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Treating Trauma with Yoga

yoga poseExercise can be an important part of mental health treatment. Often those experiencing difficulty with anxiety can benefit from regular cardiovascular exercise, which allows the opportunity for the body to learn recovery from arousal. On the other hand, yoga has been researched as a treatment for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. In two studies, the PTSD sufferers that were taught and practiced yoga experienced greater symptom reduction than those that were only a part of more traditional treatment.

Yoga is used as a relaxation technique because it focuses the mind and slows down the body. Simply learning to control your own breathing can allow you to feel more in control of yourself. PTSD can leave a person with constant anxiety. Those that feel they must be prepared at all times to prevent future trauma often have difficulty controlling their thoughts and focusing on the present moment. A coping skill for dealing with certain types of trauma can be disconnection from one’s own body. Although protective in certain situations, it is not generally very functional. Perhaps more than other forms of exercise, yoga encourages body awareness and connection. All of these aspects of yoga can be very healing.

PTSD is a complex disorder. Trauma can be damaging to one’s entire being and life. Trauma alters one’s perception of the world, as well as one’s perception of one’s own self. It is important to obtain the consultation of professional advice and assistance when dealing with PTSD. It often takes time and investment to treat which can be frustrating for those seeking to regain control of their lives. I will be encouraging my clients working through PTSD to try yoga in addition to our treatment, and I hope that they will also experience a speedier reduction in symptoms.

via Yoga Journal

May 17th, 2009

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