In light of the very recent event this week in Toronto and a few weeks past in Humboldt, our entire country could use a big hug right now. Whether we knew someone involved or are just trying to process what happened through media outlets and shared stories, we grieve as a collective. We feel the pain of those suffering or might be anxious or scared as to what might be around the next corner. Working through grief and trauma is a process, and one that is never a straight line. Community and time do help but what can we do right now?
Yoga and mindfulness practices have long been sought after by both those suffering from trauma and PTSD and the therapists who treat them for their efficacy on the path of healing. Though CBT (talk therapy) is highly valued in it’s ability to treat those suffering, many don’t want to talk about it or can’t, or can’t remember. Using mindfulness techniques such as breathing or yoga-based movement is known as bottoms-up processing: essentially through the body. Releasing stress and chronic tension is a key factor in releasing the trauma stored in the body, leading to better sleep and lowered anxiety levels. The best news is that mindfulness techniques are done entirely at one’s own pace and control, allowing you to decide what is best for you. Ultimately, through these practices you will feel more connected to yourself and when you feel more connected to yourself, you will feel more connected to others. A steady practice (even daily) is recommended to really feel the best effects.
- Belly Breathing: Can be done anywhere at anytime. Placing your hands on your belly and if comfortable closing your eyes. Filling up your lungs with a deep breath and slightly pressing the breath down so it fills up into your belly, continuing the breath until you feel it in the top of the chest and then slowly exhale. See if you can count out for a longer exhale than inhale.
- Bees Breath: It’s easiest to do this breath either seated on the floor or in a chair. Rolling your shoulders back so your spine is straight is always the best way for working with breathing techniques. Taking your pointer fingers and closing off your ears, begin to make a buzzing sound like a bee. You can do this with either your mouth closed or slightly opened. The buzzing creates a wonderful vibration on the inside of the body which stimulates our nervous system to relax. Try this for 2-3 minutes.
- Grounded movement: Choose exercises that work with your legs such as walking, perhaps rolling through your feet and ankles or general stretching for the legs and hips (held lunges or hamstring stretches) When we are working through trauma, so much time is spent in our heads it’s quite amazing how bringing our attention into our legs and essentially back to our bodies can help bring clarity to our thoughts, if even for a brief amount of time. For the ultimate grounded movement walk barefoot on the grass or on the beach. Connecting to nature, to help connect you back to yourself.
Namasté (the light in me honours the light in you)
As a certified trauma-sensitive Yoga Therapist I offer one on one sessions in the Toronto area, please email me for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org. I have also trained many others across Canada and would be more than happy to recommend someone in your area.