By Faye Martins
The regular practice of sitting Yoga asanas can help trauma survivors to relax and release deeply held muscular and emotional tension. Trauma survivors often experience a rigid sense of holding in order to prevent themselves from remembering the painful experiences they have been through and to protect themselves from further pain and trauma. This holding or freezing is a basic instinctual reaction during a terrifying and painful situation. However, over time this rigid freezing is counterproductive because it limits the flow of life force energy throughout the body and prevents the survivor from integrating the traumatizing experience into his or her conscious awareness.
Supported Forward Fold, Seated Twist and Fire Log Pose are all very effective Yoga asanas that are available to Yoga practitioners of all levels. Seated Yoga asanas that are practiced in a restorative manner are particularly nourishing and relaxing. Restorative Poses will also help a trauma survivor to feel held and supported. Supported Forward Fold is an accessible Yoga asana that allows a trauma survivor to relax and release a feeling of being frozen. This restorative asana also offers a trauma survivor the opportunity to take a break from the constant recycling of painful emotions and experiences. Seated Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana will help to open up both sides of the torso and release tension throughout the upper back, arms, shoulders and neck. This pose also offers a wonderful opportunity for introducing the linking of breath to movement in a non-intimidating fashion. Fire Log Pose is a powerful yet simple asana for releasing pervasive tension in the hips that is very common in trauma survivors who have suffered sexual abuse.
Supported Forward Fold
To practice Supported Forward Fold, you will need a Yoga bolster or a sturdy pillow. Come to an easy seat on your Yoga mat and stretch your feet out in front of you. Keep your feet evenly aligned with each other and your legs gently touching. Place the Yoga bolster, pillow or a rolled blanket lengthwise across your knees. Take one complete Yogic breath and with your next exhale bend forward over the bolster. Rest your forehead on the bolster and breath deeply. Rest your hands at your sides or on your knees, shins or ankles. Relax and release your body weight into the bolster. Feel the bolster or blanket holding the weight of your body. Try to relax and melt into the bolster. While in the pose, practice pratyahara by withdrawing your senses inward and feeling your own internal spaciousness. Hold this pose for one to five minutes. With your next inhale, slowly rise back up to a comfortable sitting position.
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