Monday, June 19, 2017

Healing Trauma Through Yoga

Healing Trauma Through Yoga


Trauma lives in the body as much as it does the mind. Physical triggers can start off a series of traumatic response mechanism due to physical abuse and physical experiences of trauma. Additionally, trauma is thought to live in the body because it does not complete the cycle of experience. In the brain’s effort to stop the pain of traumatic reality, it shuts the experience down. Somatic experiencing therapy believes that the energy of the trauma is then trapped in the body and can only be healed once released. Yoga, as an eastern tradition, works with the notion that energy is indeed stored in the body, with emotional energy stored in specific areas like the hips and the spine. By focusing on the breath, stretching the muscles, and working with a flow of energy, those in recovery from trauma are able to release the energy. An article on NPR titled “The Role Of Yoga In Healing Trauma” explains, “since the effects of trauma can be physical, ‘body-mind’ interventions, like yoga, may be able to uniquely address them.”

The healing mechanisms of yoga go deeper than simple breathing and stretching exercises. “Regulated breathing, for example, calms the parasympathetic nervous system. Practicing staying in the moment counteracts some of the dissociative effects of trauma. And the physical activity of yoga, of course, can directly improve health.”

Trauma-Informed Yoga

For those who have not been psychologically affected by trauma, there is seemingly little to be described as traumatic about a yoga class. Being touched to modify a position, certain language choices about the body, and other narratives about “letting go” or thinking about the past can be painfully triggering by those in recovery from trauma. Trauma informed yoga includes:
  • A standard rule that participants must first be asked if they want to be touched
  • Quiet music and gentle use of the voice
  • Removal of any triggering language or narrative

Benefits Of Yoga For Trauma Recovery

The benefits of yoga for mental and physical health have been widely studied as well as proven. Yoga has been shown to increase heart health, reduce stress, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and reduce the effects of cravings for drugs and alcohol. Specifically, the article cites, yoga for trauma recovery leads to:
  • Decrease in complaints of physical aches, pains, and discomforts
  • Less of a need or desire for medications
  • Better self-esteem
  • Development of stress management skills


Yoga is part of the integrative approach to healing at Cottonwood Tucson. Our clinical programs for trauma treatment have been proven for over 20 years. Providing an environment of safety and understanding, our inpatient treatment programs offer hope for recovery. For information on our programs for trauma and co-occurring disorders, call us today by dialing (800) 877-4520.

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