Monthly Archives: February 2015

Healing Trauma on Yoga

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More than a few Yogis and Yoginis have experienced the occasional emotional release during a Yoga class. Sometimes it comes with a warning – you know that an emotion is brewing as you assume a few specific Asana. Sometimes it just hits you – like a sudden downpour of rain in the middle of a sunny day.

When we were first born as a baby, we are mostly flexible. Toddlers are still pretty flexible; as they grow up gradually, the body begins to stiffen. Stuck emotional energy, repressed pain and unresolved trauma can get lodged into various body parts, joints and muscles. By the time we become adult, we are rigid as a stick.

The first 4 limbs of Yoga – Yama (Code of conduct to others), Niyama (Code of conduct to self), Asana (Physical Yoga Posture) and Pranayama (Breathing Control) are what we call external cultivation. This means that we practice them using an outer awareness.

When we assume an Asana, the bending and twisting action exposes some parts of our body that are otherwise inaccessible during the normal position of our body throughout a typical day of standing, sitting or walking. We then breathe into the body part that hurts most, and concentrate the mind onto the stretch or mild pain. In a way, we are bringing light into the dark parts of ourself that we never wanted to face. As the blocked energy begins to release, a variety of symptoms – ranging from intense deeper breathing, sighing, crying and even cartharsis could happen.

While it is not definite that crying or major cartharsis must happen in order for the practioner to achieve healing, such emotional outbursts are not bad things. It is better to be released in class, in a non harmful way, rather than to have it manifest through other imbalances in daily life. Emotional pain for example, if repressed for long, could result in formation of tumors, fibroids and other undesirable health conditions.

Science, no matter how advanced, cannot teach us what is the science of our soul, what is prayer what is god and what is compassion. Science does not answer our fundamental questions about who am I, what is the reason that I am born, and what is our relationship with god.

Yoga, on the other hand, teaches us that to get the answers to these questions, we have to study ourselves as a scientific experiment. We must be the scientist, the laboratory, and at the same time, the subject of our own enquiry.

Then when we get glimpses of these answers, which are absolute truths in their own natures, the process of Yoga releases great physical and emotional tensions. Some of which are accumulated throughout life, some through previous lives of incarnations.

The journey of discovering that these deep desires and tensions which reside in your much deeper personality, is Yoga as a scientific process.

What to do under extreme releases-

  1. If you know what is showing up, commit yourself to observing it without judgement. Do not resist, avoid, fight or be fearful of it. The key word is to observe with a neutral eye as much as possible.
  2. Keep breathing long deep continuous breaths. Don’t let there be any breaks or pauses in the breaths. Try to smooth out the jerks.
  3. Keep the mind focussed as much as you can on the pain – both body and emotional. The mind may temporarily go into comatose to avoid facing the trauma; try to gently bring the mind back to the moment.
  4. If you need to cry or make noises, scream etc, do it with love, compassion and kindness. Look at yourself with kindness; look at the situation, the memory or whatever it is, with as much softness as you can.
  5. Aim to practice consistently with the same teachers – besides leading you through a safe yoga healing process, your teacher is like a ‘space holder’. It makes a huge difference to practice with a teacher who knows you and whom you trust.

(C) Linda Loo