Triggered or Activated?

What felt like a really interesting new discovery during our “Understandting Trauma for Safer Spaces” training, was the distinction between being triggered and being activated. It struck me that we often use the term “triggered” when “activated” might be more appropriate in many situations. I did some online research on this, but it appears to be a relatively novel concept with limited available information. Nevertheless, it feels crucial to me.

The Trigger vs. Activation:


When we use the term “triggered,” it typically signifies a state where our emotional responses have been hijacked, and our ability to rationalize the experience is temporarily impaired. Trauma survivors grappling with triggers may find themselves lost in a whirlwind of flashbacks, racing hearts, and overwhelming emotions. In this state, it is hard for them to make sense of what is happening to them. The trigger has effectively transported their nervous system back to the original trauma.


On the other hand, being “activated” denotes a state where we retain some capacity to engage in an internal cause-and-effect dialogue about our emotional state. It allows us to recognize that our physical responses, such as a racing heart or sweaty palms, are reactions to a specific stimulus that has activated our sympathetic nervous system. This awareness enables us to establish a connection between the triggering subject and the physical sensations we’re experiencing, or even simply acknowledge that we’re feeling “off” because of a certain stimulus.

Why the Distinction Matters:

Understanding this distinction is important because it acknowledges that these experiences are not one and the same. Using “triggered” and “activated” interchangeably can inadvertently minimize the unique challenges each state presents.

How to Approach Each State:

In Dealing with Activation

When someone is activated, remember there is some level of cognitive awareness. Practices like focused deep breathing, grounding exercises, physical activities, RAIN meditation or talking to a trusted friend can be effective strategies. These actions help make sense of what is happening and helps the person regain control over their emotional state.

In Dealing with Triggers

If you’re assisting someone who is experiencing what we differentiate as a trigger, it’s essential to recognize that the “logical” part of the brain, which seeks connections between events, may not be available to them at that moment. Therefore, it is more helpful to focus on bringing the person back to the present. Techniques such as sharing your name and the date, asking for their name, or identifying the place you are in are more effective. You can help the person engage in activities like naming 10 red objects in the room (make sure to do this out loud rather than just pointing to objects). This method safely activates the part of the brain responsible for language and orients the individual back into the current space, helping them move away from the flashback.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding the distinction between being triggered and activated can enhance our ability to support individuals as they navigate the emotional waves of their experiences. It is important to recognize that employing techniques like RAIN meditation may be very helpful when someone is activated but not necessarily helpful when someone is caught in a flashback; in fact, it could potentially re-traumatize them. While the term “trigger” has gained considerable usage in recent decades, shedding much needed light on the importance of a trauma-sensitive approach, it is possible that we have been using it somewhat loosely to describe two distinct states that necessitate distinct responses in order to accompany individuals safely through their emotional journey.

About the Author

Pinelopi embarked on her yoga journey in 1999, completing a 600-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course in Valencia, Spain. She founded English Yoga Berlin in 2010, and now has over 15 years of experience as a full-time yoga teacher.

She deepened her knowledge by studying Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff. Additionally, she trained with David Moore and attended his “Injury-free yoga” workshops, integrating the Alexander Technique into yoga poses. This comprehensive training enriched her expertise in both fields.

In January of 2023, Pinelopi achieved a significant milestone by becoming a certified Alexander Technique teacher. This was an intensive training for 3.3 years, totaling 1600 hours of dedicated study with Jorg Aßhoff.

Pinelopi’s ergonomic consultations integrate anatomy, Alexander Technique, and yoga’s mind-body understanding. Her holistic approach optimizes well-being in the workplace through comprehensive guidance.

She has completed a 3 day training on “Understanding Trauma for Safer Spaces” with Legacy Motion, and is now studying “Somatic Embodiment and Regulation Strategies” with Linda Thai. Her meditation philosophy is deeply inspired by Tara Brach, especially the RAIN meditation.

Understanding Trauma for Safer Spaces

20hr Berlin Trauma-informed Facilitator training from Legacy Motion

for all body workers, including yoga teachers and Alexander Technique teachers

hosted at English Yoga Berlin

When: September 8th to 10th, 2023

This training is more than an education, it is a practical learning experience to
transform your offering and the spaces you occupy.
This experience will offer you immediate tools, methods, and
interventions to instantly cultivate a more trauma-informed approach in
your current studio, classes, business, organization, and/or offerings.
It is an integrative and holistic approach to discovering the connections
between empowerment and resilience through personal exploration,
invitational language, safe space creation, supportive solutions, and
facilitating choice-making.

What is Trauma-Informed?

Trauma is an experience shared by all; whether you have experienced it
firsthand or know people who have experienced it, it is something we come
into contact with any time we work with humans. It is our responsibility to
know and understand the impacts trauma has on individuals and
communities as well as how behaviours manifest and how we can work
alongside them and support people in every field and industry. This training
gives you foundational tools and insights into what it means to be human and
interact with others in a way that promotes safety, dignity, and belonging.
Trauma-informed means taking into account past trauma and the
resulting coping mechanisms when attempting to understand the
behaviours of those we are working alongside. It means bringing empathy
and compassion to every interaction and creating a safe and accessible
space for all.

During this training participants will discover:

● How trauma anatomically affects the nervous system
● How to identify trauma symptoms and trigger responses
● Tools to promote biological resiliency, self-regulation and resolution
● Protocol and best practices in the field
● Invitational language
● Community building and outreach methods
● Ahimsa and the importance of self-care
● How to create a safe space
● Teaching methods for classrooms, yoga studios, healthcare
practitioners, etc

In order to earn your Certificate of Completion, you must be present
for all training days and complete all written assignments by the
scheduled due date. These guidelines for completion are to ensure
that we are building a safe and robust community during this
transformational learning experience.

Who is this Berlin Trauma-informed training for?

~ Suitable for – Yoga Teachers, Body Workers, Coaches

This 20HR training is foundational training, offering you the methods and
interventions to instantly cultivate a more trauma-informed approach in your
current studio and offerings. For yoga teachers and those in the health & wellness
industry, this training will allow you to understand the physiology behind trauma
and how to facilitate safe spaces for all.

~ Suitable for – Mental Health Practitioners, Community Social Workers,

Professional training for those in the mental health or health care industry to
incorporate the body and movement-based practices into your offerings and
work. This training will allow those working with members of the public to
understand the physiology behind trauma and how to work with individuals in a
safe manner for all. This training will allow you to understand trauma from a
bottom-up approach, allowing us to understand the body and how it is affected
during certain circumstances and events (mentally, physically and emotionally).

~ Suitable for – Human Resource Professionals, Managers, Business Owners.

“Trauma is an emotional injury that affects performance and well-being.”
Integrating trauma-informed principles into an organization means operating
from a place of understanding trauma, and recognizing the negative effects
of the trauma within the organization and in the communities it works within.
As a business professional, understanding trauma’s impacts on the workforce,
and how to approach organizational processes from a trauma-informed lens,
means mitigating the harm that is so often perpetuated through a
misunderstanding of human behaviour. It means creating a safe and
supportive work environment for all to thrive.

How to register?

Follow this link to look at prices and registration process:

Find out more:

Click here to find out more details about our facilitator, the modules studied, the time table, sliding scale prices etc.