Yoga for trauma: reclaiming your body

That trauma deeply impacts the body is something people are still just starting to understand.Those of us using yoga and other body/mind techniques to heal learn just how profound the body/mind connection is. Yoga has been a profoundly healing part of my journey for past traumas (both experiential and the iatrogenic trauma that psychiatric drugs imposed) and for rehabilitation after having been bedridden for a couple of years. The below information about yoga healing and integrating PTSD and past trauma is very important practice, news and research.

In the interview Dave Emerson talks about it being important that the yoga be non-hierarchical and/or non-competitive. In a classroom setting this is often hard to find. Us humans like to compete and compare. I do my yoga at home out of necessity. I remain unwell enough to go to a classroom and so there is never any peer pressure nor any pressure to please a teacher who might not understand my needs which can also be a problem. I think that has been critically important for me and my healing. At this point I know I don’t care what others think about what my yoga looks like on the outside. For yoga to be deeply healing the people practicing need to be deeply mindful of their own body. A typical class of yoga might not support that as deeply as vulnerable people healing from trauma might need. (update: I started going to classes on occasion…I’ve found that my home practice remains preferable as I can tend to what is going on in my body/mind far better than in the classroom. I love classes, but my home practice is more important)

In any case more yoga teachers are becoming familiar with yoga for trauma and/or rehab and the ideal situation would be to find a teacher with such an understanding and experience if one is healing from PTSD. I’ve been lucky in that I have people I can consult and learn from via internet when I need to. I also have a local friend who is a gifted yoga teacher who specializes in yoga for trauma. It is possible to find such people, but it’s not always easy. I also continue to find youtube incredibly helpful for yoga inspiration. Yoga at home is very much possible.

Yoga is a one of the most important pieces of my healing practices.  

UPDATE: Since I started going to classes in the community it’s become even more profound. I’ve continued to trust my gut and I leave classes early most of the time. The studio I go to has been deeply respectful of my process. I am grateful for that.

Check out The Body Keeps Score – by Bessel van der Kolk

From Safe Space Radio.

yoga trauma

Yoga for Trauma Survivors

An interview with yoga teacher and author, David Emerson, who co-wrote, Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body about the development of “trauma-sensitive yoga.”  Dave begins by talking about how trauma is held in the body, and can be addressed through the body, often in conjunction with talk therapy. Dave talks about the many ways yoga teachers and therapists at the Trauma Center in Boston collaborated to modify traditional yoga to make it safer for trauma survivors.  He discusses four themes that guide their work, each of which has been deeply shaken by trauma and each of which can be directly impacted by the practice of yoga:  making choices based on listening to the body, present moment awareness, feeling effective and developing ways to be in rhythm with others. Lastly, Dave talks about their research showing that yoga is so effective a treatment that after two months, patients who previously had PTSD, and did trauma-sensitive yoga, no longer meet the criteria for the diagnosis!

Listen here:

More on Beyond Meds about Trauma and the Body:

●  Trauma, Fixation and Reactivity – (Somatic Experience)

●  The body releases trauma and restores goodness

●  The healing journey revealed (trauma and transformation)

●  Trauma is often held in the body and experienced as chronic pain

●  Trauma release exercises (or tension release too) — the body speaks

●  ”When you put the psyche in motion it heals itself.” (embodiment)

●  Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal

●  Trauma and the body: an audio with Will Hall and links to more info

●   Yoga also helps with body/mind healing

●   Intergenerational Trauma and Healing

●  Body-Centered Inquiry

●   Love letter to my body…

●   The Body Keeps the Score (Part Two) — how trauma changes us

●   The Body Keeps the Score (part 1)

More posts on trauma and PTSD here.

More posts on YOGA

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters