Updated: Sep 18
As a survivor of childhood trauma and PTSD, I focused my approach to healing on going to see a therapist once a week and reading all of the self-help books I could get my hands on. The problem with healing trauma (one of many) is that it cannot just be understood in your brain; it must be grieved and reprocessed in your body.
Before I decided to apply for a master's in counseling, I was an early 20-something year old wanting to understand why I felt my trauma had still not "gone" away. I had talked about it with my therapist, cried and screamed about it, journaled about it, watched TED talks about it, and still no budging. This is the part of the story where my therapist introduced me to EMDR, and I was amazed and decided to become a therapist because the technique was so powerful for me. However, that’s a story for another blog post! I could process, understand, and even validate how much my trauma had impacted my development. But still, I felt as if my physical body would resist embracing these newfound healed ways of looking at myself, the world, and those who were a part of my story.
This began to change for me when I began attending yoga at a local studio to finally commit to a physical self-care practice. I went from loving the first yoga class I had ever taken in a studio to becoming an unlimited member and then finally taking my yoga teacher training at the same studio two years later. All of these stages of my developing yoga practice were crucial to me reconnecting with my body through the practice of yoga and its poses. More importantly, body cues when outside of the studio became easier for me to notice and feel. I felt more aware of my body and its voice.
On days when I felt sad or stressed, I could tune into breath and body awareness and the connection between the sensations in my body and the emotion attached to them. When I felt my energy was off between clients or I occasionally felt triggered after a session, I went into child’s pose or downward facing dog to become more grounded. It became very intuitive for me to involve my body when coping, soothing, or nurturing when discomfort would present itself. When worried about my mid-to-late 20s body changing, I began to set an intention of gratitude during a yoga class for the way my body helps me laugh, walk, stretch, relax, and eat yummy food to sustain my life.
Yoga quickly became a beautiful and unique coping skill I never intended to instill. Even after years of talk therapy, EMDR, learning how to provide talk therapy, and even becoming trained in EMDR, yoga seemingly processed the stuck layer of unprocessed trauma out of my body. You don’t have to take my word for it either; the amount of research providing results after results of yoga or a similar mind-body practice aiding in healing trauma exists. I will leave those at the bottom if you are curious.
This is why I offer personalized trauma-informed yoga sessions for new and existing clients. I have personally felt the healing impact of utilizing yoga in my healing journey. It has not only helped me heal, but it also helps me sustain my healing as life continues to move and evolve. I am forever grateful.
A Rapid Review Exploring the Role of Yoga in Healing Psychological Trauma