Trauma is about your body getting stuck in a stage of sensations that are intolerable.
Yoga helps you re-own your body. Yoga makes it safe to feel things you may be afraid to feel. When you do yoga, you can put yourself in uncomfortable poses and realize it will come to an end.
Trauma-informed yoga is based on a particular understanding of trauma, one that emphasizes its impact on the entire mind-body system. “Trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body.” -from Body Keeps the Score.
When someone suffers with trauma, and wants to engage in yoga to help the mind & body heal, it's important to understand that there are 8 Limbs of Yoga a person needs to consider in their yoga practice. These 8 limbs of yoga include self-restraint, observance, movement and postures, the breath, withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation, and union.
Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past. -Source: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
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"Our research shows that a steady yoga practice for a traumatized person is more effective than any medication that has been studied."
How does yoga practice impact people who have experienced trauma?
When people think about trauma, they generally think of it as a historical event that happened some time ago. Trauma is actually the residue from the past as it settles into your body. It’s located inside your own skin. When people are traumatized, they become afraid of their physical sensations; their breathing becomes shallow, and they become uptight and frightened about what they’re feeling inside. When you slow down your breathing with yoga, you can increase your heart rate variability, and that decreases stress. Yoga opens you up to feeling every aspect of your body’s sensations. It’s a gentle, safe way for people to befriend their bodies, where the trauma of the past is stored.
"Our research shows that a steady yoga practice for a traumatized person is more effective than any medication that has been studied." -Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps The Score.