Yoga for Trauma Release

Rebecca Hayward
Written by Rebecca Hayward

As a yoga teacher, I look at the beautiful people I work with, generally those searching for health, emotional release and an increased sense of wellbeing, and I tend to notice where they’ve stored their hurts. I think perhaps because I have so many of my own. It’s in the way a person stands or moves, the way in which they hold themselves.

I see the pain they hold, the trauma, as strength. As battle scars hard won and worn by amazingly resilient people who are seeking hope and a new way of being. True warriors. Courageous, marvellous individuals, deserving of all the good things, and no more of the bad.

Storing Trauma

Every time we experience upset, no matter how slight it may seem to another, or how huge, if we register it as trauma, it’s stored as trauma. Within us. Emotionally and physically. As muscle memory, as fear, anger, sadness or guilt – depending on our early limbic programming, our familial patterns, our own unique developed behavioural patterns, and as a consequence of our life experience.

If there’s no space for it be expressed, released; no room for the vastness of it to escape within the realms of everyday life, it can quietly grow into something altogether too tough to face. We then tend to bury it deeper, and learn to turn away from it more skillfully.

The Power of Trauma

If you think of trauma, no matter the source, physical or emotional, as a kind of an initial impact with a cascading domino effect of shocks, it gives you an idea of its power. And if you think about where you feel it, you can get an idea of where it’s placed within your body….and more importantly where you can release it from.

  • Harsh words from a loved one, for example…where do you feel them? As a blow to the shoulders, making you bow beneath their cruelty? As a punch to the stomach, making you fold in? As a slap to the face, making you clench your jaw or furrow your brow?
  • When you experienced disbelief perhaps, when all you needed was to be heard, do you feel a sinking in the pit of your stomach? A sense of betrayal that turns to poison in the very centre of your heart? A desire to fold yourself away, to shy away and disappear?
  • If you find yourself facing a criticism repeatedly told, is there a sense of your spirit shrinking to fit within the restraints?
  • As a shock finds you, does your spine lock? Do the backs of your legs brace? Perhaps your ribcage closes in, stifling your lungs and ability to breathe deeply?
  • With too much responsibility to shoulder, do your shoulders round beneath the weight? Mine actually started to dislocate, which was because of the illness I have, but they were the first joint to go.
  • And if you’ve experienced your love being rejected, do you round and fold in, in an attempt to protect you heart?
  • Perhaps you’ve been repressed, told you can’t, you mustn’t, you shouldn’t follow your dreams and maybe you feel it in the tightness of your hips, because in your life you just can’t walk away and move forwards and get to where you want to be?