Welcome, followers ! All yogi/yoginis know about the main health benefits of practicing; mainly, reducing stress, stretching & strengthening all areas of our bodies, aligning our chakras (another blog post on this later) for starters. Yoga is also known for easing the effects of trauma in our lives. Many of us don’t live on or near a peaceful area, a park, or even a quiet backyard. We might be used to the fast-paced city life, the loud noises, struggling with mental health issues, or reliving childhood trauma that continue to flood our minds. Mental health (& trauma, for our purposes) go hand in hand with yoga. When someone is consumed by trauma they may feel like they are constantly in fight or flight mode – they can’t calm down or relax, their breath is fast-paced, their mind is working in overdrive. Everything around them may be so chaotic and there is never a way to find time for peace and quiet.
Yoga has been proven to reduce all of the effects that trauma has on one’s body. Specifically, anger subsides, medication is needed and/or requested less often, self-esteem increases, and individual’s developed skills that could be used in stressful situations. Being included in a yoga class also develops a sense of belonging, being accepted as you are, and gives students a strong sense of support even as they struggle which build trust. Yoga is the perfect mind-body connection that addresses the effects of trauma. During a yoga practice, breathing becomes regulated, calming the parasympathetic nervous system, while remaining present in our bodies counteract some of the dissociative effects of trauma. Of course a strong physical yoga practice improves overall health as well.
Depending on the type of trauma one has endured, the student can arrive to yoga feeling powerless. Yoga is more about listening to your body, looking inside yourself to find out what your body and mind thrive on, and reflecting how our environment impacts our lives. We all have the power to bring stillness into our daily lives. During a traumatic experience, people may not be able to control the situation around them. However, during a yoga practice, students have a choice in every movement they take. They have the power to say ‘yes, I want a challenge,’ or ‘no, I don’t feel comfortable trying a headstand today’ or maybe the student doesn’t want to be physically adjusted in class by the instructor. Yoga helps the student take control of their life again, to help them feel normalcy . Even if an individual has been struck by trauma, we can always take a step back and find stillness within the chaos.