Ever feel like talk therapy isn’t doing the trick? You’re not alone. Many people supplement their traditional treatment with trauma-sensitive yoga to heal both the body and the mind.

What is trauma-sensitive yoga?

Trauma-sensitive yoga combines two growing trends to help in addiction recovery. In order to understand what trauma is, we’ll first look at trauma, trauma-sensitive practices and how trauma-sensitive principles are applied to yoga instruction.

Trauma: According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is the body and mind’s response to a dangerous or terrible event. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network identifies several events that produce trauma, such as bullying, community violence, abuse, natural disasters, refugee experiences and accidents.

Trauma can happen to both children and adults, but each process and copes with the event and after effects differently. A traumatic event could impact someone for a lifetime, and thus, trauma-informed practices are important in every sphere of life.

Trauma-informed practices: Trauma-informed, according to the Buffalo Center for Social Research, is any type of care that takes into consideration the pervasive essence of traumatic events in a person’s life and makes an effort to avoid re-traumatizing. These services aim to provide a space for healing and processing in a safe environment.

The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Research Center states that this approach is geared towards healing in order to provide effective healthcare. A holistic lens that takes someone’s past into account, gives a better foundation for a treatment and serves a person with greater dignity.

Trauma-sensitive yoga: Trauma-sensitive yoga, as stated by the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, is a method of healing from traumatic events as an adjunct treatment best combined with therapy. Because the whole body is impacted by trauma, the whole body engages in recovery with yoga.

Trauma-sensitive yoga incorporates guided meditations with movements and postures aimed at self-reflection, healing and self-soothing. A person may encounter memories or thoughts of trauma during a yoga session and is encouraged to breathe and relax despite physical and mental sensations of stress. These exercises are designed to lessen the anxiety and distress that normally accompanies the pervasive nature of trauma.

How can yoga help recovery?

Trauma-sensitive yoga is generally used in the treatment of patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD interferes with a person’s ability to regulate emotions and cope with difficult situations. PTSD prevents a person from normal daily functioning.

The goal of trauma-sensitive yoga is to help individuals learn skills to self-regulate using both the body and the mind. While the traditional method of trauma treatment only includes talk therapy, trauma-sensitive yoga incorporates the body in the healing process. Moreover, many individuals prefer natural methods of treatment before resorting to medication to treat mental health conditions.

Trauma-sensitive yoga provides a safe space for recovery. It also emphasizes trust and peers support in yoga sessions. When individuals participate in this mode of treatment, they’ll feel empowered to address their trauma and initiate other health lifestyle practices.

John Hopkins Medicine shares several additional benefits of yoga, including improved sleep, decreased back pain, increased energy and enhanced heart health. Yoga also promotes a strong mind-body connection, so these bodily benefits are good news for the mind, too.

The science behind trauma-sensitive yoga

Recent research has backed up this new treatment modality. The International Journal of Stress Management states that yoga practices alternate poses, increasing and decreasing heart rate, resulting in improved relaxation. Another study published in General Hospital Psychiatry found that mindfulness practices (like trauma-sensitive yoga) improved overall quality of life.

In fact, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy states that a pilot study on trauma-sensitive yoga found participants to have decreased symptoms of PTSD, increased body attunement, better physical vitality and lower severity of a hyperarousal state.

Keeping up with the treatment

Although trauma-sensitive yoga has shown to have positive effects for participants, therapy is still the most evidence-based and effective treatment available for mental health and substance use concerns. 

Continuing your therapy or counseling services is essential to overall healing, so keep up with your appointments while you partake in trauma-sensitive yoga. Besides, your mental health practitioner will be happy to hear you’re taking steps outside therapy to invest in your wellbeing.

At Silver Ridge Recovery trauma-sensitive yoga is part of a holistic treatment plan to help you find freedom and healing from substance use. Services at Silver Ridge are designed to promote recovery for your body and spirit so you can stay away from drugs and alcohol long-term. Call today to learn more at 855-945-7788.