If you struggle to cope with the symptoms of trauma, you may be interested in the benefits of trauma informed yoga therapy.
Trauma refers to the experience of an event that threatens or violates our basic sense of safety. While a traumatic event can be identified by external factors, our response to such an event varies according to our own psychological experience.
As our society becomes more attuned to the importance of mental wellness for all, our ability to recognize the lasting effects of trauma on those who have experienced it has increased.
In this article, we’re exploring the benefits of trauma informed yoga therapy.
Trauma-Informed Yoga Therapy
Trauma response is the term used to describe our unique way of coping with having experienced the traumatic event. When our trauma response persists long after the actual event has passed, we are likely suffering from a trauma-related mental health disorder.
Symptoms of persistent trauma response can range from mild to severe and can include both mental and physical problems. Some of the more common symptoms resulting from the inability to move past trauma include guilt, fear, hopelessness, avoidance, and substance use. If not addressed properly, the consequences of untreated trauma response can spill over into all areas of our life. Those who find it difficult to move past the effects of trauma on their lives can find that they continue to struggle in romantic relationships, parenting, careers, and more.
Here’s what you need to know about trauma informed yoga therapy.
Due to the need to treat trauma response as an underlying factor in several other types of mental health disorders, many types of existing therapies have evolved to incorporate a specialized focus. Seeking to treat the mental health conditions arising from trauma without addressing the effects of the trauma itself is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound.
Trauma informed therapy strives to provide a more holistic approach to healing by focusing on the root of the problem
Yoga as a Treatment for Trauma Response
By itself, yoga has been increasing in popularity in westernized nations since the 1960s. Long touted as a means of obtaining inner peace and overall health in eastern cultures, yoga is characterized by gaining a sense of emotional balance and mental clarity, while simultaneously strengthening the bodies which serve as the vehicles by which we navigate the planet. Yoga has become a staple in wellness programs that promote a holistic approach to treatment.
Yoga has also joined the ranks of treatment therapies which have recognized the devastating role that trauma can play in our overall ability to live a life of wellness. Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY) and Neurogenic Yoga are two of the leading approaches when it comes to utilizing the healing power of yoga to assist victims of trauma in regaining a sense of control over their lives. Sessions are carefully designed and moderated by yoga teachers who are specially trained in the needs and concerns of those who are living under the shadow of trauma.
The most dominating characteristic of trauma is that of experiencing a situation where your sense of safety has been taken from you. Whether this lack of safety has been experienced as a genuine life-or-death scenario, or as being in a mindset of fear that such may end up being the case, restoration of that sense of safety is at the heart of all trauma-centered approaches. As such, the format of a trauma-informed yoga session is designed to foster a sense of ease and unconditional acceptance for participants. There is no pressure to conform to the expectations of the group. Participants can come and go as they please, and are able to participate to the extent that they feel comfortable.
Relaxing The Nervous System
When we are faced with a threatening scenario, our nervous system goes into overdrive. Trauma response involves the activation of our primitive survival response, which includes the familiar flight-or-fight reaction, along with a few others. During the time that we are genuinely in danger, these responses are well designed to assist us in staying alive. After the danger has passed, a body that maintains that hypervigilance indefinitely is one that is also slowly tearing itself apart. Using yoga as a means of slowing down and mindfully encouraging the nervous system to relax not only has the potential to prolong your life but has the added benefit of reducing the brain fog that is created while living with constant feelings of anxiety.
Focusing on the Present
Mindfulness is a core tenant of yoga. Mindfulness involves turning thoughts away from the past or the future and disciplining the mind to focus on only what is in the immediate present. For many who suffer from trauma response, their thoughts are prone toward rumination about the past event or consumed with worry about the possibility of the event happening again in the future. Being mindful allows the opportunity to recharge without the past and future robbing you of energy.
In trauma-centered yoga therapy, there is a specialized awareness of the impact that sitting in the present may have on a trauma survivor. Becoming acutely aware of oneself during a period of meditation or mindfulness may reactivate – or trigger – memories and sensations of the trauma that had previously remained hidden or dormant. Skilled facilitators will know to recognize, adapt, and support trauma survivors should the experience become too intense.
The increased ability to connect with one’s inner voice is what draws many people toward the practice of yoga. In the case of those who are dealing with trauma, it may have been quite a long time since their inner voice has been loud enough to drown out the nagging chatter self-doubt, and the demanding attention of fear.
When we are driven by forces outside of ourselves, such as in the case of trauma response, we are operating under an external locus of control.
Our power to make decisions of our own free will has been replaced by outside influences. Practicing trauma-informed yoga provides a means of reconnecting with the inner self, learning to listen to the cues of the body, and learning to redirect thoughts and energy in a way that is self-nurturing.
With practice, you will learn to take back the power that has been stolen from you as a result of the experience of trauma. Learn more about our Trauma Therapy & PTSD Treatment here at Villa Kali Ma.