Yoga for Healing Trauma

There are many of us therapist types out there that are also certified yoga instructors.  For me, these roles inform and enhance one another so beautifully.  Because I work with trauma and with the brave and beautiful people who have unresolved wounds from their past, yoga can be such a powerful process for healing.

Yoga can help stimulate the vegus nerve, which is essential for emotion regulation and feeling connection.  Yoga can also help to integrate traumatic memories in the brain, stimulate the frontal lobes of the brain and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of relaxation, digestion and regulating fear and other emotions. I find that people who practice yoga tend to process trauma, especially with the EMDR protocol much more quickly.

Here are a few poses that I particularly love for trauma healing:

Warrior II:  This is such an empowered pose.  Sometimes, I love to bring my hands together and then pull back an arrow and pretend to shoot it like a strong, proud warrior.  Healing from trauma requires us to tap into our warrior selves.  Feel the strength of your legs and the grounding force of this pose coming up through the feet, through the legs, through your core and then shooting out through your finger tips.  I like to have a very strong “Don’t Fuck With Me” gaze over my front fingers.  If you need a little dose of empowerment- this is your pose!

Goddess: Well first of all, the name is awesome.  Even if you are a man who has trauma in your background, tapping into your own goddess energy is good for you.  This is a pose that really stimulates the root Chakra, which is associated with safety.  Trauma makes us feel that we are unsafe ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t matter if we know logically that we are safe now, the sympathetic nervous system, which is the nervous system associated with fight or flight is on over drive.  It is on survival mode when you have a trauma-organized nervous system. Stimulating and bringing lots of attention to your tailbone will help to make you feel grounded in your body without having to talk yourself into anything.  While in goddess pose, feel your feet rooting you into the earth and imagine a root growing from the tailbone into the ground.

Fish with lion’s breath:  The fish pose is a throat opening pose.  Our throat chakra is associated with speaking our truth and using our voice.  This is often blocked if we have trauma in our past. Perhaps a person felt that they couldn’t say anything about abuse or they would be hurt worse, perhaps they felt that if they used their voice, they would not be believed or perhaps there was an assault on the mouth or throat area.  Getting into fish pose and then adding a lion’s breath is a powerful way to open up the throat and give you confidence to speak your truth.  Feel the light of truth healing your throat.  As you stick out your tongue for lion’s breath, feel the release of anything you have been holding and let it go. Sometimes the truth ain’t pretty, but it is always beautiful.

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