Yoga Therapy: Benefits for Trauma Treatment and Mind-Body Wellness

 / 

, ,
yoga therapy

When talk therapy alone doesn’t address the effects of trauma held in the body, consider yoga therapy as a complementary approach toward mind-body healing.

Eastern traditions have long recognized the importance of the mind-body connection for general wellness, and Western thought is beginning to follow suit. An increasing amount of research is emerging to support this link. Yoga in particular has become especially popular in recent years as a way to facilitate the mind-body connection and is now one of the most widely practiced forms of complementary health care in the United States.

Demonstrated to have benefit in the treatment of numerous physical health conditions and mental health concerns, stress and trauma-related issues among them, yoga is utilized by many to cultivate mindfulness through a combination of physical movement, breathing exercises, and relaxation. Yoga therapy, in fact, is a growing field of mental health treatment.

Yoga Therapy: Benefits for Trauma Treatment and Mind-Body Wellness

Yoga And Stress Response

Many studies have observed the effect of yoga on the fight-or-flight response, which is the body’s natural reaction to stressful and life-threatening situations. The fight-or-flight response, intended to save us from immediate physical danger, can also be experienced when we encounter stress, such as a life change, a toxic relationship, or the challenges of addiction recovery.

Chronic stress and levels of cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone) that are consistently elevated underlie many physical and mental health issues. Regular practice of yoga, however, has been found to naturally decrease cortisol levels. This natural decrease of cortisol can give the body a chance to return to a state of restful awareness. Restful awareness allows the physical impact of the flight-or-flight response to normalize and gives the body the opportunity to heal.

Related: How Yoga Can Help With Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Research Reveals

Treating Trauma: Yoga Therapy

During traumatic experiences, the body may become dysregulated by either over-activation or suppression of the fight-or-flight response. When this occurs, we become overloaded, and the result may be a state of mind that is too anxious, trapped, or some sort of fluctuation between the two. Trauma may be held in the body through heightened or dysregulated physiological states and somatic symptoms. The body itself, then, contains and manifests much of the pain experienced after a traumatic event. As has been said, “The issues live in the tissues.”

When working with individuals who have experienced interpersonal trauma, mental health professionals may find traditional talk therapy alone is not always the most effective course of action.

A cognitive symptom of trauma exposure is difficulty or impaired ability to remember, verbalize, and/or process one’s experiences. Therefore, insight-based approaches often are not sufficient on their own. Furthermore, trauma and its effects are so often entrenched and complex that a change in a cognitive frame or behavioral pattern ignores a very basic but critical element: the body.

Techniques working to help increase awareness of internal states and physiological responses to both internal and external stimuli have demonstrated promise in addressing trauma in the body. Reorienting an individual to their body is often a key to unlocking their pain and building a path toward healing.

Related: Studies Show How Yoga Will Help You Fight Depression

What Is Trauma Sensitive Yoga?

An evidence-based practice designed to directly address symptoms associated with traumatic exposure, trauma sensitive yoga focuses on body awareness in the present moment. Based on the theoretical underpinnings of attachment theory, trauma theory, and neuroscience, TSY helps individuals in treatment recognize choices relating to the body and develop the ability to take effective action based on the knowledge of these choices.

The language used in treatment is invitational and emphasizes choice for the person in treatment. The experience is shared, and no physical assists are used.

Unlike traditional yoga, TSY always places emphasis on the internal experience of the individual, not on achieving proper form. The facilitator of the treatment will, while practicing with the individual, help them become accustomed to feeling their body in the present moment, whether by guiding them to feel the way their feet contact the ground or how a particular muscle contracts.

Through this guidance, people in treatment can learn what to do about the experience in real time by taking effective action. Everything about the practice is optional, gentle, and designed to help individuals befriend their bodies.

The practice of yoga, with its focus on the mind-body connection, offers both symptom reduction and opportunities for people practicing yoga to heal and grow. Yoga, known to benefit the mind as well as the body, has been proven beneficial for addressing stress, trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction recovery, and even personal growth.

Related: How Yoga And Mindful Eating Can Be Beneficial For You

Beyond yoga’s other benefits, research has found individuals who combined TSY with psychotherapy were more likely to experience a decrease in trauma-related symptoms and an increase in positive traits and emotions such as grace, compassion, relating with self and others, acceptance, centeredness, and empowerment.

If you are interested in incorporating yoga into your wellness practices, self-care routine, or mental health treatment but are unsure of where to start, consider bringing it up with your therapist or counsellor or primary care physician to see if this approach might benefit you.


References:

Buric, I., Farias, M., Jong, J., Mee, C., & Brazil, I. (2017, June 16). Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests. Frontiers in Immunology. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-06-meditation-yoga-reverse-dna-reactions.html

Emerson. D., Sharma, R., Chaudhry, S., & Turner, J. (2009). Trauma-sensitive yoga: Principles, practice, and research. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 19. Retrieved from http://www.traumacenter.org/products/..%5Cproducts%5Cpdf_files%5Cijyt_article_2009.pdf

Garfinkel, M. (2006). Yoga as a complementary therapy. Geriatrics and Aging, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/525187

Jackson, K. (2014, November 17). Trauma-sensitive yoga. Social Work Today, 14(6). Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/111714p8.shtml

MacMillan, A. (2017, June 16). Yoga and meditation can change your genes, study says. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4822302/yoga-meditation-genes-stress

McCall, T. (2008, June 20). Understanding the mind-body connection. Yoga Journal. Retrieved from https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/yoga-therapy-and-the-mind-body-connection-part-1

Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase the quality of life. International Journal of Yoga, 4(2). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654


Written by: Tahmi Perzichilli
Original appeared on: Good Therapy
Republished with permission.

Benefits Yoga Trauma Treatment pin
yoga therapy pin

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

Invisible Wounds: 10 Ways Unresolved Attachment Trauma Manifests in Adults

Possible Signs Of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

Your childhood trauma wounds can haunt you for the rest of your life. Unresolved attachment trauma in adults is more common than you think, however, knowing the signs of attachment trauma in adults can help you understand yourself more and take the necessary steps to heal.

Key Points

Childhood trauma often refers to traumas experienced in the family of origin during the formative years of our development. Although many traumas result from abuse or neglect, not all are. Some childhood traumas, such as emotional neglect, were not done purposefully. Some parents might not even have known.

<


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Coping with Dysfunction: Understanding the 10 Unspoken Rules of Dysfunctional Families

Hidden Dynamics Unspoken Rules of Dysfunctional Families

Have you ever noticed certain patterns in your family that have made you think, "Maybe my family is dysfunctional"? This post delves deep into the signs your family is dysfunctional and the unspoken rules of dysfunctional families. Let's find out more about how to tell if your family is dysfunctional or not.

Key Points

All families, as with all social systems, have some level of dysfunction. It does not mean they are all unhealthy or abusive, but some are. Growing up in unhealthy environments can set children up for unhealthy or unsafe relationships down the line. Developing and maintaining boundaries can help decrease trauma

READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

6 Stages Of Healing For Survivors Of Childhood Family Trauma

Childhood Family Trauma Stages Of Healing For Survivors

Experiencing childhood family trauma is without a doubt, one of the most painful things a human being can go through. However, overcoming family trauma and healing from family trauma is also possible.

KEY POINTS

Due to their history of normalizing unhealthy behaviors, trauma survivors often do not realize their families were dysfunctional. Unmet needs in childhood may manifest in adulthood as shame, causing many survivors to blame themselves for their trauma history. If we do not do the work of growth, these behavior patterns can continue long into adulthood. But healing is possible.

READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

The Impact of Family Trauma: 20 Common Personality Traits Among Survivors

Common Personality Traits Of Family Trauma Survivors

Experiencing childhood trauma and family trauma are two of the hardest things a person can go through. This post is all about childhood trauma in adults, the signs of family trauma, and some of the most common personality traits found in family trauma survivors.

In childhood, children lack the tools to understand when something bad or dysfunctional is happening, only that they have to endure the trauma.

As a result, they develop coping skills and mechanisms to deal with it, which leads to adult pathology. “Childhood experiences literally impact the biology of the brain.” (Perry, 2021). More therapists now are aware of the link between childhood trauma and adult personality traits.

<


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Healing Your Inner Child: A Path to Overcoming Trauma

Steps To Healing Your Inner Child And Trauma

Healing your inner child is a journey toward self-discovery and self-love. Acknowledge and nurture the emotional wounds of your past, with the steps below!

We all have an “inner child,” which is an unconscious archetype coined by Carl Jung. It holds our vulnerability, spontaneity, creativity, curiosity, and magical ideas. It also holds fears, anxiety, shame, loneliness, trauma, and insecurity experienced growing up.

Our inner child manifests through our beliefs and actions and can have a negative influence on our thoughts, feelings, interpersonal behavior, and choices as adults. To heal, we must develop a relationship with our wounded self.

Trauma and Our Inner Child

Trauma that happens in chil


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

10 Ways To Overcome Childhood Trauma: Grow Beyond Your Childhood Trauma And Reclaim Your Life

Ways To Overcome Childhood Trauma

Do you want to break old patterns and release those past versions of yours? You might need to overcome childhood trauma first.

Our childhood is supposed to be the purest, most magical, and happiest time of our lives, and yet, for so many of us, childhood memories only bring pain, shame, anger, and confusion. For it was when we had, for the first time, experienced trauma.

At a time when we were new to this world, blissfully unaware of its complexities, and our formative brains still grappling with concepts of love, care, safety, and nurturance, we came to know what it feels to be unloved, uncared for, unsafe, and unnurtured.

Read:


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

7 Signs You’ve Difficulty Accepting Love After Trauma

Signs Difficulty Accepting Love After Trauma

Accepting love after trauma is a feeling not a lot of people understand. You are often regarded as someone uptight and arrogant who is playing hard to get. But little do they know about the battle going on inside you where you are desperate to feel loved, but you are not being able to let go of your fear and trauma.

When you feel uncomfortable accepting love, it doesn't mean that you don't believe in it, it's just that you find it hard to believe that love is not supposed to hurt. Because of your traumatic experiences, you have come to associate love with pain, hurt and disappointment, and no matter how hard you try, you just can't bring yourself to see that real love is never supposed to hurt, it's supposed to make your heart feel full.

If you can relate to everything we spoke about till now, then let's know more about the signs you have a hard


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲