Mindfulness Practices for Trauma
Three Techniques To Get You Started
Yoga and mindfulness practices are being sought after by both those suffering from trauma and PTSD and the therapists who treat them for their efficacy on the path of healing. Though CBT (talk therapy) is highly valued in its ability to treat those suffering, many don’t want to talk about it or can’t, or can’t remember. Using mindfulness techniques such as breathing or yoga-based movement is known as bottoms-up processing: essentially through the body. Releasing stress and chronic tension is a key factor in releasing the trauma stored in the body. Mindfulness techniques are done entirely at one’s own pace and control, allowing you to decide what is best for you. Ultimately, through these practices, you will feel more connected to yourself. When you feel more connected to yourself, you will feel more connected to others. A steady practice (even daily) is recommended to really feel the effects.
1. Belly Breathing: Can be done anywhere at any time. Placing your hands on your belly and if comfortable, closing your eyes. Filling up your lungs with a deep breath and slightly pressing the breath down so it fills up into your belly, continuing the breath until you feel it in the top of the chest and then slowly exhale. See if you can count out for a longer exhale than inhale.
2. Bees Breath: It’s easiest to do this breath either seated on the floor or in a chair. Rolling your shoulders back so your spine is straight is always the best way for working with breathing techniques. Taking your pointer fingers and closing off your ears, begin to make a buzzing sound like a bee. You can do this with either your mouth closed or slightly opened. The buzzing creates a wonderful vibration on the inside of the body which stimulates our nervous system to relax. Try this for 2-3 minutes.
3. Grounded movement: Choose exercises that work with the legs such as walking, perhaps rolling through the feet and ankles or general stretching for the legs and hips (held lunges or hamstring stretches). When we are working through trauma, so much time is spent in our heads, it’s quite amazing how bringing our attention into our legs can help bring clarity to our thoughts, if even for a brief amount of time. For the ultimate grounded movement, walk barefoot on the grass or on the beach. Connect to nature, to help connect you back to yourself.
This is a short list. If you or someone you love is suffering from trauma/PTSD, I do recommend seeking out someone trained in mindfulness, breathing techniques or a trauma-informed yoga practice to deepen your practice and your healing.
Namasté (the light in me honours the light in you)
Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500 is a YogaFit Senior Master Trainer, International Presenter and avid writer. She is the Director of YogaFit Canada, the leader in Mind-Body Education, www.yogafitcanada.com She currently teaches Yoga in Toronto.