Navigating Trauma in Breath Sessions: Creating Healing Spaces

Jun 01, 2024

Hello, dear readers,


Today, we're delving into an essential topic: trauma's influence on breath sessions and how we, as facilitators, can best support our students by creating a trauma aware space.


If asked, I’m certain all breath coaches or practitioners would say that they want to create a safe, trauma-aware space for their students. However, it's easy to misinterpret signs of trauma and to label a student as "not listening" or "unable to follow instructions" if we don’t have the awareness of some of the possible signs of trauma.


I remember when I used to inwardly roll my eyes when a student "refused" to close their eyes during a meditation or breath session before I learnt that the reason they wouldn’t take up my invitation might be because closing the eye didn't feel safe for them. With this knowledge I became instantly more compassionate towards my students - who was I to insist on them doing anything anyway?! 


Trauma can manifest in various ways during breath sessions, affecting our students' comfort, engagement and ability to get the best out of their session. 


Here are some common scenarios and supportive approaches you can take as a breath coach or practitioner:

  1. Reluctance to Close Eyes: Some students may hesitate to close as it may feel unsafe to not be aware of what’s around them. Instead of insisting that the space is safe, offer alternatives such as keeping their eyes open with a soft gaze, allowing them to maintain a sense of safety and control.

  2. Struggles with Breath Awareness: Placing the awareness on the breath can feel aggravating or even suffocating to some students, especially if they’ve experienced trauma regarding the breath. Instead, offer your student to focus on different body movements rather than breath observation and remind them to take their focus to objects around the room if it ever feels too much, helping them stay grounded and in control. 

  3. Paradoxical Breathing (Reverse Breathing): Paradoxical breathing patterns may indicate underlying trauma or stress responses. In this case, it’s helpful to come back to basics to remind the body and retrain the diaphragm how to breathe efficiently and naturally before adding on any more dynamic breath practices.


Recognising trauma's presence is essential for creating a safe and inclusive environment in breath sessions. While we may not always know if someone has unresolved trauma (and you’re not there to heal them from their trauma unless you are indeed a trained psychotherapist or specialist), cultivating compassion and inclusivity is vital for their healing journey.


If you're looking to deepen your understanding and provide more integral support, consider signing up for our Trauma Aware Breath Coach Training. Our training not only teaches you over 20 different breath practices, but it also equips you with the tools to recognise trauma triggers and create a trauma-aware space for your clients, ensuring a supportive and healing experience for all.


Click here to find out more and to sign up, and embark on your journey towards creating truly healing spaces.


With love,