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Yoga For PTSD: Bringing Trauma Sensitivity To The Mat

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Yoga is an ancient tradition which uses stretching, strength building, flexibility, and a focus on the breath to heal the body. Yoga today has become an international craze for mental and physical wellbeing. An increasing amount of research has shown that yoga can be immensely beneficial to men and women who are in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Yoga:

  • Stimulates sweat, which is detoxifying
  • Encourages mindfulness and focus, which helps retrain the brain
  • Emphasizes deep breathing which helps with emotional regulation
  • Stretches the body, which can release stagnant energy
  • Promotes universality, which enhances the spiritual experience
  • Reduces stress, which aids in the entirety of the recovery process

Becoming an evidenced based practice is an honorary title for any treatment form, especially when it is used in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Evidence based means that the practice has undergone extensive amounts of empirical research, collecting data which shows that the practice effectively works in reducing symptoms.

Recently, a specific kind of yoga which can be especially helpful in the treatment of addiction and alcoholism became nationally recognized as an evidence based practice by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma-Sensitive yoga is a needed practice in the treatment industry. Most people who develop a chemical dependency on drugs and alcohol have experienced some kind of significant trauma in their lives. Trauma can happen before an addiction starts or during the course of active addiction. Substance abuse is a common side effect of trauma which has gone unresolved. Though yoga is a healing and wonderful practice for addiction treatment it can sometime contain language that, though healing for other people, is triggering for those who have lived through trauma.

According to SAMHSA, trauma-sensitive yoga “aims to support emotion regulation, stabilization, and skill building for adults.” The people who benefit most from trauma-sensitive yoga don’t have to have an experience with trauma which led to PTSD. Witnessing or being victim to traumatic events doesn’t always result in the full development of PTSD. Instead, “other related emotional and behavioral problems” can result, including substance use disorders.

Trauma sensitive yoga differs from normal yoga practices by:

  • Prioritizing gentleness in movement
  • Removing strongly suggestive language
  • Reducing the intensity of posture
  • Disallowing the instructor to provide hands-on assistance

Design For Change incorporates yoga into the curriculum of residential treatment programs and long term care programs to help clients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction heal. Everyone is capable of creating the changes necessary to heal. For information on our recovery services, call us today at (877) 267-3646.

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