Trauma-Conscious Yoga Compliments Traditional Talk Therapy: 15 Ways and Reasons
Trauma and immense pain and suffering are beyond words.The unrelenting pain experienced emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually in the aftermath of trauma and profound loss simply cannot be captured through language alone. The body is expressive beyond speech.
The body has an elevated intelligence that the mind simply cannot grasp. In our culture the body is devalued; we are chronically disconnected from our inward experience. Science shows that memories are created in the body first. When we learn to listen to the body’s intuitive wisdom with curiosity and compassion, we can find ways to heal ourselves and find peace inside.
During a traumatic or emotion-driven experience, the prefrontal cortex is offline. If the prefrontal lobe, responsible for language, logic, and reason, is offline during these experiences, we cannot merely talk our way through them- we must befriend the body.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga allows for a metabolizing of trapped emotional tension. Trauma is stored in the body, the nervous system, the brain, our muscles, joints, and tissues. Our bodies tell the stories of our lives and yoga allows for a gentle entryway, an opportunity for us to hear the narrative.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga offers choice. Yoga, using a trauma-conscious approach, works with the knowledge that when a person has been victimized, their control and ability to choose was robbed from them. The trauma-conscious approach to yoga puts the survivor in the seat of expert, giving control back to the survivor.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga provides a corrective experience that teaches trust for the body. Trauma survivors and many others in our society believe their bodies have failed them in some way. Yoga helps us cultivate a shifted perspective of our bodies. It allows for a playfield of exploration to regain trust for the body, reconnection to the body, and recognition of one’s Highest Self.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga teaches self-compassion. In addition to choice, the underlying message behind Trauma-Conscious Yoga is one of mindfulness and honoring where you and your body are in the healing process at any given time.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga is an affect-regulation tool. A yoga practice is a gift that allows us the ability to self-regulate and manage challenging emotions and thoughts without going into crisis or becoming overwhelmed. The ability to quiet one’s own nervous system is a priceless gift.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga is a healthy coping skill to replace the maladaptive ones. For those who self-injure, more physically intense yoga poses can replace that urge. For those who smoke or use substances, yoga breathwork has been shown to minimize cravings. Yoga teaches us that pain is tolerable and impermanent.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga provides a sense of connectedness to others. Many of us feel disconnected from others at times; like we don’t belong. The essence of yoga is that we are all one; all connected. Simply repeating the word namaste each week starts to work on a subconscious level. We start to see ourselves in others and realize we are not alone.
Talking is not for everyone. Talking can get old. Some of us find it hard to articulate our thoughts into words. For others, talking about our lives jolts us outside of our window of tolerance. With trauma-conscious yoga you don’t have to talk about the details and you can still release tension and pain from your body and mind.
When we are quiet, we gain insight. When we go to be quiet with ourselves, our minds seldom are. And if we compassionately listen to the mind chatter and begin to understand the quality of our thoughts, we learn where we can grow.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga can help us evolve spiritually. Trauma creates a spiritual crisis. The cultivation of self-compassion, patience, trust and connectedness lead us to grow spiritually. The rich philosophical backdrop of yoga takes us down a spiritual path, as we are ready.
Trauma-Conscious Yoga helps us move beyond the body. Yoga teaches us that two primary roots of our suffering are attachment and the ego. The ego in yoga relates to our limiting belief that the body/mind is who we truly are. Deeper into the path of yoga we contemplate these ideas move from limited living to freedom.
When we have experienced significant healing, we can be of service. This is like taking yoga off the mat, or therapy outside of the office. Yoga is not merely about finding your own bliss and leaving it at that. Yoga is about flowing into the world and being of service to others. None of us are free until we are all free.