How People Pleasing Can Stem from Trauma and How Yin Yoga Can Help.

Annie Au | E-RYT 500

In the complex tapestry of human behavior, the ways in which individuals respond to trauma can be profound and varied. One such response, often overlooked but significant, is the fawning response.

This coping mechanism is closely tied to a strong inclination towards people-pleasing and a deep-seated need for approval. Let's delve into how the fawning response can be linked to trauma and how the practice of Yin Yoga can offer solace and aid in the healing process.

The Fawning Response: A Coping Mechanism Born from Trauma

The fawning response is a behavioral pattern characterized by a strong desire to please others, avoid conflict, and seek external validation. Often, this response stems from early-life experiences of trauma, neglect, or environments where expressing one's needs or boundaries was met with adverse consequences. Individuals who have experienced such circumstances may develop the fawning response as a survival mechanism, striving to maintain safety and acceptance by meeting the needs of others.

People Pleasing and its Roots in Trauma

People-pleasing, a core aspect of the fawning response, involves going to great lengths to meet the expectations and desires of others. This behavior is deeply ingrained in the belief that one's self-worth is tied to external validation. Trauma survivors, having faced challenges in their early relationships, may adopt people-pleasing as a way to gain approval and mitigate the fear of rejection, abandonment, or harm.

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Yin Yoga: A Healing Pathway

Yin Yoga, a gentle and introspective practice, has the potential to complement the healing journey for individuals dealing with trauma and the fawning response. This form of yoga emphasizes long-held, passive poses, encouraging practitioners to delve into deeper layers of the body and mind.

  • Mindfulness and Self-Acceptance: Yin Yoga promotes mindfulness and self-awareness, allowing individuals to connect with their emotions and physical sensations without judgment. This process can help trauma survivors acknowledge their feelings and release any guilt associated with setting boundaries or prioritizing their well-being.
  • Restoring Balance: The yin approach in yoga seeks to balance the yang energy within us, which is active, with the yin, which is passive and receptive. Trauma survivors often experience an imbalance in their lives, and the grounding, calming nature of yin yoga can help restore equilibrium.
  • Releasing Tension: Holding yin poses gently stretches and releases tension in connective tissues, muscles, and fascia. This physical release can mirror the emotional and mental release necessary for healing from trauma and shedding the need for constant people-pleasing.
  • Encouraging Self-Care: Yin Yoga encourages individuals to listen to their bodies and respect their limits during practice. This fosters a sense of self-care and self-compassion, vital elements in healing from trauma and gradually letting go of the fawning response.

In conclusion, understanding the fawning response and its connection to trauma is a crucial step toward healing and growth. Incorporating Yin Yoga into one's healing journey can offer a nurturing environment to foster self-awareness, self-acceptance, and ultimately, a healthier approach to relationships, free from the chains of people-pleasing.

Interested in learning about trauma recovery and yin yoga? I’ll be leading a 50hr Trauma-Informed Yin Yoga Online Teacher Training. Don’t miss out on this training on trauma physiology and sensitivity teaching. Click here for more information.

Annie Au


Annie is the founder of Soulful Yin Yoga, an exclusive trauma-informed Yin Yoga teacher training program that teaches trauma physiology and sensitivity teaching. Annie infuses Chinese meridians and yogic wisdom into her teachings offering a holistic healing in our modern lives. Learn more about her training here.