Health and Beauty
Anette Shine - 5 ways yoga can heal trauma
By Anette Shine - Yoga and Fitness Expert
5 WAYS TO HELP HEALING TRAUMA WITH YOGA - "Making the body feel safe."
What is trauma? It’s an experience that overwhelms your capacity to cope. People feel helpless, overwhelmed, scared, horrified. At the core of trauma is horror. Not every recovery program fits all. One needs to find a way where ones' body feels like “I am in control of myself again” Some people, who in addition to trauma also deal with anger, need to move actively: practising dynamic yoga, go for a run, lift weights, etc
Many find restorative yoga most soothing, so this month we shall focus on healing trauma through calming yoga. The condition PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder - is a process to be faced, not suppressed or simply adjusted to. Why? Because trauma does not only affect the mind, but is stored in the physical body and can create life-long effects if not dealt with. The body remembers EVERYTHING, ever since it was conceived in the mothers womb. So healing trauma is all about making the body feel safe.
Apart from yoga, I highly recommend any kind of “body work” i.e. massages, facials, or "energy-treatments” as well as lots of sleep to restore the central nervous system.
When one is traumatised, ones breathing changes and becomes more shallow, so my first advice is to practice breathing (pranayama) Try NADI SHODANA - alternating nostril breathing: Close your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale profoundly through your left, then close both nostrils as you hold your breath for a little while (using the right thumb and right ring finger) then open your right nostril and exhale slowly here. Now inhale profoundly through your right nostril and close both "on top of the wave" as you hold your breath as long as it’s comfortable before you exhale though the left. This is one cycle. Repeat for as long as you wish. Always finish by exhaling through the left nostril and pause as you breathe through both, observing the changes that have taken place.
Viparita Karani - Inverted lake pose
Sit yourself close to a wall or pillar, and bring the buttocks in contact with it, so your legs are vertical. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your solar plexus for "self-healing" as you close your eyes and breathe deeply for up to 10 minutes. You can also cover your eyes with an eye-bag or towel to enhance the restoration depending on the severeness and intensity of your trauma.
Supported fish pose to open the heart chakra and feel safe again: Place a block/book/bolster/pillow (or two) under your upper back so you feel your chest (heart) opening. Make sure your head is in contact with the floor and the "neck is long” by keeping the chin down. Relax your belly and place your legs in a position that feels comfortable and breathe consciously "through your heart” opening up to safety and trust.
BALASANA = Childs pose
Come down on your knees and sit back so your buttocks come as close to your heals as possible. Lean forward down to the floor, bringing your forehead in contact with Mother Earth. Being close to the earth brings safety and support. Relax your arms by your side and breathe against your thighs as you gently massage your internal organs. Child pose is the favourite yoga posture of many traumatised people.
Supported bridge pose. Use a block or thick book and place it under your sacrum in order to bring yourself into a mild inversion which will help heal your heart and internal organs. Breathe deeply here, through the nose, for 5-7 minutes. You can mentally repeat the following affirmations: “I inhale healing, I exhale trauma” ….”I inhale safety, and exhale anxiety” ….”I inhale faith, and exhale fear” “I inhale peace, and exhale depression”
This article is written in loving memory of my faithful yoga student Fatima who suddenly, unexpectedly lost her physical body on July 14th in Nice. May your soul rest in peace now, and may everyone who is traumatised in any way recover and heal. Om Shanti.
With profound love & healing to everyone.