Dalai Lama Center: Heart Mind Yoga for Trauma and Stress with Nicole Marcia

Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Tim Goedhart

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Tim Goedhart

Part one of the two-part video series from the Dalai Lama Center is a Heart-Mind Q & A format with Nicole Maria, a trauma-informed yoga therapist. She talks about creating spaces and creating practices that support an experience of safety, particularly for people who are travelling through the somatic after effects of traumatic experience.

She defines safety as being in relationships with people that break down power dynamics, spaces that enable feelings of safety, behaviours and language on the part of the teacher that are trigger-sensitive.

In dealing with teens, who are in a developmental stage of increased sensitivity to environment and power dynamics, and who are in process of moving through a series of fluctuating relational positions within families and social structures, what actions and behaviours on the part of adults can contribute to a sense of interactional safety? Nicole stresses the importance for teens of knowing that they have choices, and inviting them to explore options. She explores the language of invitation both in instructional settings and interpersonal communication. Invitation and choice demonstrate kindness towards and compassion for the other.

The second of the two videos introduces yoga as a tool for teens to use to manage stress. Nicole guides the viewer through a simple and accessible 10-minute seated breath and movement practice for stress-reduction that can take place anywhere one is comfortably seated, such as a desk, a bus, or at home. This practice is offered as a potential introduction to trauma-informed practice with teens.

Some things we know about stress are that it can create a lot of tension, it can be distracting, and sometimes even interfere in our work and our relationships. It has also been demonstrated that using our breath and certain body movements can assist in relieving tension and can have a calming effect on the body, helping to increase focus and sense of connectedness.

Nicole stresses, in introducing the exercise, that the individual is always open to opt in or out to any of the suggestions within the exercise. Throughout the demonstration, options are offered to assist in personalizing the experience and leaving room for choices. The language of invitation, options, and choice are woven through the presentation. Nicole incorporates subjunctive and conditional modes of expression to remove any sense of obligation. She addresses the curiosity of the participant and allows opportunity for exploration within the participant’s sense of comfort.