What is trauma-informed practice?

my core belief

[Caption: an image with a quilted border and a piece of paper with the quote, “My core belief: in order to be ‘trauma-informed,’ yoga must include analysis and reflection around structural oppression.”]

Some of us might think this is obvious, but I can say from both recent and distant experience, that this is NOT a universal value.

Given that the history of yoga — and this country, and really most systems — is fraught with issues of colonization and co-optation, appropriation and assimilation, power and privilege…I firmly believe that to authentically and transparently offer “trauma-informed” or “trauma-sensitive” yoga, we must include some attention to the larger and varied contexts in which this work is happening.

And we must be willing to name that those contexts include genocide, annihilation, assimilation, and oppression – both historically AND in the present.

I am still working out all my thoughts on this, but for now I wanted to share this idea. The reality is this: there is not only a yoga-industrial complex, there is also a trauma-industrial complex. (I do hope that the idea of a “_____-industrial complex” is not a new one for you. But if so, look up what Eisenhower had to say about the military back in the early 60s, and what INCITE has to say more recently about the non-profit version.)

Yes, there are people making loads of money not only off of yoga but off of the idea and reality of trauma. Not everyone who is moving in these worlds is willing or able to face the reality that the conditions which propagate trauma are not incidental but utterly intentional. Trauma is more than a car accident or a “natural disaster.” The trauma of poverty and neglect, the trauma of racism and ableism, of Islamophobia and transphobia, these are but a few of the long litany of realities which cause, catalyze, and compound trauma.

From one trauma steward to another: if you are looking to offer yourself in the role of a trauma steward, you have a responsibility to do your work to acknowledge and grapple with this. And for those of us seeking learning and leadership around these issues, let us be vigilant in who we give our time, money and resources to.

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About bienestarte

Patty Adams is a bilingual clinical social worker, as well as an experienced yoga teacher and anti-oppression trainer. She is devoted to intersectional organizing, liberation, holistic healing arts, and wellness.
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