Polyvagal Theory Psycho-educational Tools

By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | September 29, 2021


I had these graphic cartoons commissioned by a terrific young artists a few years ago and many of my students have found them useful for themselves or their students (if they’re teachers). I think it’s important for yoga teachers to understand the basics of Polyvagal Theory. Human beings are hardwired for safety and that wiring gets rearranged based on our experiences. 

The first way we find safety is through each other. Sometimes this is called the “Flock” response.

But when that response fails because we’re rejected, isolated, or there just isn’t anyone around, the system defaults to the “Fight or Flight” response – a revving up of the Sympathetic part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) to get us ready for action.

When that fails because we can’t get away from the threat, we default to the most primitive part of the system (which is guided by the dorsal part of the vagus nerve). This is often called the “Freeze” response. 

Yoga can support folks in rediscovering feelings of safety in the body and mind, and using that awareness to build greater resilience.

Here, I’m trying to explain this process in a simple way. Because at that time, I was teaching at an Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization Program for young women struggling with addiction. They really resonated with the first graphic especially. Big thanks to Caitlin Luedke for her terrific art work!

You are welcome to print these out and share them (just right click and select “Open image in new tab”).

I hope they are helpful for you personally and, if you are teaching, I hope they help your students too.


I will be teaching a workshop this weekend called “Teaching the Neuroscience of Yoga” and you are welcome to join me! Find out more here. 





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