Why yoga for trauma recovery?
Trauma expresses itself as an emotional or physical response to harmful events that you’ve experienced. It can have a long-lasting negative effect on your mental health and wellbeing.
Yoga treats your body and mind in unison. The breathing and mindfulness exercises calm your parasympathetic nervous system, regulate your fight-or-flight response, and normalise your cortisol levels. The poses build strength and balance. Together, these practices help to return your body and mind to a state where they can start to heal.
Trauma-informed yoga takes into account that some standard yoga practices may be challenging for a trauma survivor. It focuses on providing a safe and secure experience where you are supported and nurtured to find a sense of embodiment and safely reconnect with your body.
HOW YOGA CAN HELP WITH TRAUMA RECOVERY
Reduces stress and anxiety: Yoga helps you learn to notice and accept your emotions and develop a relaxed state. Khalsa tells us that yoga is “very effective at regulating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline”.
Improves concentration: The slowness of yoga and the focus on movements can help you develop improved concentration and the ability to return to a place of emotional safety after a distressing memory emerges.
Increases happiness: Yoga and associated mediation techniques can help you generate positive emotions and reduce negative ones.
Enhances general health: Yoga can improve your breathing techniques and help you relax, which in turn can reduce your blood pressure.
As yoga teacher Rolf Gates said: “The real payoff of a yoga practice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.”
At The Connected Center, Araluen also uses yoga as part of a holistic multi-disciplinary treatment programme, where she incorporates the principles into mindful self-compassion sessions.