Here at The Well Being we focus on how moving the body improves the mind. For over a decade I have specialized in helping survivors of trauma and abuse find healing, and I have seen how essential it is to include the mind-body connection in this process.
Some traumas push you to disconnect from your
body temporarily in order to survive. If you were in a terrible car accident at a certain intersection, it wouldn’t be surprising if you felt an urge to avoid that intersection or maybe an urge to avoid driving altogether. When we are abused or experience a traumatic injury, it can feel like our own body is the place where the trauma happened. And when we can’t escape physically, the brain can help us escape mentally. This is called dissociation, and it may look like being unable to remember large parts of your childhood or being unable to remember everything that happened during a traumatic event. Unfortunately, when our environment becomes so unsafe that we have to repeatedly disconnect from the present in order to survive, the brain can begin to autopilot into dissociation and we may at times lose our ability to be mentally present, even if there is no danger at the moment.
Fortunately, there is also a great deal of evidence emerging about the brain’s ability to heal and grow after trauma! Current evidence of neuroplasticity (the fancy way of saying your brain never stops growing) suggests that while traumatic events we’ve experienced will continue to be part of our story and have some impact on us, the support and care we have post-trauma can play a huge role in helping us drive our healing journey and find true recovery in both our bodies and minds.
Trauma-informed yoga can be a great option for beginning to slowly reconnect with your body. As you work toward feeling safer in your body, it may be helpful to experiment with different kinds of exercise and practice engaging with your body in different movements and different intensities. If there is a type of movement you know you enjoy, that is a great place to start. Also consider the environment where you will exercise. Finding a place where you feel physically and emotionally safe and comfortable will help to make this practice a healthy part of your recovery journey.
It is important that whatever you try, you give yourself choice. It is essential that you take this process at your pace and practice being patient with yourself. You did not cause your trauma experience, and you deserve care and understanding as you heal. For more ideas and information, see the article and video linked below.