How can the ancient teachings of yoga help deal with the effects of psychological trauma?
Psychological trauma can happen in a number of ways. Anything from sexual assault, accidents, medical procedures and domestic violence, to war and torture. Usually, but not always, it happens as a result of something unexpected or out of the ordinary, and shakes up our inner world to such an extent that it becomes difficult for the body and mind to integrate the experience afterwards.
Yoga helps by bringing about systematic changes in the bodies core systems, particularly those that serve to regulate the autonomic nervous system. This is the part that is often overwhelmed when trauma is experienced and yoga helps to stabilize the highs and lows that can happen when this system is re-triggered.
Trauma focused yoga is a relatively new development pioneered in the US by trauma expert Bessel Van Der Kolk, however yoga has been successfully used for the resolution of trauma symptoms for centuries.
The purpose of yoga is to help achieve Samadhi and states of oneness, however trauma interferes with this natural process. Breathing techniques help to regulate the bodies nervous system, and postures / asanas can help to discharge difficult contractions and emotions. Skilful practice of yoga and meditation leads to a mind and body which is clean and pure. Patterns created in the past can be released to unearth our natural beauty.
Common signs of trauma
Difficulties functioning or coping after the event
Intense feelings of anger or angry outbursts
Inability to concentrate
Feeling irritable or moody
Withdrawing from others or seeking isolation
Benefits of Trauma Focused Yoga
Trauma can often mean that it is hard to be present. It can feel like we are stuck in the past constantly replaying and re-experiencing events there. Yoga brings us back into the present moment, helping the body to release long held contractions.
The practice can help participants to:
Connect more with their body
Improve their spatial and proprioceptive awareness
Become present and grounded
Help you to learn to regulate difficult emotions through breathing and grounding techniques
Some participants may wish to also see a counsellor, psychologist or other health professional whilst taking these classes, and it is advised to continue taking any medication that has been prescribed. Additionally I also offer Somatic Experiencing, a specialist Trauma Therapy which is available through 1-2-1 sessions.
Currently classes and workshops for Trauma Focused Yoga are women-only. If you are interested in a men-only class or workshop then please let me know via the contact me form here. The classes and workshops are most suited to those experiencing PTSD or other trauma related disorders.
The class sizes are kept small and limited to 10 people. They explore how to feel safe in the body again through gentle breathing, stretching and resting postures, as well as developing grounding techniques.