Can Yoga Sculpt Be Trauma-Sensitive?

What speaks to me about yoga: mindful movement. Coordinating my movement and breath. Challenging my body in a safe way. Getting stronger, more flexible, more agile. Practicing self-care.

What is yoga sculpt: a format developed at Core Power Yoga that adds weights to yoga postures, and uses sun salutes to warm up. Like most of CPY’s classes, this one is heated to 90 degrees or over. Full disclosure – I now teach this format! I am mainly a yoga person, but for me yoga sculpt can be fun and energetic. Being able to teach it has made it more feasible for me to earn a living as a yoga teacher and have a more normal schedule.
People like and need different forms of movement in their lives. Yoga sculpt is not for everyone … and neither is yoga … and that is okay! I don’t believe yoga sculpt is intrinsically “bad” or “un-yogic”. Plenty of people seem to have this view without ever taking a class.  I believe there is a more yogic way of approaching movement, and you can bring that approach to other formats. And similarly, you can bring other approaches to a physical yoga practice of any style. Practicing yoga in and of itself does not make a person “higher” or “better” than people who practice other forms of movement and (yes) exercise.

Yoga isn’t only a physical exercise, but to pretend that the vast majority of yoga practiced in the United States in yoga studios today is something other than physical exercise is just misleading. Is what is practiced in the United States today in most studios similar to “original” yoga? Probably not. Can people bring elements of spirituality into a yoga practice? For sure, and many do. You can bring it into other forms of movement too.
It’s disappointing to hear yoga teachers speak disparagingly about other formats of movement, especially because of all the talk within yoga about acceptance, peace , love and non-harm.
Would I recommend yoga sculpt to someone looking for trauma-sensitive yoga?  I would explain the format to them if asked and let them decide. I wouldn’t offer it up to a non-profit serving trauma survivors – nor would I offer up the fast-paced power vinyasa flow style classes that I love, teach in public classes, and have found healing (and which are mostly considered “real yoga” by teachers who speak ill of yoga sculpt). It’s not up to me to tell other people what they need. Trauma survivor or not, people can decide for themselves. There likely are trauma survivors in other weights based classes.
Some people crave a strong physical challenge. Some people may not want what they expect to be the quiet introspective atmosphere of a yoga class. And some people may not want the yoga attitude that seems to be coming from some yoga teachers towards different formats of movement. As someone who isn’t really into weights – it can actually be empowering to use them.
In my yoga sculpt classes, I used positive language – I avoid yelling – and people have told me they like that they can choose to amp it up – or not. I avoid language like “I want to see everyone doing x” or “push through it”. I’ve heard this language in yoga sculpt. And I’ve heard it in yoga too. I’m not perfect – I’m sure I say things that are less than empowering, but it’s not a given that yoga is somehow “superior” for this reason.

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