Yoga for Trauma Recovery: Healing Through Movement

Every person has faced some form of trauma in their lives.

In one’s teenage years if a person was teased for being fat, well that’s a traumatic experience for the person being teased. Trauma can occur with life threatening situations, due to being physically abused, rejected, failing at something, ostracized and so on.

Trauma is a response to any deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope.

Trauma causes people to feel helpless, and experience a diminished sense of self.

The effects of trauma can be pervasive, and these can impact an individual’s physical health, emotional stability and even mental clarity.

Trauma can also propel a person towards anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and a constant state of alertness.

However, humans are very resilient and strong and they can definitely overcome this condition. Yoga has many helpful techniques to offer.

The Science Behind Yoga and Trauma

Yoga focuses on the mind-body-spirit connection and harmony while trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium and makes it tough for individuals to calm or centre themselves and regulate emotions. The systematic approach to breathwork, mindfulness and movement in yoga can help to re-establish this balance.

Five areas of yoga practice that can help in trauma recovery are as follows:

Breath Control (Pranayama): Breathing exercises calm the nervous system. Techniques such as deep belly breathing activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Mindfulness (Dhyana): Mindfulness meditation as well as breath awareness meditation encourages living in the present-moment. ‘Thought-observing’ meditation helps individuals to observe painful thoughts without attachment and thereby draw out these troublesome feelings from deep within and also work at weakening them and therefore not allowing them to have a hold on us. This practice enhances emotional stability and promotes a sense of safety.

Movement (Asana): The physical postures in yoga help in releasing deep seated tension stored in the body. Gentle, restorative poses provide a sense of grounding and stability, while more dynamic sequences push out toxins and poisons as well as build strength and resilience.

Yoga Nidra (Guided Relaxation): Suggestions made by the yoga teacher to a person while they are in this deep state of relaxation, are heard by the deeper levels of the practitioners mind, which are very powerful forces. Cleverly worked out suggestions need to be made, which help to start a healing journey and enable the deeper levels of the mind to have self belief and transmit this feeling of confidence to the conscious mind.

Yoga Philosophy: An experienced teacher will weave in the valid tenets of yoga philosophy which gives people hope and guidance, required for erasing or dealing with painful memories. Yoga teaches one to identify with the eternal human spirit and think of the mind and body as tools to navigate with or to think of the physical body as the vessel which houses the soul.

Benefits of Yoga for Trauma Survivors

Trauma leads to feelings of numbness and dissociation as it breaks the connection between mind and body, but yoga encourages participants to become more aware of their physical sensations and creates that reconnection, crucial for grounding one and making one feel more present.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common among persons who have suffered from harsh negative experiences. Studies have shown that yoga can significantly reduce symptoms of PTSD, including intrusive thoughts, emotional numbing, and hyperarousal. The calming deep breathing, the repetitive and rhythmic nature of yoga movements, the stretching and relaxing of tense nerves, all have a soothing effect, thereby helping to calm the mind and body.

In addition, yogic practices such as ‘Dharana’ and ‘Dhyana’ (focus and meditation) also help in emotional regulation by teaching individuals to observe their feelings without judgment and in building resilience, so there is less risk of emotional outbursts.

For those looking for Online Yoga Classes in Washington for fitness, good health or for trauma recovery I urge you to join my yoga sessions at ‘Yoga with Sapna‘ today!

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