them join their palms in namaste, close to their chest in Hands Chest Chair pose, while having their eyes OPEN, as they may not be comfortable shutting their eyes.
E. Let them just go with the flow of breath requesting them to count as they breath, if it is OK for them. The counting can go to 12 breaths.
F. As they breath, their focus would slowly be towards the sensation of the air through their nostrils, which brings them to start body connection. Making the instructions clear and conveying them in a polite tone, would be encouraged.
Placing cushions for their back, hips and feet will give more support and comfort.
A. After the 12 counts of breathing seated in Hands Chest Chair, let them relax.
B. Requesting them and showing them how to place the thumb and the ringer finger at the tips of their nostrils, teach them to breathe ONE nostril at a time.
C. While closing their right nostril, they breathe through their left nostril (inhale and exhale) in counts of 8.
D. Releasing and repeating with the right nostril, (inhale and exhale) through the right nostril only for counts of 8.
E. They may take lesser time to complete 8 rounds, as their breathing would be fast and not deep. You could ask them to repeat and also request them to choose that nostril first which is smooth and comfortable.
F. They can work longer with the nostril that is smooth and easy, as this would give them a feeling of satisfaction and comfort. The idea here in this pose, is to open their nostrils to help them breath better while doing each pose in this sequence.
G. Let them settle, to go back to just breathing normally, after the completion of the variation of Nadi Shodhana Chair.
A. Still seated, request them to raise their arms interlocking their fingers above their heads to go into Upward Hands Stretch Pose or Chair Urdhva Hastasana.
B. Show them how to inhale as they raise and exhale once in the pose, while holding the arms up for counts of 8. Show them the movement of the body as the breathing happens.
C. The stretching of the arms here helps them to ease the body pain around the muscles close to the shoulders and the neck, as with trauma, these muscles hold back and become stiff and tight.
D. CHRONIC BODY PAIN, is one of the main symptoms of Trauma and Stress, as the muscles get tight and remain under fear always. Opening up these muscles slowly starting with the upper body here will help to improve in the breathing and the stiffness.
E. Choosing not to do this pose, by the survivors should be appreciated, as raising the arms may hold them back and bring back some memories. The alternative is to request them to bring their arms in FRONT of them.
A. From Urdhva Hastasana, allow them to settle and relax with both their body and their breath.
B. Preparing for the next pose, Seated Side Stretch Pose. Show them how to raise their arms above your head towards the opposite side while slowly looking up.
C. Raising your arms above slowly activates the sides of your back, flexing your hips and arms.
This will help them to release the tightness around the various muscles and also help them to feel their bodies with each movement and each breath.
D. Giving them time to understand this pose and the time to feel the stretch, continue demonstrating the pose with the breathing.
E. Choosing not to look up here is OK. And choosing not to do this pose, then they can be requested to bring the arms to SHOULDER level as variation.
F. Holding the chair let them slowly count for 5 breaths, in this pose, releasing and repeating with the other side.
A. While still seated, request them to come forward while sitting close to the edge of the chair, and making sure the feet are comfortable on the floor.
B. Show them to inhale and with exhalation, turn the torso gently towards the right, looking back if possible. Placing on arm on the thighs and the other on the back of the chair, show the movement of the spine and the chest.
C. This pose with the gentle twist will open the tight shoulders, stiff neck, tight hips and lower back while encouraging prana flow without much effort.
D. It is not necessary to give the benefits of the practice of each pose, but on the other hand, requesting them to breath loud and deep, will help them connect with their bodies.
E. Let them try to remain in this Chair Seated Twists, for about 4 breaths or counts, showing them the movement of the body and the chest in general while at the pose.
F. Releasing to repeat with the other side, counting for 4 breaths or 4 counts.
A. After the practice of Chair Seated Twists, allow the students to just relax at their own pace. Taking breaks should be encouraged to help them feel less pushed and make them feel that they are under control.
B. The comfort of the mind here is most important and respecting that will help them connect with you more.
C. Moving on with the sequence, show them the movement of Head Down while seated on the Chair. Inhaling stretching upwards and while exhaling going down while resting the palms on the floor and placing the face close to the thighs or knees.
D. After stretching upwards and sideways, a forward bend completes the movement of the spine. Here moving forward, the spine stretches giving a gentle stretch to the lumbar area where the prana flows upwards and downwards.
E. Showing them the breathing technique while compressing their abdomen, make the breathing loud and deep.
F. DIGESTION gets affected with Trauma and there are cases where one can develop IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) when it is a stage of PTSD ( Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder). Hence in this pose, a gentle slow massage with deep breathing, can be helped to reduce this symptom and also increase the digestion levels.
G. Choosing not to do this pose due to pressure on the belly is OK, and as an alternative, you could show them to go forward in this pose, but not press the entire belly, while stretching the arms out in front of you.
H. Staying here for about 5 counts or 5 breaths is encouraged, while releasing and repeating it for the second time.
A. Releasing from the previous pose, allow the practitioner to relax and take rest.
B. Standing in front of the chair, either facing the back of the chair or the seated part of the chair should be their choice.
C. Inhale, and raise upwards and as you exhale bend forward while placing the hands on the chair stretching the arms and the legs completely, in Adho Mukha Svanasana Variation.
D. This pose is best done , making sure they don't have their back facing others. Here stretching the arms and the hips will help them open up the tight hips while working with their tired legs and feet.
E. Showing them how to breathe while holding the balance, and choosing between looking up or looking down. The flow of blood towards the head, in this pose may bring discomfort to some, and hence, modify the pose. Looking straight or choosing not to bend completely as per the body comfort should be encouraged.
F. Holding the body here for count of 5 breaths or more, and then to release and practice again.
A. While all the above poses in the sequence were practiced to just open the body with deep loud breathing, a small addition of strength and power pose to help them feel accepted and confident is added.
B. Practicing Virabhadrasana II or Warrior Pose II on the chair is all about encouraging confidence and balance. While this pose is considered to be powerful when done standing, the benefits derived here would be more towards balance and strength.
C. Showing them how to place the legs on the chair while spreading them to one's comfort, extend the arms out at shoulder level while gazing at the arm in front of you.
D. Help them to learn to balance with slow instructions and making sure not to touch them while they try this pose. Allowing them to take their time to get comfortable in this pose is very important.
E. Choosing not to do this pose, then as a variation, they can sit with the lower body in Virabhadrasana while their arms can rest on the sides. Breathing loud and deep for about 4 counts, and then releasing to turn towards the other side to repeat.
F. Make sure that the instructions are slow and clear while also the voice is polite and humble.
Let them take time to rest and relax before practicing with the other leg.
A. By now their breathing would be better and they may have gotten comfortable with the breathing too.
B. Seated on the chair, place another chair in front of them. Resting the arms on the back of the chair in front of you, show them the posture Seated Forward Fold Pose, to completely come to relax with the breathing and the body.
C. Here this pose will help them rest the entire body, while the breathing should be soft and deep, if possible.
D. Choosing not to do this pose, they can practice relaxing while just seated on the chair with their hands in Namaste in front of their chest, or on their thighs, as they started in the beginning.
E. Beginning to get comfortable with the sequence one could request them to repeat if OK.
F. Each student should be encouraged to relax in this pose, whenever he/ she wants and give them time to understand, adapt, adjust and practice at their will.
Giving them HOME PRACTICE with either the same poses or additional poses should be done to help them learn to feel comfortable at their own homes with practice.
A. The idea of practice of the various poses, is not to build flexibility, or to master the number of breaths in the given time, but to just open up the tight muscles. Muscles around the joints tend to get tight, with stress related to trauma, giving rise to body aches and pain. Hence working with opening up these muscles while the movement is slow and steady is what is needed.
B. Making them repeat the sequence all over again, or the choice of any two or more of the poses in the sequence that encourages them to feel comfortable can be done.
C. Pushing them beyond their comfort zone is uncalled for.
A. Moving further with the practice is towards centering both the body and the mind after getting comfortable with the awakening of the physical body.
B. Here in this sequence, the practitioners should be comfortable to be seated, as the choice of the poses are all seated. Choosing seated poses will encourage them to feel safe and grounded while also building flexibility.
C. They should now be ready to practice beyond their comfort zone and learn to adapt with the stretch and follow the breathing pattern.
D. Instructions here should be clear, accurate and firm, but still with a polite tone.
A. Coming to sit on the floor on their mats, seated at the centre, give them time to settle down.
B. Once settled, join the hands in front of the heart (while explaining the meaning of Namaste), and comfortably placing the feet one behind the other, or one above the other, request them to keep their eyes closed.
C. Closing of eyes again is their choice, but if they were comfortable while practicing Level 1, then they should be encouraged to close their eyes here.
D. Teaching them how to breathe, while the breath is NOT loud but yet deep. Opening the chest and the abdomen here while breathing should be encouraged. Breathing for 12 rounds of breath or more will slowly help to unlock the blocked energy deep inside.
E. Sukhasana or Siddhasana, both can be used here based on their comfort. Sitting on cushions or on extra blankets is good, giving the hips an elevation to open up faster.
A. Releasing from Easy pose with just breathing, teach them to place their hands to practice Three Part Breath or Dirga Pranayama.
B. Placing the left hand on the belly, close to the navel and the right hand on the chest, palms facing inwards, close your eyes and sit extending the spine.
C. This kind of breathing called the THREE PART breath, actively uses the abdomen, the belly, the lower part of the chest and the lower part of the throat.
D. Showing them how to inhale and fill air into the belly, slowly moving upwards to the lower part of the chest and then finally the throat.
E. Exhale and release from the throat first, the chest and finally the belly.
F. Repeat this process of breathing, keeping the breath slow and steady, while using the palms of the hands to feel and connect with the movement of the body. Practice this for about 20 rounds.
G. This kind of breathing should be continuous, inhaled and exhaled through the nose only. Teach them to watch for the expansion of the lungs, the chest, the abdomen. This beautiful connection with their hands and the movement of the body with each breath, will encourage self love and acceptance.
This kind of breathing, Dirga Pranayama is nourishing, calming and relaxing. It helps one to connect with the inner self using the hands to also feel the movement of the body along with the breath.
A. Releasing from Dirga Pranayama, give the students some time to relax. Then show them the way to rotate the head both clockwise and anticlockwise, in very slow movements while the eyes are open for better comfort.
B. Neck Rotation in Sukhasana or Siddhasana, helps to relieve the stress and the tightness around the thoracic region of the spine. This movement should be done 4 times with 4 breaths clockwise and the same anticlockwise.
C. Seated with cushions for better support is helpful. Movement should be slow, taking care not to get injured while rotating. While rotating they may experience sharp pain or discomfort, in which case, they can be told to move the head down and up to start with.
D. Once they are comfortable with this movement, then rotations can be added. Watching them and observing them is a good way to alter and modify the poses to make it comfortable for them.
A. From the rotations, teach them to practice Easy Pose Raised Arms Pose.
B. Show them to raise their hands above the head with an inhalation and exhale once in position.
C. This pose with eyes closed is beneficial, as watching from within, the movement of the body and extending the arms above the head with every exhalation. Requesting them to stay in this pose for about 5 counts of breaths.
D. A very simple pose to reduce aches and pains around the shoulders and the neck when stretching the arms deeper upwards. This gentle expansion, activates the spine from the base to the crown.
E. Physical symptoms start to manifest when the body is in constant distress, while the nervous system is in constant survival mode. Hence with the simple movements brings the nerves into relax mode bringing them back to normal.
A. While still seated in Sukhasana or Siddhasana, relax taking a few breaths.
B. Show them the practice of Sukhasana variation Side Bend. While placing the left arm on the floor, stretch the right arm above the head while gazing up.
C. Breathing should be slow, deep and long, showing them the breathing as the body moves. Holding the posture for about 4 breaths or as they feel comfortable.
D. Physical pain here can be tackled by focusing on the alignment to some extent. While the breathing will help them expand deeper, addressing the calming of the nervous system is being done in a passive mode.
E. Release, relax, repeat with the other side. Make them aware that it is always easier on one side when compared to the other side and encourage them to open up the side that is more stiff.
F. Placing extra blankets towards the sides to rest the arms will be helpful to enjoy the stretch.
A. With all the side bends and side stretches and rotations, the spine is now ready to go forward.
B. After relaxing in a few breaths in Sukhasana, let them stretch the legs out in front of them while placing blankets or cushions below their knees.
C. Taking a few breaths here, let them learn to extent their torso upwards, while seated comfortably.
D. Show them how to inhale, raise the torso, exhale and bend slightly forward, flexing the hips and the shoulders, to hold their toes with their hands.
E. Exhale completely and bend to reach for the toes with the hands. The cushions below their knees will not make the pose, Padangustha Dandasana, uncomfortable.
F. Remain here for about 5 breaths, teaching them to go deeper with every exhalation.
Disturbing thoughts, feelings, emotions that happen due to Trauma, causing further Stress Disorder, can be released with the practice of this pose.
This pose also helps to activate the FIRST THREE CHAKRAS- the Root, Sacral and the Solar, which are all connected to the emotions, fears, passion and self confidence.
A. Moving a little deeper, with focus towards strength and balance, the next pose will help.
B. Seated after taking rest, releasing from Staff Hand to Big Toe Pose, show them how to bend the knees while placing the feet close to you.
C. Inhale hold the knees within your arms, pressing the thighs and the knees close to your chest, and exhale.
D. Inhale again and slowly lift the feet off the floor, balancing the entire body on the two sit bones, in Cosmic Egg pose or Brahmandasana.
E. While this pose would take time to learn, give them time and also watch the SMILE on their faces while learning to balance. A small smile is good enough to bring the stress levels within the physical and the emotional aspect of the body.
F. The effect of this pose would be more towards balance and self control. This will help them gain self confidence and feel in control of their bodies leading to control of their emotions.
G. Holding this pose for about 5 counts or more is the choice of the practitioner till they get it right and are comfortable.
H. Taking the support of the wall at the beginning will help to gain confidence.
A. In continuation from Cosmic Pose, teach them to go in a flow to Navasana Variation i or Boat Pose Variation i.
B. In Boat Pose Variation i, exhale and stretch the legs out while still balancing the body on the sit bones. The knees bend while the lower part of the leg stretches, pointing the toes upwards.
C. Using the belly muscles teach them to hold the pose in balance. This pose helps to gain self confidence with focus and control. While this pose too may bring a SMILE on their faces, encourage them to breath in the pose to hold longer.
D. Holding the pose for 5 counts of breathing, they can release to repeat the practice.
A. It is believed that a lot of stress is held in the hips and, around the muscles close to the hips and the lower back.
B. Based on these findings, practicing TRE is useful to release these tensions and stress that are blocked deep within, along with these sequences.
C. From Dandasana, taking a few breaths to relax, sit extending the torso upwards.
D. Inhale and bend the left knee, while placing the feet close to the perineum. Placing the hands on the floor, close to you, raise the body, and bring the right leg behind you, while sitting on the left side of the hips on the floor.
E. Sitting on one side of the hips, here in Kapotasana or Pigeon pose, will help in opening the hip muscles while giving a deep stretch to the entire back.
F. The pose should not bring any kind of discomfort or add to the physical pain. But the extra stretch felt, should not discourage the practice of Pigeon Pose.
Extending the right leg behind should help in sitting better.
G. Placing cushions and sitting on them should take care of the balance of the body. Initially this pose would be hard on the knees, lower back, hips and the thighs, but with practice, the hips will open and the benefits of this pose will be derived.
H. Holding this pose on each side of the hip for about 4 breaths or counts, should help.
Release to sit back in Dandasana, relax and repeat with the other leg.
A. In a flow moving from Pigeon Pose, take the torso in Sleeping Swan Pose.
B. Exhaling and stretching the torso while bending forward to go in a deep stretch, resting the arms and the head on the floor in front of you.
C. Showing them the movement in a FLOW from Pigeon Pose to Sleeping Swan Pose, the flexibility improves at the hips and the back.
D. While bending forward, teach them the beautiful movement of the torso with every exhalation. This sensation will allow them to connect deeper with the body while understanding the connection between breath and movement of spine.
E. This forward fold will help them to improve in their breathing using the diaphragm, throat and the abdomen (THREE PART Breath).
F. All forward fold poses relaxes the blood movement in the body, bringing calmness and soothing the mind.
G. High levels of CORTISOL (a steroid hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body), is bad for the body. It leads to the dropping of the immune system, increases anxiety, stress and rage, causes delusions etc.
H. Thus with this forward bend the calming of the body, reducing the level of cortisol will help.
To be done for about 4 breaths, release to repeat with the other leg.
A. A lot of poses above are more towards opening the body with various movements of the spine, encouraging blood circulation.
But given that the trauma survivors have a lot of emotions built up deep within, helping them to vent out these emotions in an indirect way will make their body feel light and happy.
B. Hence with that in mind we move forward with the practice of pranayama and here introducing them to Lion Pose or Simhasana is a good beginning.
C. Releasing from Sleeping Swan Pose, let them sit in Easy Pose here comfortably.
D. We will show them the practice of Simhasana Pose seated in EASY POSE.
E. Before you begin explain and show them how it is done, as not all would be comfortable and ready for this practice.
But if they do, they may initially LAUGH and SMILE and connect with the others, which is a good thing.
F. Inhale and as you exhale bring the tongue out extending completely, while locking the chin towards your chest.
G. While doing this make the sound of AAaaaa.......with the open mouth bringing a wide smile on the face.
H. Holding the tongue out is very important here. The sound of AAaaa...is a choice they make. Sound till the exhalation completely happens.
I. This pose has so many benefits, but the most important one is the facial muscles are activated, reducing stress and pain around the neck and the head.
J. Le this done 4 times, extending the exhalation longer each time, and taking rest between each round. Allow the students to make their choice, if they want to do at all and if so how many times.
To get the maximum benefit from the practice of this pose kindly ready a detail article on the same.
A. Always relaxing at the end of any sessions encourages the balancing of the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.
B. Activating the body with poses related to cardio and increasing the heart beat, and then relaxing in rest poses, it is believed that the balance of the nervous system is better and faster.
C. Here, the idea is to bring balance and hence lying down on the floor on your backs closer to the wall is the next and the last pose of the sequence.
D. Placing bolsters or cushions below your hips and back, raise the legs up the wall in Legs Up The Wall Pose or Viparita Karani.
E. Allow them to completely surrender themselves here and hold this pose for about 15 minutes. They can close their eyes if comfortable, else they can slowly get into the comfort zone with their bodies and then decide to close their eyes.
F. The choice of playing some soft music in the background which soothes their bodies and mind, if they are comfortable will help.
A. The first set of yoga sequence under awakening - is more to do with opening up in their comfort zone.
B. The second set of yoga sequence under centering - is more towards, stretching along with breathing forming connections. Adding a few pranayama to balance their parasympathetic nervous system. At the passive end a balance was slowly building without their knowledge and without emphasising the benefits of each pose.
C. The last set of yoga sequence under balance - is more to bring power and strength in both the physical and the mental part of the body.
D. Explaining the benefit of each pose while demonstrating the pose. Encouraging them to go beyond their comfort zone, and setting low targets here is also encouraged. Hence this level should be only attempted after they come out successful with the practice of both the mini yoga sequence.
A. Here, in this sequence introduction of yoga poses is done at a deeper level in terms of stretch, flexibility and awareness.
B. Standing pose are encouraged here to allow them to be in control with their physical body and their mental state.
C. It is proven that both parts of the human body needs to be given attention, as attending only to one, the trauma survivor will never be completely out of stress and their would be deep hidden emotions somewhere.
A. As the breathing is more clear, strong and smooth, the students now have control over their breath.
B. Begin to request them to stand at the centre of the mat, in simple Tadasana and take a few breaths. Start with the chanting of OM along with the hands joined at the heart in Namaste for about 6 times.
Relax after the chanting of OM.
C. Then Inhale and raise your above your head, while centering the whole body in a neat alignment from the tips of the fingers to the feet.
D. Exhale completely and begin a slow deep inhalation, while closing your eyes. With every exhalation the extension of the arms go deeper upwards.
E. Encourage them to go deeper in the pose following their breath. Encourage them to close their eyes for a short time if not for the entire 10 counts of breaths.
F. Encourage them to watch the movement of the body as the breathing happens, along with balance and control.
G. The expansion of the arms above the head helps to improve the breathing using the rib cage and the diaphragm to the maximum.
A. In a flow you can teach them to release, from Crescent High Lunge Pose to go into Ashta Chandrasana Variation Hands on thighs.
B. If it is difficult, then they could come back to Goddess pose, and then go into following the same instructions as in Crescent High Lunge pose, but here the hands are placed on the edge of the knees in front of you.
C. Pressing the hands helps to expand the chest and the shoulders, while gazing forward and focusing on the breath to balance the body.
D. Encourage them to stay here longer, and if comfortable they can close their eyes to understand their body and mind connections better.
E. Stay for about 4 breaths, release to come back to Goddess Pose and then repeat with the other side for holding up to 4 breaths.
A. As they would be comfortable understanding the body movement with the breathing, taking the sequence a level deeper is with the practice of Half Moon Pose.
B. From the practice of Ashta Chandrasana, request them to stand close to the wall with their back towards the wall in simple Tadasana taking a few breaths.
C. Bringing their feet wide apart, show them how to stand close to the wall, using the lower back to rest on the wall while not putting the entire body weight on the wall.
D. Placing a block close to their left foot, close to the wall, inhale and raise the right leg up, almost bringing it at hip level, and go downwards with the torso towards the left foot and bring the hand on the yoga block.
E. It is best to show them how to do it first. Place the left hand on the yoga block, while taking the right arm above the shoulder and head in a straight line to the shoulders.
F. Balance here in Ardha Chandrasana using the wall and the block for support, for about 4 breaths or lesser. Here slowing having awareness of the right leg and bringing it in line to the hip, will come with practice.
G. A good amount of flexibility and balance is encouraged here in this pose. While at the passive level the spine begins to extend working gradually on the various nerves that are connected to the brain to improve the communication.
H. Release, slowly bringing the leg down, relax again standing in Star Pose against the wall for a few breaths.
I. Repeat the other side taking the pose for about 4 breaths.
B. While poses brings about strength, flexibility and pranayama brings about awareness, calmness and stability, meditation helps to remain calm within and connect deep inside oneself to understand the body inside out.
C. The next two poses are all about awareness while awakening the inner self and loving the inner self.
A. Maha Mudra, is done seated on the floor. Sitting with both legs stretched out in front of you, take a few breaths.
B. Fold the right leg, bending the knee and placing the right foot close towards the inner left thighs, while the left leg is stretched out in front of you.
C. Inhale and raise the hands to hold the toes of the left foot. Get comfortable with this position first.
D. Then inhale and hold the breath, while pulling in the belly, and locking the chin towards the chest.
E. Hold the breath inside for about 10 seconds or lesser. Raise the head up, release the lock at the throat and then the belly to exhale completely.
F. Relax to repeat this for about 2 rounds with each leg. Then repeat with the other leg.
G. This pose though considered an Advanced Level Pose, here we modify it just to hold the breath, without locking all the three bandhas.
H. The holding of the breath is more important than the Bandhas, here, to help in stimulating the internal organs all at once.
The various glands begin to work, get active slowly encouraging the balance in the body. IMBALANCE is one main cause of Trauma, and working slowly with this imbalance will take time.
Hence here the use of the belly muscles takes care of various organs, the various systems in the body and keeps the cortisol in control.
Go slow with this practice and give them time to understand and figure out the use of the breath and the lock.
A. Another way to encourage awakening is Candle Gazing.
B. Releasing from Maha Mudra, let them completely relax with the breath, while helping them to calm their body.
C. Seated crossed leg, place candles in front of the students. Slowly explaining the need to TURN off the lights or, reducing the brightness of the room, request for the same to be done.
Placing a burning candle in front of them, encourage them to look at the burning candle, while they focus only on the breathing.
D. Staring at the candle alone will encourage deep connections within, while also taking their minds away from the distractions around them.
E. It is generally not encouraged to keep the room very dark for Trauma Survivors, but here since they have worked with their bodies and the minds with the practice of LEVEL 1 & LEVEL 2 sequence, they should be ready for the same.
F. Sitting in a less dark room , while just gazing at the burning candle, will help them fight their fears and discomfort in their bodies and in their thought process.
G. After staring at the candle, for about 90 counts, they should be encouraged to CLOSE their eyes. While closing their eyes, they should picture the burning candle and focus on this light deep within.
H. Allow them to use their space and comfort zone, and if this practice is alarming to them or brings back Flashbacks, discontinue immediately while apologising to them.
I. Some may not want to even try this, some may want some time, some may want to give it a try, while some may feel extremely comfortable doing this. Therefore, go with the flow of the thought process of the students who are your patients too.
A. Falling asleep while they rest in any resting pose, should be encouraged.
B. The idea of rest is not to connect with the breathing here, but to encourage them to sleep even at a new place.
C. IF they are comfortable, allow them to rest for about 15 mins, here , in Salamba Bharadvajasana or Supported Bharadvajasana Twist Pose.
D. Resting here, curling their bodies with the help of bolsters is what gives them comfort. Settling themselves down on the floor here, let them rest for about 15 mins, either with eyes open or close.
Thus ends the THREE sequences that need to be followed step by step to watch and learn from the body movements of the survivors, and to adapt, modify, change, alter the poses, as and when needed.
Good Health Always!