For some people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having flashbacks, feeling on edge, emotionally numb, or having a complete loss in interests altogether are all common experiences. Some might feel as though these effects may never go away. The feeling of being mentally trapped in this cycle of emotions can sometimes seem even worse than the emotions themselves. So if you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD, what can you do to move toward a place of healing? You might consider practicing yoga. Maybe you’re taking medication already, so why not try something a little bit different?
Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
When a person sees or experiences a traumatic event, the “fight or flight” response kicks in, and it’s normal to feel a little nervous or on edge for a period of time. If your body isn’t recovering naturally from the initial symptoms after a few months, and you continue to feel stressed or frightened even when you’re not in danger, you may be diagnosed with PTSD.
It’s also important to note that different people can experience trauma in different ways. There is not just one scale to gauge a person’s level of trauma that could have led to PTSD.
How Can Yoga Help?
Literally meaning to “yolk” or to “unite” in Sanskrit, yoga creates a connection between the body and the mind, as well as between us and other people. Yoga is about far more than just putting your body into different poses – it’s about your breath and finding a sense of balance in all that you do.
Calming The Nervous System
Breathing is one of the most powerful tools the body has. By focusing on your breath, you’re already starting to regulate the nervous system. With PTSD, your nervous system is in a constantly heightened state. When you direct your attention to your breath, the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, jumping ahead of the sympathetic, and ultimately regulating the central nervous system.
For war veterans with PTSD, a common struggle can be the feeling of loss of community. For anyone with PTSD, however, it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone. Coming to a yoga class, knowing that you’re all struggling with something, can be a helpful tool and can help create a sense of community you might not otherwise experience.
It Brings You Back To Your Body
Often times, experiencing a traumatic event that leads to PTSD means you might get stuck in your head at times. Flashbacks occur, you feel on edge and your thoughts run wild. Practicing yoga provides you with time to sit quietly, find stillness in your mind and focus on nothing but your breath and the physical feeling of being in your body. You can even begin to practice focusing on your breathing and body when you’re outside of class, so that if you ever experience heightened stress or panic, you’ll know what you can do to help.