Trauma informs our perception of the world. All of our experiences are viewed and interpreted from this lens. Everyone has some form of trauma in their history. You can’t really escape it as a human being, but by practicing and therefore being more aware of how energy moves through our bodies, we can learn to cope with the sensation of fear when it arises.
When we are worried, defended, or afraid, our bodies tense and we hold our breath. This fight, flight, or freeze reaction comes from our limbic brain and can happen without our conscious mind agreeing to it or even being aware of it.
During our yoga practice, when we find ourselves in a difficult pose, we stay with it, focusing on our breath. In this way we can learn and practice how to use our breath to stay with a challenging experience. We learn that sending our breath to the parts of our body in discomfort can lend a type of support, allowing us to stay with the experience, focusing on the sensations arising in the body and how we respond to those sensations. Do we get angry ourselves for our ineptitude; do we have compassion; do we have pity; do we accept the range of motion we have on this day versus that day; are we curious about the sensations; can we notice how our responses may be different on different days but in the same pose; what story do we tell ourselves?
All of this is practice - so that when we leave our mat and go about our day, we notice the sensations of worry arise, we notice our response to noticing the worry, we breathe - sending our attention and energy to every cell in our body, releasing what we need to release, allowing movement, flow, equanimity and ease.
Our yoga practice can bring all sorts of challenges, not just the obvious physical ones. We compare ourselves to others, get frustrated with our awkwardness, and judge ourselves in the harshest of ways. Our yoga practice teaches us to be gentle with ourselves while at the same time finding our edge. Can we cultivate love and compassion? Sometimes, if we think about someone we love, a child, a friend, a partner, and then send them love first, we can then attempt to direct that same love to ourselves. We can hold ourselves the way we would want someone else to hold us and love us.
This body we are in has been with us all these years. It has been injured, hurt, and damaged. If we look beneath the skin, to the core of our essence, we’ll see that we’re more than this physical body. Through our yoga practice we can tap into that deeper part. Taking refuge in our breath, taking time for ourselves. Yoga can be an anchor when we feel untethered. I am so grateful for my yoga practice and feel that sense of gratitude each and every time I get on my mat.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.