If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I spent a significant portion of my earlier years experiencing debilitating anxiety and fear, most of which I couldn’t account for. The fear of having a panic attack often caused me so much fear that I would alter my day and not do the things that I really wanted and in many cases, needed to do. I receded from the things that made me happy such as being outdoors, spending time with friends, traveling, enjoying a nice meal somewhere new, etc., because I never knew when tremendous anxiety would make it difficult for me to breath and experience all the other symptoms of panic attacks that I came to know so well.
Unfortunately, anxiety ruled my life, and I couldn’t figure out where it was all coming from. I eventually sought help from trusted counselors and began to work through the thoughts and emotions that were the cause of the panic attacks I was struggling with. I eventually found healing and believe that you can too.
As I began to research panic, I found that many people who suffer do so as a result of trauma. They must work through these traumatic events before healing can take place. I’ve found that yoga and meditation can help. I wrote about the benefits of meditation here.
What is Trauma?
According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.”
Trauma can be also be caused domestic violence, a severe illness, or the death of a loved one. The thing they all have in common is that they all leave a lasting impact and interfere with the ability to live a normal life.
Traumatic memories aren’t stored in the brain where other memories are. During processing of the event itself, the brain does a sort of scramble dance and stores those memories in hidden places. That’s part of the reason that people experience “triggers” that make them re-experience those events, even if they don’t recognize the event as traumatic.
Yoga can beat trauma by treating anxiety
Yoga provides relief for all kinds of physical ailments and treats insomnia, hypertension, and general pain. More recently, yoga taught specifically for people who have experienced trauma has become increasingly popular.
The term trauma-sensitive yoga was popularized by David Emerson, founder of Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, MA, to describe the use of yoga as an adjunctive treatment within a clinical context.
The object of trauma-centered yoga is not to bring up the traumatic experiences themselves, but to help participants be more present. Yoga for Trauma makes participants more aware of their physical body. They learn to monitor the rate of their breathing, the tightness in the muscles they experience during a stretch, and the focus on the actual yoga pose itself. Staying in the moment with this type of yoga helps those who’ve deprived their body of feeling. They begin to learn to feel again while avoiding the anxious thoughts. Once we learn to feel in this way during yoga practice, it begins to feel more natural to tap into our emotions. In time, we are able to share more of our feelings freely both on and off the yoga mat.
Try incorporating yoga into your weekly routine. Here are some benefits you will experience:
- Decreased anxiety
- Powerful mindfulness
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Weight reduction
- Confidence boost
- Prevent cartilage and joint breakdown
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increased feelings of happiness
- Greater ability to focus
- Improves sleep quality
- Feelings of self-care
I hope this is helpful. If you’ve been feeling low lately, anxious, or stressed, visit this article by Yoga Journal to learn 7 Poses to Release Trauma.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
About the Author:
Steve Guarino is a certified integrative life coach, self-help author of Make Peace with Panic Naturally, and teacher of guided meditation. He is passionate about helping others find peace and happiness in spite of the life challenges they may be experiencing. Now that he is free from panic attacks, he enjoys spending time with family & friends, writing, traveling, and many other things that he struggled to do previously. Read more about Steve and his work here.