Trauma-sensitive Yoga

The practice of yoga has a history spanning thousands of years as a strategy to reduce stress and promote well-being. Well known for improving symptoms of trauma in the civilian population, promising research has now shown yoga’s ability in improving symptoms of insomnia, depression, and anxiety in current serving military and veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (1-5)

Trauma affects the entire human organism – body, mind and brain.

– Bessel Van Der Kolk

How Might Trauma Negatively Impact You?

A traumatic event is an uncontrollable, life-threatening, or overwhelming experience that can happen to anyone and at any age. Witnessing someone being killed or injured, surviving a life-threatening event and domestic violence are just some of the traumatic experiences that can impact multiple areas of our physical and mental health.

Physical and psychological symptoms range from gut disorders, emotional disorders, loss of a sense of self, memory problems, dissociation, hopelessness, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

If someone is feeling distressed, disconnected, or isolated after experiencing an event, they may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

People with PTS may experience what is known as ‘sympathetic activation‘, this is where the stress response is heightened and essentially becomes stuck, unable to return to normal after the threat is over. 

Bodily symptoms of PTS:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Memory loss
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Slow digestive functioning, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased blood circulation

Trauma Sensitive Yoga

emphasises safety, empowers

choice, and shares tools for resilience and self-regulation


How can Yoga & Meditation Help?

Yoga helps not only improve flexibility, strength, and balance but by focusing on the body’s position and breathing, it increases self-awareness, imperative to emotion regulation.

Yoga can be especially beneficial to veterans, serving members, and first responders with PTS by activating the “parasympathetic nervous system” helping to dial down hyperarousal symptoms.

Research has shown that the practice of yoga can improve cognitive performance and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, restoring balance in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.6

You can see how yoga changes the brain here.

Can Anyone Take This Class?

Jodi provides safe and professional guidance, in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. No yoga experience is necessary and sessions are adapted and accessible to all fitness levels and abilities, including those with a disability, illness, pain, and injury.

Jodi’s sessions have proved successful in the military, veteran, and first responder environment where members experience significant psychological and physical stress due to the nature of their service. Physical forms, breathing exercises, and meditation help bring the mind and body together.

Serving members and Veterans who are members of Mates4Mates can access weekly free yoga classes with Jodi, both online and face to face, at the Family Recovery Centre in Milton, Brisbane Australia. To become a member find out more HERE

Like to know more? If you would like to learn more about yoga classes, send an email to Jodi or click on the button below to fill out a contact form:


References:

  1. Cushing, R. E., Braun, K. L., Alden C-Iayt, S. W., & Katz, A. R. (2018). Military-Tailored Yoga for Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Military medicine183(5-6), e223–e231. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usx071
  2. Hurst, S., Maiya, M., Casteel, D., Sarkin, A. J., Libretto, S., Elwy, A. R., Park, C. L., & Groessl, E. J. (2018). Yoga therapy for military personnel and veterans: Qualitative perspectives of yoga students and instructors. Complementary therapies in medicine40, 222–229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2017.10.008
  3. McCarthy, L., Fuller, J., Davidson, G., Crump, A., Positano, S., & Alderman, C. (2017). Assessment of yoga as an adjuvant treatment for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists25(4), 354–357. https://doi.org/10.1177/1039856217695870
  4. Cushing, R.E., Braun, K. L. (2018). Mind-Body Therapy for Military Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2018.106-114.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2017.0176
  5. Seppälä, E.M., Nitschke, J.B., Tudorascu, D.L., Hayes, A., Goldstein, M.R., Nguyen, D.T.H., Perlman, D. and Davidson, R.J. (2014), Breathing-Based Meditation Decreases Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms in U.S. Military Veterans: A Randomized Controlled Longitudinal Study. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 27: 397-405. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.21936
  6. Gothe, N. P., Keswani, R. K., & McAuley, E. (2016). Yoga practice improves executive function by attenuating stress levels. Biological psychology121(Pt A), 109–116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2016.10.010

Recommended Reading:

Van Der Kolk, Bessel (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. 

Emerson, David (2011). Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body.

Like the soundtrack in my restorative yoga classes? Here’s the link: