Yoga Can Help Trauma: 5 Ways to Help You Heal
Trauma has a way of making people feel and act in ways that they might not otherwise behave. Unprocessed trauma can lead to addictive behaviors, mental health disorders, and lots of other challenges. Yoga is one path people take to support their journey of recovery from trauma as well as addiction. Find out why yoga helps heal trauma and some tips to help get started on the journey.
How to Use Yoga
A meditative mind can help people unpack experiences in a new way. Without a cultivated attitude of looking at one’s own life, it is hard to react to circumstances that happen out of anything but fear. People who experience trauma on an ongoing basis often feel their bodies are in a fight-flight-or-freeze mode so much of the time because they are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yoga can help them process the experiences by being present, mindful, and alert to what their bodies are feeling. The following are some great tools for responding to trauma with yoga:
- Just breathe. Keep the root of attention grounded on the breath all day long. Notice when the breath picks up, tightens, or changes. As soon as a shift happens, pause and focus on the breath. Come to a comfortable position and focus on the breath. Count to 10 and breathe in through the nose, out through the nose. Repeat 10 times.
- Don’t be afraid to feel. The trauma response of fight, flight, or freeze is a response to disembodied pain. This uncomfortable feeling in the body can cause a person to judge themselves. Stop in the moment and assess what is going on. Register all the sensations but refrain from assigning or assessing value and judging the experience of those emotions. Observe what is going on and notice if there is pressure or heaviness in the body. Engage the mind and scan the body, without judgment or fixing, and work up to 20 minutes if possible.
- Pause. Even if you are not aware of a trauma response to a difficult scenario, give yourself a few hours to decompress before taking any action or making big decisions. It is common to displace anger or fear on people close to you. Press pause and be patient. Maintaining balance is key to getting through hard times in recovery.
- Practice. Sometimes in the midst of trauma, it can be tempting to stay away from the mat. This is the time you need it the most. Yoga creates an embodied presence that helps you reconnect all the feelings and sensations in your body. This can help you heal and process trauma. Just five minutes a day counts as consistent practice.
- Forgiveness. As the incident passes, work through the need to judge it. Be honest with yourself by journaling and allowing yourself to rant about the experience. Do not judge yourself for not responding how you wish. You may hold a grudge against the perpetrator and have a hard time letting go.
Once you get honest about your grievances and how you are processing them, you can start the journey of healing. Yoga can be a great restorative practice to help you heal from traumatic experiences and support your journey in recovery as you seek pathways of healing.
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