When we are experiencing something traumatic, our mind is anything but quiet. It is processing so much all at once. It may seem impossible to slow down. It may feel overwhelming to face the quiet. But, giving yourself permission to pause can be an important step in your healing journey.
When we are under great stress, we tense our muscles and our breathing becomes shallow. Tune into your body and become aware when you are breathing this way. Deep breathing has been proven to reduce stress and improve overall well-being by bringing oxygen to our cells and engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate and encouraging relaxation. Deepening your breath, bringing it down into your belly and allowing your body to expand fully with the breath can and will have a positive impact on your stress level.
We carry the weight of heavy emotions in our body. To relieve the tension that inevitably comes with trauma, it is important to move and stretch. While it may be the last thing on your mind, it can be tremendously healing to get on the mat, working through a gentle practice that focuses on the breath, quieting the mind, and releasing tension and negative energy that has accumulated as a result of the trauma. Include poses like Down Dog, Pigeon, and Bound Angle to open up and let go. (If the trauma is physical trauma, please speak with your doctor before implementing a yoga practice.)
What you are going through is incredibly hard. You may feel lost, confused, overwhelmed. Yoga can help ground you powerfully in the present moment. Incorporate grounding poses, like Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Child’s Pose and Goddess Pose into your practice to help rebuild your foundation and help you better traverse this new and challenging road you are on.
Now that you have paused and breathed and stretched and grounded, it is important to sit, tune into your body and mind and then…simply listen. What do you need? What are you feeling? Where do you go from here? Let these questtions rise up and then pause and listen. Honoring your body is more important than ever when you are experiencing something traumatic. Your body will tell you what it needs. Listen and respond with care.
Yoga has helped me cope with and heal trauma for years. It is a safe space for me to listen to my body and learn what it needs. Much of my trauma has been more physical in nature, but that has also caused psychological trauma as well. Due to the physical trauma, I have been careful to choose poses that will not put me at risk of injury, but will still allow me to care for my body and give it what it needs: to pause, to breathe, to stretch, to ground, and to listen.
If you are experiencing trauma right now, I encourage you to incorporate one or more of these steps into your day. If you would like suggestions on poses that would be most effective for you, please contact me and I will be happy to send you my recommendations.
If you are considering harming yourself or others, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Please reach out and get the support you need. Know you are loved and you are valuable and you can make it through this challenging time. You are not alone.