Is Yoga for trauma training effective? Yes, however, it is a process. Traumatic events can leave long-lasting damage. Yet, many trauma survivors benefit from reclaiming their mind and body through the practice of Yoga. This healing exercise can be used to treat both physical trauma and psychological trauma. In addition, different types of trauma have different effects on the body and mind. Consequently, trauma affects people in a variety of ways. It is equally important to note that Yoga has multiple avenues of positive influence on the body and mind. Therefore, it can be used as an adjunct therapy to effectively treat the resulting effects of trauma.
Why is Yoga Suitable for PTSD?
Yoga is one of many individualized health treatments that can be successful for people suffering from PTSD. However, what makes it unique? Yoga combines postures with breathing exercises and meditation. All of the components, which make Yoga also relieve stress, manifest calmness, and create wellbeing. Yoga has been effective in reducing post-traumatic distress disorder symptoms among injured trauma survivors. As a result, Yoga gives survivors an increased sense of tranquility and peace. As a matter of fact, Yoga and mindfulness meditation has helped those suffering from PTSD due to war experiences.
These Yogic practices manage and prevent the escalation of symptoms (i.e., anxiety, hypervigilance, and sleeping problems). Furthermore, Yoga reduces the risk of developing secondary health problems (i.e., back pain, headaches, hypertension, and allergies). In addition to reduced symptoms, survivors experienced decreased perception of anxiety and depression after Yoga sessions. This could redirect their attention to the present. Mindful attentiveness helps one move away from traumatic memories while taking more ownership of the present and future. (Kilpatrick, Kylee Richard & Fields, Jennifer L., 2014)
Mindfulness for All
Mindfulness has also been found to reduce physical signs of stress in veterans. The simple practice of focusing one’s attention on the internal and external stimuli has shown to improve sleep. Additionally, there was decreased pain and fatigue and improved resilience to other kinds of stress. (Zinnbauer et al., 2013; Mayraz et. al, 2010; Zinnbauer et. al., 2013) In many ways and in many studies, it makes sense to use mindfulness as a way of coping.
As the stress and mindfulness literature suggests, these techniques reduce anxiety. Equally important is the development of perseverance and using it through any difficult environment. The components of Yoga and mindfulness could easily be applied to stressors in the course of a day. Of course, Yoga requires continued training and perseverance. Yoga and mindfulness are often used to prepare and cope with any obstacles that come one’s way.
About Psychological Trauma
Psychological trauma can sometimes be even more difficult to overcome than physical trauma. As the wounds are not physical, they will not simply heal over time. Emotional wounds must be addressed, nurtured, and helped to heal. Yoga is an exercise that can be utilized in order to deal with psychological trauma. Yoga also teaches healthy coping mechanisms when combined with meditation. Any technique can be practiced by the patient when he or she is facing difficult situations related to trauma.
How Yoga Helps
Incidents of physical trauma, such as a car accident, or violence, leave visible signs for a long time. Even after the initial trauma heals, there are frequently smaller secondary injuries. Additionally, there may be follow up surgeries, prolonged pain, or hidden injuries from the initial trauma to be addressed. Healing from trauma is something that requires an investment of time and effort. That said, people who select Yoga as their treatment plan find that it works the best over time.
Different Types of Trauma
Types of trauma vary depending on the individual experience. Yet, trauma can include natural disasters, witnessing death or injury, wars and other armed conflicts, abuse, kidnappings, and terrorism. Psychological reactions to trauma can be different from person to person. It may take weeks, months, or even years for trauma to show itself. Not everyone will have a psychological reaction. When someone encounters trauma, it is beneficial to have a coping mechanism, or two, for help. For example, sometimes people need to talk about their experiences. Other times, they might find solace in self-care alone. It is important to inventory the individual’s needs and find out what works best for them.
Questions to Ask Before Starting
Whether you teach or are in need of healing, below are two questions to consider. These questions make it possible to look ahead and realize that recovery is a process, which takes time. Trauma that stays with you, and breaks your sleep patterns, will not be instantly released. However, there is a path of progress and we will look at methods that get results today.
Will Yoga Be Appropriate for You?
Considering you have PTSD, any type of yoga practice should always be discussed with your physician before you do it. Questions to ask the instructor are as follows. Are poses easy on the joints, or will poses place too much stress on them? Will the instructor offer modifications based on needs? Are there other physical activity offerings that could better suit this? Will practitioners learn the skills to recognize and monitor emotional practice at home? Are there physical changes that may alert students to risks of injury? Pay special attention to such questions given the nature of your illness.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects people in different ways. Additionally, recovery varies from person to person. Nevertheless, people who have been physically injured are facing a lengthy time for recovery. There is a process of re-learning physical and mental skills in order to regain overall fitness. Certainly, this type of professional help takes time.
People who suffer from PTSD can feel stuck and isolated because it’s so hard to understand what’s happening within your mind. At the same time, we may avoid doing things that remind us of the trauma. With that said, we do things to try and reduce anxiety, like drinking or self-medicating. Consequently, this often ends up worsening the symptoms.
Origin of Yoga
If you’re considering Yoga as an adjunct PTSD treatment, be sure to ask yourself about the origin of Yoga. Does Yoga have an underlying philosophy? Will this match my spiritual values and beliefs? What’s the class like? Is it a specialized class for PTSD? In many respects, it is much like any other type of therapy or treatment. However, Yoga classes differ from therapeutic to traditional. So, you should ask questions and/or try a class to be sure.
How Does Yoga Work With PTSD?
Disturbing memories can be a standard part of the condition. In fact, officials associated with the US Defense Department are 50 percent more likely compared to civilians to have PTSD. Understanding doesn’t prevent PTSD, but it’s increasingly being recognized as a risk factor for the military. During this time of increased risk for PTSD, anyone may feel miserable and unsure about their job. Visualization (often with visual aids) can also be useful. Even when you are working with a medical professional to manage PTSD, your determination for success is part of the solution.
Standard Medical Approach
Medical doctors will typically recommend psychological treatment in conjunction with pharmacological management. In this case, the PTSD treatment protocol you may be working through will likely have a relaxation component. Using your foundational breathing skills and a stress-reducing technique with your body will also serve you well. Your best defenses against PTSD are treatments, medications, and psychological counseling.
The first question to address is whether or not you’re ready to work on yourself, because if you’re not, you won’t want to do it. Once your answer internally aligns with this response, then ask questions like:
1) Am I willing to show up 1-3 times per week for an extended period of time?
2) Am I willing to take responsibility for what I eat?
3) Am I comfortable trying different techniques mentioned in class?
4) Can my schedule match the frequency and duration of my appointments?
The purpose of asking these questions is to establish whether or not the care provider is a right fit for your needs.
Pranayama for Trauma
Yoga seems like it only involves the postures during physical practice, but it is actually more about peace of mind. The deep breathing that accompanies Yoga for trauma training is scientifically proven to reduce stress hormones. This decrease in stress hormones also prevents high blood pressure. After all, high blood pressure is common in people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Try slowing down your breathing. It might seem like a minute or so of concentrated, deep inhales and exhales would not have much of an effect. With practice, you will realize deep breathing acts fast. In response to these deep breaths, your body will release endorphins and a sense of well-being. At the same time, both contribute to overall health, which can also include your nervous system.
Yoga and Meditation for PTSD
Whether or not you accept Yoga for trauma training as a valid treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s undeniable that if practiced diligently over time it can help anyone relax and find their center. For someone with PTSD, it becomes a grounding and empowering habit. If you’re living with the condition, it becomes essential to your healing after trauma. Yoga is also an excellent complementary therapy for depression because this ancient practice teaches self-help and relaxation strategies.
How Yoga Works for PTSD
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is an involuntary branch of the Autonomic Nervous System that slows down your heart rate and allows you to rest. It’s also what prompts you to take long, deep breaths when you are feeling anxiety or other physiological symptoms caused by stress. The Focus of the Practice: Instead of teaching you breathing exercises, Greco teaches you how to get and maintain proper breath by practicing movements (such as the Sun Salutes).
Your focus is instinctive breathing when you are physically engaged in the practice of yoga: rather than taking several deep abdominal breaths while you hold a pose. Instead, the focus of the practice is on long, deep breaths while you slightly open your eyes and look to the horizon without moving anything but your diaphragm. Once you are focused on your breath (and are calm), do the necessary poses and hold them throughout the breath consciously, teaching your body to breathe at all times. This will allow you to quietly, almost imperceptibly hold your poses while clearly focusing on the sound of your breath.
Meditation for PTSD
Understand that meditation is the practice of forcing yourself to be present with what mentally, and sometimes physically, transport you out of the room. Be patient with yourself when you first begin sitting down in a cross-legged position, focusing on yourself and practicing. Try to accept the posture as it is now, knowing that as you practice there will be physical adjustments. Patience will not only help you independently combat distractions but sitting -the on-the-mat with patience will eventually lead to a greater sense of stillness, efficiency, and peace.
Benefits of Short Meditation Sessions
For most people shorter meditation sessions will be beneficial. Firstly, poor circulation does not agree with long meditation sessions. Secondly, some patients and practitions experience cramps and/or muscle contractions. Thirdly, there must be flexibility with postures and the amount of time for practice. Finally, there is nothing wrong with sitting in a chair or walking during meditation.
Purpose of the Teacher
The teacher is a guide and the path does not need to be a strict one. Moreover, too much of a big deal is made about posturing. Why should a student break his or her knees to suffer in Lotus Pose? Not to mention the poor souls, with bad circulation, trying to remain in Thunder Bolt Pose. How can chair sitting societies learn to sit on the floor? If you teach, you see where I am going. Then, we must slow our roll, unless, we want to help students injure their knees.
Time for Compassion
Strangely, some students will love us for hurting them. Other students deeply appreciate a teacher’s honesty and compassion. Be that as it may, TKV Desikachar taught with compassion. Regardless of a student’s ability, he always modified, helped, and improved the method for the student. In contrast, there are some teachers who shall not be named. Their class time is their playtime and their atmosphere is a circus. Students will flock to them no matter what they do. My point is simple: Postures for meditation can and should be modified when needed. Even though a student may not have perfect posture, we know a straight back is the goal. Chairs give students the option to continue.
PTSD and Mental Trauma
Yoga for PTSD treatment is beneficial because it provides a way to cope with stressful and mental trauma. Practicing Yoga regularly for at least eight weeks causes changes in brain patterns, decreased anxiety, and escape from triggers. It is gentle and does not require vigorous workouts or intense commitment.
Direction and Practice
Get the right practice. It is recommended to consult with your physician before pursuing Yoga for trauma training. Yoga instructors and experienced practitioners can provide useful tips regarding poses that can be considered beginner-level and are best for people with PTSD. These poses can be done at your own level, taking into consideration the demands of the relationship between the body and mind. Make sure to warm up before taking a yoga class. Try doing a gentle jog, take a walk, or attend a cardiovascular yoga class. Experts also recommend seeing a physical therapist to assess your joints, muscle length and flexibility before joining a yoga class. He or she can also provide suggestions or modifications to the pose if needed. The second stage in practicing yoga for PTSD is to learn about the purpose of each pose and understand them as special tools for healing the mind and body.
About Physical Trauma
Muscle tearing, bone fractures, lacerations, bruising, and edema are common physical manifestations of trauma. This type of damage causes pain and discomfort, but Yoga can be used to relieve both of these unpleasant sensations. The artful stretching involved in yoga improves blood flow to the skeletal muscle in the body, resulting in better oxygenation of the tissues and more flexibility in the muscles. Yoga promotes healing through improved circulation; muscle pain is relieved by this.
Recovery From Physical Trauma
Chemical processes within the body begin to work at an optimal level of functioning when yoga is practiced regularly. This not only improves the overall health of an individual, which prompts more rapid healing of traumatic injuries but is also largely responsible for promoting the release of stress-relieving hormones. Healing is a simpler process when stress levels are low. This is essential not only in instances of physical trauma but also when an individual has suffered an event of psychological trauma.
Research has found that yoga can be a successful PTSD treatment for survivors of sexual assault. It can also be effective at treating trauma related to child abuse, combat, capture, self-harming behaviors, police brutality, racism, and homophobia. Yoga helps people who have experienced trauma because it teaches them ways to feel grounded in their bodies. This tends to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression which are common among individuals who have experienced trauma.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga for trauma training is an effective form of treatment for PTSD because it increases blood flow, releases endorphins, increases flexibility, improves balance, and increases your heart rate. Yoga also helps promote better sleep by increasing melatonin production, reducing cortisol levels, and improving breathing rates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who do Yoga are less likely to have flashbacks or panic attacks. Yoga may have helped alleviate my PTSD symptoms with the reductions in my nightmares that I experienced when I slept 6-8 hours at a time without any disruptions. While PTSD symptoms can vary from one person to another and change over time, I believe yoga helped clear my mind and fight off some of the negative influences in my mind.
Demand for Yoga Today
One of the biggest drawbacks is that Yoga for trauma training isn’t readily accessible to most people, especially ones in crisis and with limited resources. Most yoga studios require a mat fee, some of which cost hundreds of dollars and many require various registration fees and additional classes that can add up to an expensive monthly budget. Yoga studios are typically located in urban settings, which isn’t easy to access for most people who live in rural areas, which helped me to have the courage and confidence to teach yoga.
Flashbacks and Insomnia
Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise that people use to relieve stress and depression. While yoga isn’t always recommended as an approach for PTSD (especially if you haven’t previously exercised), it is known to help manage flashbacks and insomnia at least some of the time. How meditation can help. Meditation is a way of focusing on your breathing or on a word or phrase to bring yourself into the present moment.
Yoga is an extremely versatile form of exercise that can be tailored to your specific needs. It has proved to be an invaluable treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, but there are many other ways it can help people. If you’re trying to improve your health or want to live a balanced life, Yoga for trauma training is for you. If you find yourself struggling with PTSD, there are different types of therapy and coping skills to explore. It’s crucial to focus on self-control and accepting the past. These skills will help you through both the day and night. You can create new meaning for your life and improve your relationships when things seem tough or lost.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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