Healing Trauma through Yoga

  • Difficulty distinguishing relevant from irrelevant stimuli;
  • Problems with arousal modulation and attention;
  • Impairment in the capacity to plan and execute actions relevant to the present;
  • Difficulties peacefully negotiating interpersonal needs;
  • Problems experiencing playfulness and pleasure.
  1. Increased activation and size of the amygdala (the alarm centre of our limbic system);
  2. Decreased hippocampal volumes (responsible for storing, and creating appropriate context for memories);
  3. Reduced size of anterior cingulated cortex (relating to self awareness).
  1. Yoga helps to foster emotional regulation through the building of the vital connection between our minds and our bodies — interoception. “By anchoring our minds to our bodies, individuals can learn to befriend their inner experiences, and cultivate new actions patterns.” Approaching sensations with curiosity with fear, helps to re-frame the experience.
  2. Yoga allows individuals to feel safe in their bodies again. This enables the processing of traumatic memories in a safe space, and the creation of new positive memories.
  3. Yoga strengthens the connection between the PFC and the amygdala. The PFC has the ability to moderate emotional responses. It therefore helps us to distinguish between a perceived and real threat.
  4. In seasoned yogis, the amygdala reduces in size and, connections to other primal parts of the brain are lowered — which helps to build patience, calmness and resilience.
  5. Yoga increases the size of the hippocampus.
  6. Yoga also, and importantly, helps to regulate our ANS, increasing our ability to recover more quickly from stress, by increasing our heart rate variability — which is a measure of healthy vagal tone (the higher the vagal tone and the higher the HRV. Higher vagal tone, reflected in higher heart rate variability, means the body is in an optimal state to recover more quickly from stressors).



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