I took the Love Your Brain teacher training in Summer 2017 at Unfold Portland to learn how to teach yoga and meditation to the traumatic brain injury community. My mother had had a series of brain tumors when I was a child, and I felt motivated to learn more about the impact of these practices on brain injury survivors.
Since the training, I have taught the 6-week Love Your Brain series a total of six times. It has thus far been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my teaching career. I have learned many things about people living with TBI, including a tendency toward heightened light and noise sensitivity, feelings of identity loss or not being able to get back to who they were before the accident, physical limitations such as discomfort dropping the head below the heart in yoga poses, difficulty with blurry vision and staying balanced, and feelings of isolation, dissociation, and overwhelm. One of the biggest challenges for people living with TBI is that it is often an “invisible” injury… so even though they look okay on the outside, they are in reality facing many challenges within.
Some of the feedback we’ve collected from students shows the impact of the Love Your Brain curriculum. Here are a few things students have shared that have been the most helpful:
The way in which yoga poses are broken down to be practiced and built up over time. This helped me focus on my form, proper alignment, not being overwhelmed by so many parts moving at once and always maintaining balance
The sensitivity & attention to environmental factors that are difficult (noise, light)
Discussions with other people with the same problems. Validation from the other people in the class. Ability to look at things differently and feel more positive.
A warm supportive space to feel safe in. Ability to listen to instruction and do yoga with eyes closed.
More confidence overall. Feel more in control. Did reinforce my cognitive challenges, but another wake-up call to work harder, especially with yoga. A positive challenge.
Good to devote time each week to something meant to nurture and help me recover.
Connecting with others in the same circumstance - by far the best outcome. The yoga practice seemed to settle my system, easing the sympathetic side of my nervous system and helping me feel less keyed up outside of class. The discussions also helped sort out emotional and psychological stuff related to my accident.
As a result of teaching to the TBI community, I have become more skilled as a teacher, more creative with pose modification, more present and aware, more compassionate, and more trauma-informed. I offer immense gratitude to all of my Love Your Brain students for helping me to become a better teacher and a better human being. Namaste.