You’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga. It’s a great way to strengthen your mind and body. It’s a spiritual and physical discipline with Indian roots that date back centuries before our time. There’s a lot of mainstream buzz surrounding the healthy benefits of yoga. But, there’s a lesser known purpose you might not know about.
Now, there’s growing evidence that aspects of yoga can be used to promote healing for individuals with trauma. As a trauma professional, this exciting and promising news is life changing.
Trauma is a generic and broad word. So, let’s get more specific about the type of trauma that’s often healed by trauma informed yoga.
Research and professional experience indicates that Individuals with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), developmental trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may all benefit from trauma informed yoga.
The specific benefits include helping clients regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination—re-thinking the same thoughts repeatedly which can quickly increase anxiety and deepen depression and help improve self-regulation—one’s ability to manage emotions effectively.
We’ve all heard the stories of people displaying superhuman strength in the face of physical adversity; lifting a car off someone trapped below or treading water for hours or days until help arrives. This ability is because of the brain’s ability to respond immediately to threatening situations with a surge of stress hormones. We call it fight or flight mode, but few folks know about the brain’s third optional response mode of freeze.
In describing the freeze response, Peter Levine uses the example of a cheetah stalking an impala. When the cheetah catches its prey, the impala falls to the ground and plays dead to protect himself. The numbness will lessen the pain or terror that would normally follow even if its killed.
Fight, flight and freeze are all normal responses to extreme threat. It becomes a problem when responses persist in the body after the danger has passed. Bessel van der Kolk, a pioneer in the field of trauma, describes trauma as “hijacking the body.” The body, along with the mind, remains in a state of high alert (fight or flight) or under-arousal (freeze). Trauma takes a heavy toll on the body—the body absorbs and anticipates trauma making the individual more likely to be hyper-alert, hyper-aroused and unable to calm themselves.
How does this relate to trauma informed yoga?
Through trauma informed yoga, the body is given the opportunity to let go of the need to fight, flee or freeze. This is taught by learning to release tension, reduce fear, and tolerate body sensation. Trauma informed yoga helps you learn to calm your mind and calm your physical responses too, and, in turn, your emotions.
Furthermore, it can help you regain a feeling of safety inside your own body. At first glance, trauma informed yoga looks a lot like traditional yoga. But, once you begin the class, the differences become apparent.
Trauma informed yoga does not focus on poses, or breathing. It’s about letting the body feel what it feels, without judgement and with a developing knowledge that it is safe in this place and safe within your own body.
I’m beginning a trauma informed yoga class on Thursday, October 5th from 10 to 11 am.
There are two requirements to attend the class; you have a trauma history, and you are currently active in therapy addressing your trauma. If you fall into both of those categories, I’d love to have you join us on Friday mornings at 10 am.
If you read this post and think, “this describes me but I’m not in therapy,” please give us a call! We have several trauma therapists available to meet with you individually.
I look forward to you joining us as we work toward establishing a safe place in class and, most importantly, within your body.
If you’ve experienced an extremely stressful or disturbing event that’s left you feeling hopeless and emotionally unstable, you may have been traumatized. Emotional trauma can leave you struggling with difficult emotions, memories, flashbacks and anxiety that won’t go away. Trauma can also leave you feeling numb and disconnected from others. It’s not something you can just “get over”. Healing from emotional trauma is a process. Luckily, there are things you can do to speed up your recovery.
Step One: Reestablish a Routine
After a traumatic event, getting back to a routine can help speed up the healing process. There’s comfort in the familiar. Even if your professional routine is disrupted from the trauma, try to establish a new normal with things like eating, sleeping and spending time with others who support you.
Step Two: Get Moving
Physical activity has many proven health benefits. It can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and memory loss. Exercise works as an instant mood boost which is essential when recovering from trauma. Burn off adrenaline and release endorphins that lead to healthy, holistic healing. This is why we offer yoga at our Trauma Center in Raleigh specifically designed for healing trauma.
Step Three: Stay Connected
Healthy relationships, group activities, and social events are beneficial to those healing from trauma. The most important thing is NOT to isolate. You might fell unsure about others. Some emotional trauma sufferers are unable to trust others. Support and open communication are essential in healing.
Step Four: Eat Right
Food is fuel for your body. Your thoughts and feelings can be affected by what you eat. The gut-brain connection is an essential part of overall wellness. Your gut and brain are connected through millions of nerves. Fermented foods (like yogurt) and Omega-3 fats are great choices to help ensure your gut-brain connection runs smoothly.
Step Five: Join a Support Group
You don’t have to suffer alone. Our Trauma Center in Raleigh, NC, offers specific support and healing for those who suffer from trauma. Work with a professional who can help you heal. Our team can help you gain freedom from your struggles.
Learn more about our Trauma Recovery Center and the programs available for holistic healing.
There’s no shortage of information out there on ways to take care of your physical health, but many often overlook the importance of mental wellness. Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Here are 5 easy tips you can incorporate into your daily routine for better mental wellness.
Take care of your body.
Physical and mental wellness go hand-in-hand. There are so many proven ways exercise helps promote overall wellness. Aim for even a short walk each day. Eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated and incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine.
Set realistic goals.
Perfectionism is dangerous and unhealthy. It’s OK to aim high and have goals in life but don’t overdo it! Pushing yourself too hard (physically and mentally) can lead to burnout. Realistic goals will help you feel a great sense of achievement which is wonderful for your confidence and wellbeing.
Build a good support system.
Surround yourself with people who love and care about you. Strong family and/or social connections are often a great system of support. Be open and discuss your thoughts, feelings and goals with your group so they can be there for you in good times and in bad.
Let’s face it, stress is a normal part of life. It’s all about how you manage it. Develop a variety of calming techniques. We recommend meditation and practicing mindfulness. Try to take mental breaks throughout the day to reflect on the present moment and combat anxiety.
Above all, seek help.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year. It’s time to end the stigma surrounding mental health and work to normalize the conversation. It’s OK to seek help for stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems etc.
At Foundations Family Therapy, we’re here to walk along side of you in the struggle, to help you connect, grow, and change. We provide superior services using evidence based practices. Let us help you be your best self today!
When people think of trauma, they think of something that happened some time ago. The truth is, trauma is something that settles and continues to grow within when left untreated. If you’ve been traumatized, it’s likely you have a complicated relationship with your body and emotions. Yoga can help restore your relationship with your body, emotions and inner self. Here’s how yoga’s therapeutic and restorative benefits can help start the healing process.
Yoga helps you develop a loving relationship with your body. Yoga is really about developing a deeper sense of oneself. When used to treat trauma, it can help some regain control of their bodies. Its stretching and stabilizing motions help build strength both physically and mentally. As your body becomes strong, so does your inner strength. Many people are able to emerge from tragedy and life a fulfilling life because of yoga.
Our Foundations Center for Trauma Recovery offers holistic wrap-around services like yoga for trauma as part of the healing process. Yoga is a tool you can use to deal with emotional scars. It creates a heightened sense of body awareness, embodiment, and empowerment. These are powerful outcomes for trauma survivors! It’s important to remember that trauma-sensitive yoga is different from other types of yoga because it puts an emphasis on making people feel safe while giving them choices about how to execute their poses and control their bodies.
We’re taking sign ups for our August 2018 groups of yoga-sensitive trauma. If you are someone you know is interested, contact Sharon at 919-285-4802 today for more information.
Foundations Family Therapy is excited to roll out this 8 week program that can help overcome depression, anxiety, and stress and teach you new ways to respond to your thoughts and feelings. This exclusive program is limited to 10 participants and BCBS & Aetna insurance plans are accepted and billed for participants. You can sign up by contacting Sharon at (919) 285-4802 (x703) for $25/session or $175 paid in full.
Learn more about natural and holistic approaches that will help you live in the present. Practicing mindfulness has many positive benefits that can help you enjoy a more rewarding and fulfilling life. Instead of dwelling in the past or future, youll learn how to focus on the present.
Our 8 week program will also help participants develop techniques that build resilience to help better cope with unpleasant experiences in life. Youll learn how to treat yourself with kindness and respond to your own thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. These are just a few benefits of this wonderful program! Make this summer the summer of positive change by putting your mental health first.