Processing Traumas with Yoga

In everybody’s life there may happen unexpected and severe events that we may be unable to process and that have an impact on our daily lives. Long-term symptoms can occur, which can last for years. This post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects everyone differently, with lasting effects on the nervous system. However, processing traumas is possible with the help of yoga. Let's see how…
Processing Traumas with Yoga

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress can appear relatively quickly in case of a one-time traumatizing event, but they most commonly appear around half a year later. Yet they also can develop slowly over time in case of a long-term traumatic experience.

Negative symptoms include anxiety or – the opposite – a heightened state, persistent bad mood, depression, fatigue, helplessness, self-blame and anger. Common symptoms of post-traumatic stress include also sleep disturbances, accompanied by recurring bad dreams, and unexpected negative memories. This is due to increased levels of stress hormones and adrenaline in the blood. Now, how is it possible to process traumas through yoga?


How Yoga Helps You Process Traumas

We hold traumas not only in our mind, but subconsciously also in our bodies, which can manifest as migraines, tense muscles or even heart problems. The practice of yoga asanas, their combination of physical exercise and controlled breath, helps center the awareness and reconnect mind and body. During yoga practice participants are repeatedly encouraged to consciously feel the different sensations happening in their bodies. More and more studies confirm that this can help significantly to manage post-traumatic stress or even help survivors to completely overcome their PTSD.


Practice Yogic Breathing Techniques 

Also breathing techniques, called pranayama in yogic terms, can have a strong impact on PTSD.

Unintentional functions such as our heartbeat and breathing are controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Because we are unable to consciously control these, medicine assumes a disorder of the autonomic nervous system in the background of the disturbing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. That is where pranayama comes in.

According to a study published in 2014, the breathing technique of the so-called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, which is based on the old tradition of pranayama, can provide effective therapeutic help to the sensitive nervous system. Pranayama is one of the most effective stress relieving and wellness methods. The specific breathing rhythms and variations can help to manage stress, depression and anger, and to maintain peace of mind. As deep, conscious breathing contributes to the balance of the autonomic nervous system, the body’s anxiety respons to stress is reduced.

During the practice of breathing techniques, the attention is focused on the process of breathing through the whole body, thus having a wholesome and calming effect on the autonomic nervous system. The following simple exercise is recommended for all that suffer from stress. It is recommended to do the exercise six times a day in fresh air.

  1. After inhalation, the air is expelled rapidly through the mouth and nose.
  2. This is followed by a slow inhalation through the nose as we count to 12.
  3. Keep the air inside for 6 counts.
  4. Exhale in 6 counts.
  5. Repeat several times.

This is just one example of the many pranayama techniques, of which some are relaxing and some energizing, but all of them are stress relieving. Practiced daily they can have a significant effect on your anxiety, depression and can even have a positive effect on your physical health. On top of that, they are easy to implement in your daily life and you don’t need any specific equipment, just add them at the end or at the beginning of your yoga practice.

If you need some help in integrating a regular yoga and pranayama practice into your life, check out some of the best yoga studios in Budapest, where you will find all the support you need.

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