By Faye Martins
What are trauma sensitive yoga poses? The regular practice of sitting Yoga asanas can help trauma survivors to relax and release deeply held muscular and emotional tension. Trauma survivors often experience a rigid sense of holding in order to prevent themselves from remembering the painful experiences they have been through and to protect themselves from further pain and trauma. This holding or freezing is a basic instinctual reaction during a terrifying and painful situation. However, over time this rigid freezing is counterproductive because it limits the flow of life force energy throughout the body and prevents the survivor from integrating the traumatizing experience into his or her conscious awareness.
Effective Trauma Sensitive Yoga Poses
Supported Forward Fold, Seated Twist and Fire Log Pose are all very effective trauma sensitive yoga poses that are available to Yoga practitioners of all levels. Seated Yoga asanas that are practiced in a restorative manner are particularly nourishing and relaxing. Restorative Poses will also help a trauma survivor to feel held and supported. Supported Forward Fold is an accessible Yoga asana that allows a trauma survivor to relax and release a feeling of being frozen.
This restorative asana also offers a trauma survivor the opportunity to take a break from the constant recycling of painful emotions and experiences. Seated Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana will help to open up both sides of the torso and release tension throughout the upper back, arms, shoulders and neck. This pose also offers a wonderful opportunity for introducing the linking of breath to movement in a non-intimidating fashion. Fire Log Pose is a powerful yet simple asana for releasing pervasive tension in the hips that is very common in trauma survivors who have suffered sexual abuse.
Supported Forward Fold
To practice Supported Forward Fold, you will need a Yoga bolster or a sturdy pillow. Come to an easy seat on your Yoga mat and stretch your feet out in front of you. Keep your feet evenly aligned with each other and your legs gently touching. Place the Yoga bolster, pillow or a rolled blanket lengthwise across your knees. Take one complete Yogic breath and with your next exhale bend forward over the bolster. Rest your forehead on the bolster and breath deeply.
Rest your hands at your sides or on your knees, shins or ankles. Relax and release your body weight into the bolster. Feel the bolster or blanket holding the weight of your body. Try to relax and melt into the bolster. While in the pose, practice pratyahara by withdrawing your senses inward and feeling your own internal spaciousness. Hold this pose for one to five minutes. With your next inhale, slowly rise back up to a comfortable sitting position. Seated trauma sensitive yoga poses are a good start on the road to recovery.
Self-Hugging and Neck Release as Trauma Sensitive Yoga Poses
Self-hugging and neck release are powerful practices that can foster self-compassion in trauma-informed yoga. These simple yet effective techniques help individuals connect with their bodies, providing comfort and safety.
In self-hugging, practitioners gently wrap their arms around themselves, embracing their own bodies. This gesture sends a message of love and care to oneself, creating a nurturing space. It allows individuals to feel supported and held during moments of vulnerability.
Neck release is another valuable tool for cultivating self-compassion. Trauma often manifests as tension or tightness in various body areas, including the neck and shoulders. By consciously releasing this tension through gentle movements or stretches, individuals can experience physical relief while promoting emotional well-being.
When practicing self-hugging and neck release in trauma-informed yoga, it is important to approach these movements with gentleness and mindfulness. Each individual’s experience will be unique; some may find comfort in holding certain positions longer or adjusting the pressure applied during the embrace or stretch.
As you engage in these practices, pay attention to any emotions or sensations within your body. Allow yourself to experience them without judgment or resistance fully. Remember that healing takes time and patience – be kind to yourself.
If at any point during these exercises, you feel overwhelmed or triggered by memories or emotions surfacing, remember that you have control over your practice. You can pause momentarily, take a deep breath, and ground yourself through intentional movement like tapping your feet on the floor rhythmically before continuing forward.
By incorporating self-hugging and neck release into a sequence trauma sensitive yoga poses regularly, you provide an opportunity for nourishing both mind and body.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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