Trauma Sensitive Movement, Embodiment,
and Mindfulness Services
Trauma Sensitive Yoga Project

About

This project was created for people who may have had limited access to yoga. Services are available in-person and online to everyone, including: trauma survivors, people who are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, people in inpatient or outpatient treatment, people who are incarcerated, people who are military veterans, people in domestic violence shelters, people experiencing homelessness, and people in other similar settings. These types of sessions may also be suitable for people experiencing anxiety, chronic stress, insomnia, and similar conditions.

Erin Finck has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. She is a certified TCTSY-F* through the 300 hour Trauma Center - Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) certification program. She has over 200 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, and additional training in addiction, mental health, criminal justice, stress relief, prenatal yoga, and the Yoga of 12 Steps Recovery. She has a BA in Psychology from OU. She is in pursuit of a Master's in Integral Health with a concentration in Yoga Therapy. 


Erin’s sessions are typically more gentle in nature. Some classes are more alignment based and others are more centered around what it's like to be in a certain shape, rather than trying to get into a certain shape. She invites participants to cultivate a balance between steadiness and ease using the breath as a pathway between mind and body; unifying mind, body, and spirit - the essence of yoga. You're welcome to read more about her journey here, if you would like.

Photos by Anita Wasko Photography

My Interest in Working with Survivors

My passion for sharing the gift of yoga has become my life’s work and purpose. My lived experience has provided me with an innate understanding of how growing one’s practice yields fruits of wellbeing. I believe that the physical practice and philosophy of yoga can cultivate the foundation upon which one can rebuild a sense of safety, autonomy, and trust within one’s body. The more I learned about the science of how yoga works, the physiological, psychological, and neurobiological underpinnings, the deeper and more wide-spread the roots of my beliefs became. It can be a powerful tool for learning how to develop skills for healing and recovery. 

Yoga is a mind-body-spirit practice, whereas many of the western medical modalities are limited to cognitive-only, or physical-only. We are integrated beings. Healing and recovery require integrated, holistic methodologies if we want to be able to truly thrive. This is both the how and the why that the practice of yoga is so powerful. This is not to say that western modalities are ineffective. However, it is why I say that yoga can cultivate the foundation for one on their healing journey. Once the foundation is established, the work can begin. 

My Approach to Trauma-Informed Care

I would define my approach to trauma informed care as acknowledging the soul within the survivor. This is an awareness of the human being that survived; that this is an individual who has had an individual experience, and so what one person may need might be different from what another person might need. This is seeing a person as a person, and not as a statistic or as something that should fit into a box that describes what a survivor is. 

Modality

I offer Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY). TCTSY is an evidence-based adjunctive treatment for complex, developmental trauma or chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD. The TCTSY program qualified for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) database published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition to yoga, TCTSY has foundations in Trauma Theory, Attachment Theory, and Neuroscience. 

The TCTSY methodology is based on central components of the hatha style of yoga, where participants engage in a series of physical forms and movements. Elements of standard hatha yoga are modified to maximize experiences of empowerment and to cultivate a more positive relationship to one's body. TCTSY does not use physical hands-on adjustments to influence a participant's physical form. Rather, TCTSY presents opportunities for participants to be in charge of themselves based on a felt sense of their own body.  

Although TCTSY employs physical forms and movements, the emphasis is not on the external expression or appearance (i.e. doing it "right"), or receiving the approval of an external authority. Rather, the focus is on the internal experience of the participant. This shift in orientation, from the external to the internal, is a key attribute of TCTSY as a complementary treatment for complex trauma. With this approach, the power resides within the individual, not the TCTSY facilitator (TCTSY-F). Further, by focusing on the felt sense of the body to inform choice-making, TCTSY allows participants to restore their connection of mind and body and cultivate a sense of agency that is often compromised as a result of trauma.  

How My Practice Holistically Addresses the Impacts of Trauma

TCTSY is specially for survivors of complex trauma, which is often related to sexual abuse but also encompasses any forms of abuse and neglect that may have happened by someone they had a relationship with over a long period of time. The participant can make choices about what types of movements to make, how quickly or slowly they’d like to move, or if they’d like to move at all; restoring a sense of autonomy. 

The participant is invited to notice what type of sensation they are experiencing while in the form. This process, called interoception, is what brings online regions of the brain that may have been diminished or shut down as a result of trauma. Through time and practice, the participant can get better at making choices that are best for their body, can become more adept at being able to experience and interpret sensations, thereby becoming more skillful at being able to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. 


Modifications for Survivors

The entire approach is geared around generating safety. Doors and windows are accessible. Participants, if in a group setting, are in a circle and not side by side, with no one behind them. The facilitator does not leave their mat and will not be physically adjusting the participants. The participant is offered choice after choice after choice. They are welcomed to practice in their own way. Suggestions are offered to increase a sense of security, such as the option to adjust their posture, practice with a wall behind them, become aware of their body on the ground, etc. Additional practices such as resourcing, self-compassion, body-scans, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises are sometimes offered before, during, or after sessions. 


Accountability

* Certified TCTSY facilitators (TCTSY-F) who are in good standing* are able to offer classes and individual sessions, with the support of the Trauma Center. Length and content of classes and individual sessions can be customized. TCTSY is accessible to ALL people without exception.

*In order to maintain their on-going supervisory relationship with The Trauma Center, certified TCTSY facilitators are required to meet established criteria for both professional development and integrity of their TCTSY practice. Only certified facilitators who are compliant with these standards are authorized by The Trauma Center to represent themselves as TCTSY-Facilitators.