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Trauma changes our brain chemistry and can often send us spiraling down into a pit of negative thinking patterns which build neural pathways in our mind that increase negative thinking, until all we can see is darkness.
Practicing gratitude is one way to help re-wire our brain, to heal and begin to see the light of positive thinking. To build new neural pathways in our brain. Practicing gratitude is not about putting on rose colored glasses and pretending there is nothing wrong in the world, it's not about ignoring adversity. Practicing gratitude is about taking our dark colored glasses off so we can see both the positive and negative in the world with clear vision, with balance. Some people refer to it as finding the silver lining in a cloud. When we can see what we gain from a adversity and difficult circumstances, instead of only focusing on the negative, we build ourselves stronger to overcome adversity, rather than allowing it to crush us. This is why practicing gratitude can be a very healthy way to begin to heal from our traumatic experiences, to overcome. Join me for class and let's work on this together!
Welcome to Three In One Yoga
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"Trauma creates change you don't choose. Healing is about creating change we do choose."
A trauma doesn't simply impact our emotions, it can damage the brain and actually change the chemistry and structure of the brain.
The severity of impact can be very minor or it can be dramatic. The severity often depends on the traumatic event and the individual. It sometimes can change one's personality and can damage our perception of our self and others. Just like an injury, healing takes times and effort. Yoga has been shown to be an effective tool to aid in healing.
Themes developed for my classes work with some of the areas of self-perception and perception of others that can be influenced by a traumatic event. Several of the themes chosen coincide with the Chakra hierarchical system of human needs. These yoga classes are designed to allow an individual to work on some of the traumatic symptoms in a mild, less intense manner than therapy. These yoga classes encourage students to explore what is happening inside themselves at a pace that each individual student feels they can tolerate and has the freedom to chose when they need to stop or alter their practice when they need to.
Root Chakra: Inner strength, stability and developing personal safety.
Sacral Chakra: Personal value/worth, deserving satisfaction.
Solar Plexus Chakra: Self-Image, empowerment, personal skills.
Heart Chakra :Connection with others and sense of community.
Throat Chakra: Finding your voice, communication and self-expression.
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Yoga unites the mind, body, and soul in a way that eases tension and promotes health. Regular practice improves breathing , increases endurance for other activities, and promotes mindfulness. Take a break from your day. Focus on yourself and find clarity.
"Many survivors hold their breath and bodies tightly, bracing for what comes next. It is important we create a space where we can take our armor off."
- Dr. Thema
Trauma and Yoga
"After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservations seems to go into permanent alert. As if the danger might return at any moment."
Yoga can help you understand and tolerate sensations you are feeling within so you no longer feel like a stranger in your own body. It can help you regain ownership of your body."
Trauma and Its Affects
Trauma is an emotional or physical response to one or more harmful events or circumstances with lasting adverse effects on your mental and physical well being.
Trauma can cause individual to experience a disconnect between mind and body, which can be exhibited as unpredictable bodily reactions that are disconnected from conscious thought. Trauma can cause a seemingly random onset of increased heart rate, shallow rapid breathing, uncontrolled sweating, physical pain or even numbness in body parts. In addition, there are several mental side effects like intrusive thoughts and memories. The mind can go into overdrive and get stuck there, causing one to feel constantly on guard and unable to relax. Trauma Sufferers often don't feel like themselves or safe.
How Can Yoga Help?
Mind-body practices like yoga can provide a safe, gentle path to exploring what's going on in the mind and body. Once tapping into what's going on, an individual can then work on releasing built-up emotions, stress, and tension. The following is a short list of the various ways yoga helps with trauma:
Yoga can ease PTSD symptoms by helping individuals achieve stabilization of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), balance between the "fight/flight" response. (This is where a mind suffering from trauma often gets stuck in a Sympathetic Nervous System hypervigilant "fight or flight" mode.
Yoga, through body awareness, helps people build skills in tolerating & modulating physiologic and affective states that have become dysregulated by trauma exposure.
Yoga can help people return to a baseline physiological state more quickly after distressing memory is triggered. In other words, students learn techniques to bring the mind and body's responses to a trigger back to normal, responses such as the sudden onset of heart racing and sweating caused by being triggered.
Yoga helps people better learn to cope with the defensive responses that proceed re-experiencing, as traumatic memories (or other triggers) arise in the internal and external environment of nonreactive mindful awareness.
Yoga meditation practices-particularly guided meditations-teach an individual how to quiet the mind, focus on the present and experience sensations at a gentle, safe pace determine by the student.
Breathwork practices, in yoga, can help individuals change the way they feel. Breathwork can be used to help calm someone who is feeling anxious or energize someone who is in a depressed or collapsed state (stuck in the parasympathetic nervous system or "rest and digest" state.
Yoga helps alleviate traumatic stress symptoms. Areas of the brain involving self-awareness, which get locked out by trauma, are re-activated by doing yoga. These areas are needed to heal the mind-body connection.
How is Trauma Informed Yoga Different than Standard Classes?
Trauma Informed Yoga's Purpose
Most standard yoga classes (and other mind-body practices) are insensitive to trauma triggers and can sometimes be harmful for those who have endured trauma.
Trauma Informed Yoga's purpose is to help individuals develop self-awareness. It's not designed to take an individual back to the source of their pain. Trauma Informed Teaching means instructors assume that all their students have some kind of trauma and teach in a way that offers a space for healing, rather than triggering trauma. While everyone is triggered by something different, it is impossible to avoid all possible triggers, however Trauma Informed Yoga (TIY) creates a safe space for people to pay attention to signs of dissociation and distress that may come up and to stop whenever they need.
TIY does not place its focus on poses, but instead focuses more on embodiment (being within your body) within a pose. Establishing presence and finding a sense of grounding can help students connect to their mind and body in a way that feels secure. As students are guided through a supportive experience, students may observe sensations and emotions that arise without feeling triggered or overwhelmed.
Yoga and Therapy
"PTSD and Trauma symptoms often get worse if you choose to do nothing and ignore it. Just like an open would will get infected and cause more damage if left untreated."
Yoga Alone Cannot Heal Trauma
It is important to know that Yoga alone cannot heal trauma but that yoga provides a powerful ally on the path to healing. Yoga allows those suffering from trauma to create tools for self-care, growth and healing.
Yoga can be a valuable instrument to help people engage with counselling and psychotherapy in a more productive manner.
When an individual experiences trauma, pathways in the brain become disconnected. This is why some people going to therapy, literally cannot find the words to talk about it. These pathways have to be reconnected before an individual can start verbally working through the trauma. Yoga can help rebuild these connections, helping an individual to communicate with their therapist better.
Note that EMDR therapy is particularly helpful to integrate traumatic memories by shifting some areas of the brain involved in memory processing. Thereby diminishing many traumatic triggers and other symptoms. EMDR is particularly helpful for PTSD symptoms since avoidance is a primary issue with those suffering from PTSD. A memory must be processed before the mind can become "unstuck" and begin to heal and move forward.
"Neuroscience research shows that the only way we can change the way we feel is by becoming aware of our inner experience and learning to befriend what is going on inside ourselves." -Bessel A. Van Der Kolh