Given all the possible voice and sound triggers for someone with Misophonia, a yoga class could be full of triggers and an unpleasant, traumatic experience. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices can be a part of a toolbox but not if it is not accessible to someone with Misophonia.
My son has Misophonia. We have estimated that it began around age 5 or 6 but we didn’t have a name what ‘it’ was until he was 12 years old. Before I understood neurologically what he was going through as a yoga teacher it was difficult for me to teach him the skills I knew would help him. Once understood we were able to begin developing coping skills for his coping toolbox. Progressive Muscle Relaxation was a large part of that along with other yoga practices.
This is how my passion for yoga just for Misophonia was born. Having a son with Misophonia and trying to find professionals that understood what we were going through, being the parent who has to educate all the professionals and the school on what my son’s disorder was. As a yoga teacher, I want to be able to be that professional that understands, that moment when you can finally just have a sigh of relief because you don’t have to explain anymore, someone ‘gets’ it.
I can never promise that I will not trigger someone. There are so many possible sound triggers but my goal is to reduce possible triggers in the way I present yoga.
What is Misophonia Yoga?
Misophonia Yoga is based on current known research about the disorder. The words used are selectively chosen to attempt to avoid the majority of triggers though impossible to avoid all. Every attempt I can possibly make to avoid sniffling, breathing out loud, coughing, clearing my throat, or any other mouth or voice sounds will be made. In addition, closed captioning will be available.
Many of the breathing practices used in a traditional yoga practice are avoided and the attempt to encourage breathing methods are made but not focused on. The words “In” and “Out” are used for times to inhale and exhale. As the yoga instructor, I never demonstrate the breathing or breathe out loud during the practice as would be typical in yoga teaching.
Avoiding the word “Relax.” Someone with Misophonia may have experienced trauma related to their disorder and after triggered, their physical then fight/flight response are a pre-cognitive neurological response so it is difficult to just relax once triggered. Many people may have already overused this word to try to calm them. Instead I use words such as: soften; feel your legs getting heavy; or time for rest.
As part of the rest time at the end of practice students will be led through a Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). After repeated times with someone directing this practice a student can learn to do PMR on their own. I recommend this as a continued practice for people with Misophonia as it teaches the muscles and the body to relax after tension.
Vagus Nerve stimulation will be incorporated into the practice. The Vagus nerve regulates the autonomic systems in our body and originates from the brainstem. In addition some energy balancing techniques will be used including one for the Triple Warmer meridian which rules over the immune system and our fight/flight/freeze response. Teaching of Mudras, or hand gestures, will be used. There are varying touch points in our fingers and learning these techniques can provide tools that can be used in any situation. In addition some energy clearing and body balancing techniques will be integrated into the practice.
Practice Misophonia Yoga and Mindfulness: Misophonia Yoga
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