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Practicing Yoga to Reduce Your Trauma Symptoms

Man doing yoga

Yoga Can Help Reduce Your Trauma Symptoms

It's not unusual to experience flashbacks, anxiety, nightmares, depression, or irritability weeks, months, or years after a traumatic event. Luckily, yoga offers an excellent way to calm your mind and manage your troubling trauma symptoms.

Are You Struggling with Trauma?

Psychological trauma can occur after any frightening or stressful event. You may develop symptoms after a car accident, robbery, the death of a loved one, or after years of physical or mental abuse. Emotional trauma is particularly common in soldiers, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after experiencing combat or witnessing frightening events.

In a research study published in Military Medicine in 2018, combat veterans who participated in yoga classes once a week for six weeks saw a significant improvement in their PTSD symptoms. After completing the classes, participants were less likely to experience hyperarousal, flashbacks, and numbness/avoidance. Yoga also helped the soldiers sleep better and reduced depression and anxiety.

No matter what the reason for your trauma, yoga can be just as helpful for you.

How Yoga Can Ease Your Symptoms

Yoga offers many mental health benefits that are beneficial for trauma survivors, including:

  • Stress Reduction. Yogic breathing, an essential component of yoga, naturally reduces stress. Practicing deep breathing triggers the relaxation response, which decreases anxiety, lowers your heartbeat and blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles. According to The American Institute of Stress, just 20 to 30 minutes of deep breathing daily can reduce anxiety and help you feel calmer and less stressed.
  • Coping with Flashbacks. In addition to mastering yogic breathing, you'll also spend part of each yoga session meditating. Meditation helps you clear your mind and focus only on the present moment. If worries or thoughts begin to creep in, you'll acknowledge them, then return to meditating again. With practice, you'll soon be able to dismiss thoughts that cause you to feel worried, anxious, or depressed. Both meditation and yogic breathing can help you calm yourself if you experience flashbacks or start to feel tense, angry, or frightened.
  • Loosening Tight Muscles: It's almost impossible to relax when your muscles are tight. Performing yoga poses stretches your muscles and helps keep them loose and limber. During yoga classes, you'll learn how to isolate and control various parts of your body when you perform poses. Achieving control over your body may also help you feel more in control of your emotions and reduce trauma symptoms.
  • Changing Your Focus. Trying to perfect yoga poses and synchronize them with your breathing takes considerable effort. While you're practicing yoga, you won't have time to think about anything else. If trauma symptoms start to overwhelm you during the day, pulling out your yoga mat and performing a few poses may help you feel much more centered and in control.
  • Improving Your Energy Level. Dealing with flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and tension can be exhausting. Fortunately, yoga offers a natural way to combat fatigue. Downward-facing dog and the cobra and bridge poses are particularly helpful for increasing energy, according to Yoga Journal.
  • Getting More Sleep. Have you noticed that your symptoms seem worse when you haven't slept well? Yoga improves insomnia too. Total sleep time, total wake time, sleep efficiency, sleep quality, and the number of awakenings improved for people with chronic insomnia after eight weeks of yoga classes, according to a study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback in January 2005.

Are you ready to find out if yoga can help your trauma symptoms? Get in touch with us for information on our class offerings and schedules.


Military Medicine: Yoga for Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 5-6/18

The American Institute of Stress: Take a Deep Breath, 8/10/12

Yoga Journal: Yoga for Energy

Yoga International: Transcending Trauma – How Yoga Heals

Social Work Today: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, 12/14

Medline Plus: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder