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Trauma-Informed Educational Yoga Program for Teens as an Addiction Prevention Tool

Maryam OvissiHeather Hagaman

Published: 03 March 2020

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Dysregulated trauma can propel people to abuse alcohol or drugs as medicine to feel balanced. People are not aware of what is happening in their body and may use substances as a way to dial down their overreactive sympathetic nervous systems. Since the advent of the Polyvagal Theory (founded by Porges), we now have a deeper understanding of the body's parasympathetic processes that contribute to freezing, disassociation, and mental collapse. These processes make it difficult, especially in early recovery, for people to communicate effectively and with self-understanding. Yoga education taught by a trauma-informed yoga therapist offers a process that can encourage the individual to participate more fully in helping the body heal and the nervous system regulate. We believe we can empower individuals, starting in the formative years, through education, tools of breath work, simple movement, and meditation practices. This is the essence of therapeutic yoga. Sex education is mandatory in most school systems, with an option to opt out. What if there were a mandatory education module taught in middle school for emotional self-regulation and self-empowerment? Trauma-informed yoga education could help to mitigate the effects of trauma and may even lessen the likelihood of individuals developing addictions.

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