Stress Reduction

Yoga, Breathwork, and Mindfulness

PetalsChronic stress amounts to being trapped in a repetitive cycle of “fight, flight, or freeze” responses to challenges and difficulties. Such a state of high alert is exhausting and severely compromises the immune system, leading to many common stress-related illnesses as well as sleep disorders. Stress reduction helps with symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and PTSD.

Yoga, breathwork, and mindfulness are simple, nourishing practices that help us handle the inevitable challenges with greater balance and ease. They help us experience deep neuromuscular relaxation. These practical tools also help us treat ourselves with more compassion. They help us to be more connected to our body and be with our feelings in a new way.  Through these practices we begin to develop a compassionate witness consciousness. We learn to experience thoughts and feelings without being hijacked by them.

“It is easy to take breathing for granted, to overlook its amazing power to increase your energy, calm your mind, and help you perform at peak levels. The life of the body depends upon the breath.”
               
- Richard Faulds, Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice on and Off the Mat

Yoga

Kripalu Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that is a compassionate meditation in motion. In yoga practice we use the breath to calm and center our body and mind and bring us into the present moment.   Yoga means union – it links body, mind, and spirit.  It helps you create a deeper relationship with your body and breath, release habitual holding patterns - - yoga is about undoing.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is a modified yoga program developed by the Trauma-Center in Brookline, MA, to serve the needs of their clients with PTSD. It allows trauma survivors to safely create a more positive relationship with their body through mindfulness, breathing and gentle yoga. Befriending the body promotes deep healing.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga helps participants relax, concentrate, feel comfortable in their body, be more present, regulate their emotions, and reduce ruminative thoughts. It is a healing practice of self-inquiry and self-care.

What can you expect in a trauma-sensitive yoga class?

  • The classes are gentle
  • No experience necessary
  • Practices are appropriate for everyone, regardless of physical ability
  • You will not be expected to talk to others in the class
  • Separate group for men and women
  • Students are in control of their bodies at all times
  • Participants should be in individual therapy but exceptions will be made
 

Link to article: Yoga and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: An Interview with Bessel van der Kolk, MD

The goal of treatment of PTSD is to help people live in the present, and not feel and behave as though they are in the past.

Breathwork

Stress and painful emotions are often held in the body and even cause us to have constrictions in the way we breathe. Using body-based healing practices helps create a new relationship with yourself and your body as well as new ways of perceiving reality. Because how we breathe is a metaphor for how we live, breathwork (both yogic and therapeutic) is one of the most essential healing practices we can do to improve our physical health, our emotional well-being, and spiritual awareness.

By opening up the breathing spaces in the body, we release the holding patterns, emotional wounds, and self-limiting beliefs that prevent us from living more fully and joyfully. Through yoga and breathwork you can recover a full, flowing breath that promotes a calm body, calm mind, and improved health. When breathing freely becomes second nature to you, it gives your body the sign that it’s time to relax and heal. As you come home to your body and deeper self, you will experience more confidence, well-being, and joy.

Mindfulness

Often we do not allow ourselves to fully experience our emotions. Mindfulness helps us face our emotions and difficulties with greater ease. It helps us witness our thoughts, feelings and stories, rather than react to them. Through this increased awareness, you are able to bring greater clarity and compassion to your thoughts and feelings, so they have less and less control over you. In this way, mindfulness helps develop calmness, relaxation, compassion and insight. Cultivating self-compassion is helpful in healing emotional wounds and attachment wounds.