Yoga is so much more then poses, or movements. Yoga is a tool we have to help us with our lives, a way to move stagnation, and a way to help us connect to our unconscious mind.
How can yoga help with trauma?
We store emotional trauma in our bodies. Our actual tissues, muscles, and organs store all our emotions. For example, when we are happy the tissues in the body are filled up with blood and energy, to release that energy we laugh, we smile, we dance, we shake, we circulate the energy throughout our body and then out. However, when we experience trauma we do not always move the energy though the body. Trauma energy gets stuck in our tissues causing other health issues.
What type of health issues can arise from not moving trauma from the body?
Lower back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and shoulder tension are a few typical examples of the physical issues that can arise, and these issues can lead to other things. Migraines, and headaches are the top two most common issues that can arise. These two issues are usually caused by tension in the body that is stagnate. Chronic migraines can be linked to past trauma. Not moving this stagnant energy from the body causes issues and when we don’t know or do not recognize that we have these issues we often don’t know what to do.
What can one do if they suspect that they have trapped energy in the body?
Yoga is a great tool that anyone at any age, and physical ability can use to help move stagnant energy. When you do movements with intention, and linked to your breathing, you are making a conscious effort to move the energy from the area you’re working on. By linking your movements with breathing you are creating neural pathways in your brain. The brain will always take the easiest route when dealing with anything. If your thought-body pattern when you get stressed is to tense up your shoulders, you will ALWAYS tense up your shoulders UNLESS you teach your brain and your body to have a different response. Stagnate energy is the same. When we experience trauma the pathway that your mind creates a new pathway as a way to protect you. From then on, it will ALWAY choose that path. When we begin to heal the trauma and begin to correct a pathway, this starts to become our new response.
What classifies as trauma?
This one is different to everyone. There is no one single definition of what causes trauma. Trauma is unique to every individual. For some, extreme stress can cause trauma, for others it can be a change of lifestyle, or abuse, everyone experiences trauma differently. Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, and this is different to each of us based on our life experiences.
What are some tools within yoga that one can use to help identify an area of the body that might hold trauma and how can one work through it?
When moving your body, it is important to move with intention. This means to have your brain focus on the area of the body that we are working on. While you are focused on that area you should be taking mental inventory; how are the muscles in that area feeling, how much am I able to move in this position, do things feel tight, am I able to breath in this position, all of these questions can help you determine if this area is holding tension or stagnant energy or is this area clear.
If you find a spot that is extra tight, it is hard for you to breathe in that position, you really want to get out of it, this is a pretty good indication that you have stagnant energy or trauma stored here. To work through this is to practice breathing in that position, to do some inner work to discover what the trauma is, and work thought that emotionally. If you know what the trauma is from already you can begin to think about the trauma while in the position with your body and do the breath work to help you move energy stagnation out.
Yes, I cannot stress enough that being kind to yourself is so important. Our thoughts create our reality. If you have negative self-talk you will have negative experiences. If you have positive self-talk you will have a positive outlook. I am not saying that bad or negative things will not happen to you. I am saying that when they do it is important to find the positive in the situation as well. The rule is for every negative thought, action, or outcome you should think of, find, or embrace that many positives. We should be looking to operate our lives in neutrality, the state of neutrality, not overly happy all the time and not overly negative all the time, that state in the middle. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that we need to be happy all the time, this is just not realistic or achievable. We should be looking to be in balance, the yin and the yang.