Tips to Make Kids Yoga Classes Trauma Informed
Written by Rochelle Jewell
· Use clear, consistent & predictable class routine.
· Tell children what you will be doing so they know what to expect in class.
Create a Safe Space
· Make physical and emotional safety a priority
· Try to hold class in an area that is quiet and distraction free.
· Close door, if possible, to keep distractions down, but do not lock it.
· Keep room well-lit.
· Give enough space between mats.
· Do not use scents, oils, sprays, etc. Limit your personal use of fragrances.
· Give choices within acceptable limits.
· Allow children to observe, rather than participate.
· Allow children to keep eyes open during class.
· Ask before you touch a student.
· Offer a variety of ways for students to give permission.
· Remember that some children who have experienced trauma may not feel they have the right or ability to say "no."
Use Invitatory Language
· Preschool: Allow language to be engaging and fun, use facial expression to encourage a sense of safety, even while you are being more precise with your directions.
· Elementary: ”You can keep arms up, or down.” “If you are not doing yoga with us, please stay on your mat.” :You can keep your eyes open or closed.”
· Tweens/Teens: “Let’s try…” “Your choice.” “Hands on your hips, your thigh or overhead”
· Adults: “I invite you to…” “You are welcome to…”, “You might…”, “Perhaps…” “Hold here for another breath, or two or three….” “Consider trying….” “You might close your eyes of prefer to take a soft gaze.”
Be willing to adjust how and what you teach
· Be mindful about the use of touch, partner poses, and guided imagery which you might be used to.
· Be flexible with your class plan. Tune into what you are seeing from your students and meet students where they are.
Keep Children Pain Free
· Watch your students' bodies for safe alignment in postures.
· Watch your students’ faces for cues that something is causing pain or is triggering
Empower Students to take care of themselves
· Remind students that yoga is not a contest and not to do anything that hurts.
· Encourage self-awareness
Let go of Outcome and Expectations
· Assume that each child is doing his or her best.
· If a child exhibits behaviors, which are disruptive or unexpected, believe that those behaviors are serving some purpose for that child.
· Remember that it is not your job to "fix" anyone
Commit to Continuing Education
· As new research unfolds, be open to new ideas.
· As with anything, there are differing styles, methods and opinions regarding trauma informed yoga.
· Be clear, yourself, and to your students and their families about what makes your offerings “trauma informed,” if you are promoting them as such.
· The terms “trauma informed” and “trauma sensitive” will mean different things to different people.
· Consider the population you hope to work with, your own personal teaching style and what your intentions are for this work when considering advanced trainings for yourself.
Trauma-Informed Yoga for Children Resources
ChildLight Trauma Informed Yoga and Mindfulness for Youth Workshop with Rochelle Jewell:
November 16, 2018 9am-5pm in Dover, NH
March 15, 2019 8am-4pm in Dover, NH
July 17, 2019 8am-4pm in Dover, NH *Offered as part of our Summer Training Immersion and immediately precedes our Yoga & Mindfulness for Children and Teens with Special Needs Teacher Training
Levine, P. A. (2006). Trauma Through a Child's Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York: Penguin Books.
Emerson, D., & Hopper, E. (2011). Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body. Boston: North Atlantic Books.
Cole, S.F., O'Brien, J. G., et al. (2005). Helping Traumatized Children Learn. Boston: Massachusetts Advocate for Children.
Nakazawa, Donna Jackson. (2015). Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal. New York: Atria Paperback
SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) http://www.samhsa.gov/child-trauma
Mindful Teachers: Mindfulness for Trauma and Violence http://www.mindfulteachers.org/2016/04/yoga-mindfulness-for-trauma-violence.html
ACES too High https://acestoohigh.com/
The Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children https://attach.org/
AOTA Childhood Trauma Fact Sheet https://www.aota.org/-/media/corporate/files/practice/children/schoolmhtoolkit/childhood-trauma.pdf
Resources for Schools to Help Children Affected by Trauma Learn http://www.traumainformedcareproject.org/resources/bibliography of resources for schools to be trauma informed.PDF
Understanding Complex Trauma, Complex Reactions, and Treatment Approaches http://www.giftfromwithin.org/html/cptsd-understanding-treatment.html
Childhood Trauma Infographic http://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/nctsi/nctsi-infographic-full.pdf
ReMoved films about abuse/neglect and children in the foster system. http://www.removedfilm.com/
Stephen Porges (several links to videos, podcasts and written text of his work) http://stephenporges.com/
Yoga for Children: 200+ Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises and Meditations for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Children, by Lisa Flynn
"Play with the practices in this book and bolster your child's resilience and self-esteem as you enhance your relationship." ~ Amy Weintraub
Check out our blog, The Kids Yoga Resource!