How to Help Students with Triggers

November 14, 2018
How to Help Students with Triggers

Trauma is a tricky thing to identify. It isn’t easy for me to say “these are my triggers” as they pop up randomly and often without warning. Sometimes it’s an ad on television, a piece of paper that slips out of an old notebook or being in an overcrowded store alone.

In the last number of years, I have had the opportunity to meet with some of the most incredibly brave students. I created a non-profit in Cape Cod that was a beautiful (albeit failed) effort. My mission wasn’t specific enough to uphold our mission, but it lead me to meet some amazing people. We taught yoga to “people who didn’t have access or couldn’t afford it.” I taught in a homeless shelter that focused on empowering people to stand on their own two feet, the local libraries and a women’s shelter in the Upper Cape.

I didn’t know it then, but I would land myself in a women’s shelter in Boston for their support group almost exactly five years later. Abuse, trauma and triggers are quite cunning indeed. 

Talk about divine timing and plans.

In the last few years, I have had students with every dis-ease, trauma and trigger you could imagine. I have students with PTSD, sexual trauma and more. Holding space for them to breathe feels as though I’ve stepped into the exact place I need to be. Every. Single. Time.

In order to heal my own trauma, I focused on healing others along the same path. I continuously worked on my own healing, but helping them truly helped me.

And here’s what I learned :

You come first.

Honestly, in terms of healing your own trauma and holding space for others, the most important thing to learn and remember is that you come first, always. Continuously work on your own healing, feel your feelings, breathe and remember it’s okay to let go little by little.

Triggers are not our fault, but we can always be aware.

Technically, nothing we say or do can be held accountable for triggering a students trauma. HOWEVER – using specific words in class that may trigger someone in sexual or emotional trauma recovery could have an immediate reaction.

A few things that can help you avoid creating triggers : refer to your chest as your heart (instead of breasts or chest), avoid happy baby, when doing heart openers make sure you forward fold to remind them to hold love, safety and boundaries.

There are a million ways we can hold space for someone while teaching. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own healing, but we can be a guide. Please take a trauma recovery course if you’re interested in digging deeper as I am a survivor of emotional trauma and not an expert in teaching trauma yoga.

You come first.

Breathing. Meditation. Yoga. Laughter with friends. Massage. Self-care. Filling your cup. 

Ground. Ground. Ground.

Grounding is the first step to safety. Use a grounding, root chakra meditation such as I am safe, I am healthy, I am present. Use grounding crystals {black tourmaline, smoky quartz or black onyx}. Use sage or palo santo to clear the energy. Feel your feet barefoot on the earth. Reconnect to the ground in whatever way feels the most accessible.

You come first.

Take a rose quartz or grounding crystal and place it in your clothes when you’re teaching and/or recovering from your own trauma. It may be nice to help others on the path, but be sure to heal your own heart while you’re giving love to others. 

There is always more than one approach and more than one tool.

Yoga. Meditation. Tarot cards. Writing. Crystals. Reiki. Sound healing. Therapy. Medication. Essential Oils. Yoga. Meditation. Bigger crystals. Laughter. Journaling. Thai massage. Reflexology. Yoga. Meditation. Emotional Freedom Technique (ETF). Rituals. Name your own tools. Be sure to dig deep and use whichever tool works for you in that moment.

Create safe space for your students. 

Create a safe culture and physical space for them to heal. Use sage or palo santo to release negative emotions before and after they share. When I teach in libraries, I always bring crystals and oils with me in order to create the physical image of a sacred space. Do not share their stories. Hold space for them. Be sure your students feel safe and comfortable. 

We are not doctors, we are listeners.

We are not doctors. We do not have the power or capability to diagnose or give advice we don’t have the qualifications to give. We are here to be listeners, to be healers and helpers on the path to recovering from trauma. We are here to hold their hand, hug them, tell them which crystal to place under their pillow, enjoy a laugh or a good cry. We are here to let them tell their stories if they have nowhere to share. We are here to hold them in childs’ pose while they wipe their nose from the instant tears that came down. We are here to allow release. We are here to listen.

You come first.

Schedule your massage. Don’t skip therapy. Keep crystals in your bra or your briefcase. Heal. Love. Laugh. You come first.

Triggers are insidious. Abuse is stealthy. The memories pop up and sneak in when you least expect it. If we can hold space for our students and continue to work on our own healing, we are doing a service to the world. Continue to love and live loudly and fiercely.

Lots of love to you yogis

Namaste, xx – Jenny

Well Summit Recap

Well Summit Review

Well Summit shifted my energy, my body and my heart in ways I could have never predicted or imagined. My GOD am I grateful I went to Brooklyn. Let’s start with a bit of a back story. My girlfriend Amanda of Prim and Propah…

October 19, 2018
Yoga for Families of Addiction Gala Announcement. Sold out fundraising event

SOLD OUT: Our 1st Annual Yoga for Families of Addiction Gala

Yoga for Families of Addiction Gala sold out last night! It is our first fundraiser. Selling out was a feat I am told is not easy. We sold out in exactly four weeks. We sold out because people believe in this mission. They know…

October 13, 2018
Surrender is the name of the game by Jenny Ravikumar

Self-Care is Crucial

YESTERDAY WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS I talk about my trauma as if it’s in the past. Oftentimes it is. The immediate threat of danger is over. The intensity of living with an addict no longer exists. But it rears its ugly head and grinds down on me from time…

September 20, 2018
Listening to Your Body

Modern Hippie Muse: Listen to the Whispers

One of my students recently said “I can’t hear my body the way you do. I don’t know when I’m about to get my period, have no idea if I’m getting sick and definitely don’t know if there is any trauma inside of me.”…

September 13, 2018
How Yoga Helps with My Triggers by Jenny Ravikumar

How Yoga Helps with My Triggers

Trigger (v): (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of arousing feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience. A few weeks ago, I was sitting with my mom at a cafe and we ran into an…

August 28, 2018
Abuse is Tricky

Abuse is Tricky

When this photo was taken, I was 6 weeks pregnant with my little love. In that moment, I couldn’t have been happier. I was in love with him already, fresh off our trip from India and in a place I thought I would be…

August 14, 2018

Modern Hippie Muse: Rituals for Manifesting

In my world, words like ritual, new moon and intention setting are commonplace. I can hear a particularly “woo” word and know exactly what it means in an instant. And yet it is the question I get the most often. What do I do…

August 7, 2018

Tools I Used to Get Me Peacefully Through My Divorce

In the beginning, everyone kept saying, I’m not sure how you do it all as a single mom, you are so strong. I would politely say thank you as I internally rolled my eyes and prayed that someday I would see the strength they…

July 30, 2018

I wasn’t ever supposed to be divorced

I wasn’t ever supposed to get divorced. Every time I try and come back here, to my blog, my happy place, my words – I seem to get stuck after that sentence. It’s so difficult for me to articulate something so intense and complicated…

July 24, 2018