Bessel Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who tries to bring together mind, body, Brain, and social connections to treat trauma. The Brain Keeps the Score is his book. It examines trauma’s effects on the Brain and body and offers a range of treatment options, including yoga. He answered questions about yoga’s potential as a powerful tool in healing trauma.

What does yoga do for people who have suffered trauma

People tend to think of trauma as something that occurred in the past. Trauma refers to the residual from the past that settles in your body. It is located within your skin. Traumatized people become anxious about their physical sensations, their breathing becomes shallower, and they feel more afraid and worried about their inner feelings. Yoga can slow down your breathing and increase heart rate variability. This will reduce stress. Yoga allows you to feel every part of your body. It is a safe and gentle way to help your body overcome past trauma.

What is the importance of talk therapy for trauma treatment

Traumatized people are likely to have a severely distorted relationship with their bodies. My contribution is that trauma is a bodily issue. Because it’s in your body, yoga is very relevant because it directly addresses the issue of sensing and relating to the body. Although it’s essential to be able to talk about what happened and to be able to explain it, the most important thing is to take back control of your body and feel comfortable in your skin.

What evidence does yoga’s effectiveness have?

Studies have shown that yoga can be more effective or practical than any other treatment for reducing trauma stress symptoms. We demonstrated that yoga activates the brain areas involved in self-awareness. This area gets blocked by trauma and can be used to heal it.

Other techniques can also be used to treat trauma, such as EMDR and neurofeedback. What does each one do?

My approach is more than one-size-fits. To recover from trauma, dealing with many different systems is necessary. EMDR can be particularly useful in integrating traumatic memories. It shifts some brain areas involved with memory processing. Neurofeedback can alter brain activation patterns. It can change brain waves and make people more alert and quieter. Yoga may achieve the same goal, but it will likely take longer. Theatre can be a great tool to give people a voice and help them fully inhabit a state. They don’t have to feel anxious or withdraw all the time. Instead, they can be a mighty warrior or a king. It’s a consciousness-expanding tool. Theatre allows people to engage in deep conversations with others.

Does yoga promote connection in this population

Although I don’t believe yoga to be a social enterprise, it is interesting that doing yoga with others can make it more enjoyable than doing it alone. Practicing yoga in groups could activate the mirror neural system of the Brain. This system is damaged by trauma and may give people a greater sense of belonging.

It is important to remember that trauma is not something people experience daily. More than 80 percent have experienced trauma at some point in their lives, whether through alcohol, depression, accidents, violence, or any other circumstance. Yoga teachers should be aware of the consequences of their words and actions, the speed and intensity of their methods, and any possible effects on the people they teach. It can be scary to learn to take control of your body. Many people may experience flashbacks or panic attacks when they begin yoga.

Has mainstream healthcare started to recognize yoga’s effectiveness as a treatment for trauma

It hasn’t yet conquered the mainstream, but I doubt it. There is evidence that yoga is being taught at some military academies. It’s hard to find research funding for this work, and I am still seen as an outlier advocating yoga in PTSD. Are mainstream medicine and psychiatrists aware of yoga’s potential in treating trauma? Not.

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