For most of the uninitiated, yoga still belongs to the land of human pretzels and tie dyed, aging hippies. We’ve even come up with an Americanized version of this ancient and varied school of body movement, which involves some grueling combination of power and heat. Yet yoga is also one of the most commonly used and effective forms of support for those of my clients recovering from trauma.
Yoga, from the Sanskrit meaning “to join, unite, or attach,” (and hopefully you know the importance of attachment to trauma; if not, click here), invites us to enter our bodies gradually, allowing energy that has become stuck to begin flowing once more. It is even good preparation for entering a deeper meditative state, and the two together are profoundly therapeutic in becoming more mindful, and more present.
I am fortunate to have among my colleagues and supervisees several who use yoga specifically suited to those with anxiety and depression. Yin, or Restorative, Yoga is designed to bring the body into and out of comforting poses slowly, allowing plenty of time in those poses for the autonomic nervous system to switch from fight/flight to rest/digest. Andrea Silver, who teaches at Whole Yoga on 17th as well as maintaining a practice as a licensed therapist and supervisor, says this about her work: “Yin yoga teaches us about patient stillness. By holding poses for from one to five minutes we stretch the joints, ligaments, and facia rather than more yang yoga which stretches the muscles. We give our bodies the message that we will slow down and breathe deeply and allow whatever arises to arise. Holding ourselves in awareness and acceptance with patient stillness, we can make room for trauma we are holding in our bodies and the accompanying emotions to be experienced and released.”
Here is an example of what yoga can look like:
Jenna Keller, who maintains a practice at People House, provides a workshop specifically designed for those struggling with anxiety and depression. While she won’t be giving her workshop again this year, email her if you’re interested in her January class. Please note that I encourage you, should you be healing from significant trauma, to use only yoga therapists who are specifically trained in trauma, as these women are.
Trauma takes us away from our bodies, and turns us into their harshest judges. The path towards healing and away from this dissociation must therefore reunite us with our physical selves. Yoga, in its more gentle, restorative forms is easily available throughout most of the Denver area; I would strongly encourage you to try it.
To read the core article, click here