The majority of us will experience trauma at one point or another in our lives. On average, 60% of men and 50% of women report experiencing trauma at least once, and around 6% of people have experienced PTSD at least once. Increasingly, people are seeing the benefits of yoga therapy for trauma and PTSD treatment.
Trauma-informed yoga therapy is all about addressing individual trauma needs with a concentration on mind-body techniques.
Statistically, men experience trauma more often from physical assault, combat, disaster, accidents, or witnessing others’ deaths or injuries. By contrast, women experience trauma more often from sexual assault or child sexual abuse.
Trauma presents itself in a variety of ways, including both physical and emotional types of trauma responses:
Physical Responses: Survivors of a distressing event may experience increased heart rate, bodily pains, fatigue, poor concentration, loss of appetite, and sudden panic attacks. Keep in mind that physical reactions may come and go without any warning.
Emotional and Mental Responses: Emotional responses are often the most common symptoms in survivors. Depression, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, guilt, shame, and denial are all psychological responses to distressing experiences.
Without proper intervention and emotional support, trauma can rob survivors of their happiness and their ability to confront their inner struggles. Fortunately, with the help of a knowledgeable yoga therapist, yoga techniques can be applied to help the mind and body heal from all types of trauma, both physical and emotional.
When you experience trauma, it might be hard to pinpoint what you’re feeling. It’s also hard for your body and brain to comprehend everything. As a result, your muscles tense up and your brain might go into overdrive because you’re constantly trying to protect yourself. Eventually, you might shut down — or lash out.
“It doesn’t have to be a major event in someone’s life. It can be just something gradual — something insidious — that just slowly seeps in and you don’t even realize it. Then, at some point, you realize that you don’t feel good and you’re not sure why.
Trauma-informed, or trauma-sensitive yoga, is not designed to take you back to the source of your pain. Its purpose is to help you become more aware of what’s going on in your body. Once you tap into that, you can work on releasing built-up emotions, stress and tension.
“When you experience trauma, the pathways that connect in your brain can disconnect. So, when people go to a therapist and they try to talk about what happened, they literally can’t find the words. That’s part of the trauma response. We’ve learned that those pathways have to be reconnected before you can start verbally working through your trauma
Many conventional approaches are only part of the therapy needed to support those who have experienced large traumatic events and need help in processing trauma.
While talk therapy lets us understand our story in a cognitive way, yoga therapy can help reshape our response to triggers on all levels of our being. Both parts are important. Working with all aspects of oneself is essential to healing.
In one study which used gentle yoga for healing classes to help women with PTSD, participants had a 30% reduction of symptoms. More striking to me is that several of the participants no longer qualified as having PTSD after just 10 weeks of yoga.
Benefits of yoga for trauma can include:
Fewer PTSD symptoms or trauma responses
Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
Better mood and sleep quality
Stronger emotional regulation
Better concentration and attention
More bodily and mental awareness
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