As a mental health professional you probably know that your body holds immense power to help you heal from traumatic experiences. Yet, how do you explain this to your clients who come in for CBT? Taking a yoga training for mental health therapists can be a critical part of helping your clients heal from trauma, and explaining why you're addressing how to move their body can be complicated. In this blog I'll take a simple approach to explaining yoga in combination with psychotherapy. Feel free to print this out or share this link with your clients.
Trauma can leave us feeling overwhelmed and disconnected, but there are practical steps we can take to tap into our body's innate ability for healing. In this blog post, I will explore the transformative potential of yoga as a top method for resolving trauma. I'll also delve into how breath, movement, and mindfulness can be powerful tools in our trauma resolution journey.
1. Understanding Trauma:
Trauma can result from various distressing events such as accidents, natural disasters, bullying, or witnessing violence. It affects our emotional and physical well-being, leaving us feeling trapped and anxious. Recognizing the impact of trauma on our bodies and minds is crucial for our healing process. The memories are often lodged in our body, rather than in our mind.
Trauma comes back as a reaction, not a memory - Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk.
2. The Transformative Power of Yoga:
Yoga is an ancient practice that combines physical postures, controlled breathing, and mindfulness. It is renowned for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it an excellent tool for trauma resolution. In addition, due to it's non verbal approach, if you're working with a trained professional offering trauma sensitive yoga you may be able to release the stored trauma without having to revisit the actual event.
Yoga can help you release built-up emotions, stress and tension. ~ The Cleveland Clinic
3. Step-by-Step Approach for Working With Your Body Towards Trauma Resolution:
Step 1: Creating a Safe Space:
Choose a peaceful and comfortable space where you can practice yoga without distractions. Make it your personal sanctuary where you feel secure and at ease.
Step 2: Calming Breathwork:
Start by focusing on your breath. Take intentional, deep breaths in through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale gently through your mouth. Feel the rhythm of your breath, and let it calm your nervous system, promoting relaxation.
Step 3: Gentle Movement:
Engage in gentle movements to release tension and reconnect with your body in any way that feels right to you. You can try shoulder rolls, neck stretches, or gentle twists. Let your body guide you, moving at a pace that feels comfortable and soothing.
Step 4: Yoga Poses for Trauma Resolution:
Practice grounding poses that promote stability, strength, and balance. Examples include Tree Pose (Vrikshasana), Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana), and Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). You can also try Child's Pose (Balasana), Mountain Pose (Tadasana), and Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana 1,2 or 3). Remember to focus on your breath while doing these poses, allowing yourself to release tension with each exhale.
Step 5: Mindfulness and Meditation:
Conclude your yoga practice with a few minutes of mindfulness or meditation*. Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes if you want to, and bring your attention to the present moment. Notice any thoughts or sensations without judgment, and let them pass through your awareness. This practice cultivates self-awareness and resilience. *PLEASE NOTE: Research shows some forms of meditation are contraindicated for certain types of trauma and can actually make a person's body become frozen. We detail this in our training.
Additional Tools for Trauma Resolution:
In addition to yoga, here are other practices that complement trauma resolution:
- Journaling: Write down your thoughts and emotions in a journal. It can serve as a safe outlet for processing your experiences and promoting self-reflection.
- Supportive Relationships: Seek support from trusted friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your feelings and experiences in a safe environment can provide comfort and validation. Considering asking them if they have the time / space to listen before diving in.
- Engaging in Hobbies: Participate in activities that bring you joy and allow you to express yourself creatively. Painting, gardening, playing a musical instrument, or dancing can help release emotions and promote healing.
Healing from trauma is a unique journey that requires patience, self-care, and compassion. By embracing the power of yoga, breathwork, movement, and mindfulness, you can tap into your body's incredible ability to resolve trauma. Remember to be gentle with yourself and honor your progress. As you remember your body is a trauma resolution toolkit, you can incorporate these practices into your life, allow your body to guide you towards healing and growth. Embrace the transformative potential of yoga and the various tools available to you on your path to resolution.
Thanks as always for the thoughts and comments. May Your Path Be Your Purpose™ ~ Corena Hammer