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What even is Trauma Informed yoga?

trauma informed yoga article by Dr Karina Smith

When Trauma Informed trainings started permeating the Melbourne yoga scene, back around 2015 or close to (chime in if it was earlier than that), it was a huge change to the way the yoga culture had considered verbal cues, hands on assisting, and the hierarchy of "teacher knows best."

To say it radically changed the way people taught yoga is an understatement, and it was necessary!

These were the days when the yogi powerhouses were all under scrupulous review: Bikram, Iyengar, Patabhi Jois, Richard Freeman, to name but a few.

Along the way the "me too" revolution also exploded, and a lot of brave stories were given the space to finally be heard, inviting big change to occur across the globe, but especially within the yoga culture and shala.

However, as somebody who was actively involved in teacher trainings at the time, I noticed the swinging pendulum create something new for emerging yoga teachers; that being a real fear of unintentionally offending or triggering students in their classes by their language choices.

So much so, that new teachers were very anxious to explore their language, or find their own way of expressing something to their students, as if they now had to walk on eggshells because the worst crime you could commit was to offend a student.

I do completely understand that many people come to class and are at all sorts of stages of processing really big things that have happened to them, and these memories, events and traumas can be easily activated at any given time.

Nobody wants to intentionally aggravate another person's pain. And we know that as yoga teachers we are not qualified counsellors or psychotherapists, so we want to stick to our lane and teach thoughtful yoga classes.

Did the pendulum swing too far though?

In my most recent podcast episode with the amazing Grace Tempany we unpack a lot of different things going on in the yin yoga space currently.

Within this awesome conversation, we land on trauma informed yoga for a good chunk of time. We share our thoughts and observations on how the ideas from this teaching perspective have had a big impact on new teachers, leaning into discomfort, and also the disservice that overly bland and non-directive language can be for a person trying to reconnect with themselves.

You can catch the full episode on Spotify HERE, or

Watch the full episode on YouTube below

Are you a trauma informed yoga teacher?

What are your thoughts on how this movement is impacting the yoga space?

Id love to hear your comments on our shared ideas, and how you see this playing out in your corner of the globe.

Love Karina x


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