Our problems exist to motivate us to grow and change. Many of us need a push or a pull to get moving when it comes to facing the things that truly scare us, feel overwhelming, are outside of our comfort zone, or feel beyond our current capacity. Some of us have also lived through some very painful or challenging experiences and they have left an impression in our bodies, behaviours, and psyches. The only good that can be made of them is to use them as energy to keep our selves growing in a positive direction. However, before we can effectively do that, we have to feel and transform them. That alone can be the obstacle that keeps us stuck in re-experiencing them just as we did the first time, or avoiding having anything to do with them.
Eating disorders and emotional trauma are not the same thing, but they spring from some of the same roots. Many people who have experienced trauma have tried coping with feelings that persist by restricting and regulating their thoughts and bodies. Many people with eating disorders felt interpersonally uncomfortable or anxious long before they got restrictive in their relationship with food. Fear is present in both. We feel out of control, so we try to regain control. It makes sense. But our minds and bodies don’t like to be clamped down for long and they will start to resist. They push us to grow. If we close our ears and minds to inner promptings, then pretty soon new external ones start to crop up.
The yoga philosophy and practices that have endured over the centuries have evolved and been adapted to the culture of the time. People haven’t changed that much, but our cultural conditions do have differences. Women in particular have opportunities they have never had before on this scale in recorded history. Those opportunities come along with new challenges as well as all the old ones that still exert their pull. They shape the way we feel about ourselves: what we can have, what we want, what feels missing, and what we deny ourselves in a trade agreement to get other things. All people of all ages can experience trauma and eating disorders, but women and girls are disproprionately likely to do so in comparison to men. Interestingly, we also seem to know what helps us, and like no other time in history, yoga practitioners are disproportionately female and educated. It’s also true that some yoga classes, concepts, language, and class room environments, can arouse in us feelings of safety, whereas others feel less safe. Likewise, some of the instructions and practices can inadvertedly nurture eating disorder behaviour rather than shifting it. So it makes sense that yoga practices that are adapated to the needs of women and men with eating disorders and who have experienced trauma would better serve them.
In this experiential weekend workshop we will learn about the following:
- An introduction to symptoms of trauma and eating disorders as they manifest in the body-mind
- Yoga practices for people experiencing the after effects of emotional trauma and eating disorders that can help manage, decrease, and transform existing symptoms
- Yoga therapy models for understanding symptoms and methods to shift them
- Contraindications, safety considerations, relevant ethical guidelines, and common emotional challenges that show up in class and relationships
This 2-day training is intended for yoga practitioners, teachers, and therapists at all levels except absolute beginners. The training is designed to facilitate personal growth and to enhance existing yoga teaching and yoga therapy skills. Mental health professionals with experience practicing yoga who want to incorporate yoga techniques into their existing services relevant to these conditions will be offered techniques that can provide a foundation for integrating as approproriate to your scope of competence.
Goals for this training are:
- To expand your comfort zone with feeling, and responding to the feelings of another, when in the grip of trauma and disorder eating patterns. The first calling is to be a yoga practitioner facilitating your own growth.
- To provide tools and strategies to help yourself or your student/client in group classes and 1:1 interactions:
a) in the moment when immediate relief is needed
b) across time through incorporation of practice elements and strategies to shift your/your student/client’s baseline state to greater equanimity
Everything changes, even those things we knowingly or unknowingly rigidly hold onto. We can influence the direction of change, but we cannot fully determine it. The more clearly we know and see ourselves as we are, the more effectively we can create changes in our lives that we may enjoy. Once we have tasted a sweet experience, we naturally want to know how to re-create it. Once we have created it, we need to know how to sustain it. This workshop is about helping you to make the best use of the yoga tools you are already using so those lingering states of mind that bind you loosen their hold and transform into the energy that helps you grow.