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30: Trauma Informed Yoga with Dr. Ann Bortz

Nowadays the phrase “trauma informed yoga” is familiar to most of us. But if you’ve heard the term and assume it doesn’t represent the students you teach or practice alongside, you may be surprised to hear in this episode that up to 90% of adults will experience a traumatic event in their lives.

Today’s guest, Dr. Ann Bortz, is a licensed clinical psychologist with almost 30 years in the field. Host Rachel speaks with Dr. Bortz about her specialty working with those who are impacted by trauma. She explains how yoga gave her the tools to help recognize and respond to what she was encountering with her patients and realized that it could also be a helpful tool for them, too.

Listen in to learn what trauma is, who it most commonly affects, how it changes the brain and body, and which yoga practices can help.

“Verbal interventions alone aren’t getting the job done.” – Dr. Ann Bortz

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“The way we respond to trauma really impacts on the traumatic imprint that it leaves.” – Dr. Ann Bortz

Show Notes:

  • Dr Ann Bortz’ professional background and introduction to yoga practice [3:01]
  • The catalyst for becoming a yoga teacher [5:40]
  • Traumatic stress versus general life stress [8:16]
  • The new phenomenon of pandemic-related trauma [10:00]
  • Trauma in pandemic first responders [14:00]
  • How trauma changes the brain and body [16:06]
  • Polyvagal theory and the lesser known “Freeze Response” [18:07]
  • The impact of mindfulness on varied stress states [21:48]
  • Breath practices for trauma informed yoga [24:08]
  • The quality of movement is more impactful than the pose we choose [24:56]
  • Quiet and stillness can be triggering for students with unresolved trauma [26:19]
  • Student self-agency can be healing, bringing the thinking brain back online [27:43]
  • Playing music in trauma informed yoga sessions [33:10]
  • Authenticity is key for students with a history of trauma [34:34]
  • How to avoid inadvertently re-traumatizing students or respond if it occurs [35:58]
  • A reminder of the value of compassion [38:43]

Links Mentioned:

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“It’s really hard if you have a history of trauma just to find your way into a state of calm alertness where you can be socially engaged with others. – Dr. Ann Bortz












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