How Yoga Can Help You Recover From Emotional Trauma
There are countless reasons that yoga can be a good practice for us – everything from self-care to fitness to flexibility. But one of the most important benefits of yoga is how it can help you heal from trauma, both physical and emotional. So, why is yoga healing? Here’s a rundown of how yoga can help you recover from emotional trauma.
Can you use yoga for healing emotional trauma?
There’s a wide variety of types of emotional trauma, ranging from the death of a loved to physical or sexual abuse and countless others. No matter the severity of their trauma, a person can struggle with intense symptoms including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
If you’re wondering, “Can yoga help with PTSD?” the answer is yes! In fact, in a recent study, trauma-informed yoga led to a significant reduction (over 30%) of symptoms of PTSD, including fewer intrusive thoughts and less dissociation. At the end of 10 weeks, several women in the study no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. With a focus on calming the brain and the body, yoga can be beneficial to people struggling with their emotional health.
How does yoga help heal trauma?
In addition to seeking help from a mental health professional, you can practice yoga to improve symptoms related to your trauma. Yoga can help you:
Learn how to calm the mind and body
When you experience emotional trauma, it can become difficult to quiet your mind and relax your body. It often doesn’t matter if a traumatic event happened 20 years ago or yesterday morning; your body can still be in a state of fight or flight.
Yoga creates an outlet for you to slow things down and focus on an activity that’s relaxing and safe. With practice, you can learn to focus on the poses and your intentions instead of being sidetracked with random or intrusive thoughts. Knowing how to calm your mind and body can help you return to a state of peace and balance.
Become better at regulating emotions
If you’ve had some trauma in your past, you might find that your emotions are all over the place (sad one moment, angry the next, etc.). It can also feel like your window of tolerance is super small.
Yoga can help by showing you that you’re capable of slowing things down and meditating in a calming way. In the future, you could become better at noticing when things are starting to become out of control, so that you can reel things in without going to 11. Keeping your emotions in check can become a lot easier if you’re able to center and ground yourself.
Better tolerate physical sensations
With many types of trauma, a person becomes disconnected from or uncomfortable with their body. Exercise in general can become more triggering than helpful. However, with yoga, you can get more in tune with yourself in a slow, intentional way. You can learn to listen to your body in a way that feels safe, becoming more connected to your body and its needs through your yoga practice.
Decrease stress levels
Stress takes over all of our lives from time to time, but it can be even more difficult to manage when you’re also dealing with emotional trauma. It’s crucial to have an outlet for stress, and yoga is an ideal practice for this. By combining deep breathing and meditation, many forms of yoga can work as a de-stressor.
Practice mindfulness and deep breathing
Creating opportunities to be mindful can be super valuable for someone who suffers from anxiety or PTSD. Yoga has mindfulness built in – along with deep breathing, it’s a way for people to become more in tune with themselves (as well as the world around them). Studies have shown that mindfulness can be great in combating intrusive thoughts and feelings.
Promote connection with other people
While yoga can be a solitary activity, it can also be helpful to take classes in a group setting so that you’re surrounding yourself with supportive people. Many individuals with emotional trauma in their past find it difficult to connect with others and tend to isolate. A yoga class is a great way to meet new people and broaden your social horizons.
Create a bond with a higher power
Even if you’re not religious, or even spiritual, yoga can allow you to create a connection with a higher power of some sort. Even if you’re sending or receiving vibes from the universe at large, you still might be able to feel like a part of something that can help with feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Yoga can do so many wonderful things for your physical body (better balance, flexibility, stamina, etc.), but it can also help your emotional self as well. Your best option is to tackle your trauma with an open heart and mind. Allow yoga to become a healing outlet that permits you to reconnect with your body and your spirit.
Recovery from emotional trauma is definitely possible. If you haven’t started a yoga practice yet, begin with some gentle, restorative yoga to help create a practice that fits your needs. Yoga is a wonderful, holistic approach to healing that allows you to feel in control and safe. And unlike medication, it doesn’t come with any side effects – other than getting more fit!