Ever since my Yoga to Transform Trauma intensive and the start of my YTT I've been asked why I'm adding these to my psych edu & training. Talk therapy can undoubtedly lead survivors of trauma toward healing and adding a complementary somatic based form of treatment (such as yoga) can deepen their awareness to a more visceral level, the level at which the trauma entered the body. Ultimately allowing for healing to begin from the point of entry and not just the mind. So, instead of suggesting that my clients begin yoga, I will be able work with them.
Our bodies actually hold on to trauma, as Bessel A. van der Kolk says, "our body keeps the score". The traumatic memories are somatically stored in our cells. This is how we experience vivid flashbacks, intrusive memories, heightened anxiety/fear...etc. when faced with a trigger (which could be anything). Our body will react as though it is reliving the event. These occurrences slowly cause us to feel disconnected from our body; we may feel that we have lost control of it, we may develop a fear from the uncertainty of when and how our body is going to react to. So we begin to avoid places, people. Maybe we withdraw to keep our bodies away from uncertainty. Sometimes we may view our body as the enemy, no longer feeling safe in our own skin.
Yoga allows us to regain trust over our bodies. Yoga allows us to slowly begin to feel SAFE in our skin. Yoga provides us with the tools to feel strong, empowered. Yoga reminds us of the crucial and calming power of the breath and that it's okay to get into child's pose whenever you need. Yoga teaches us that forward folds are a quick and easy way to calm the nervous system because the forward bend at the hip activates the vagus nerve. Yoga reminds us how to be in the present, it trains our mind in mindfulness, to tolerate challenges and explore our abilities while listening to our bodies and holding off when experiencing pain. We also learn the difference between healthy discomfort that can lead to growth and pain. Once we regain that deep connection to our physical body a boost of self-love comes to life. Yoga fine tunes your autonomic nervous system.