Yoga for trauma

Becoming friends with your body is an essential part of trauma healing, and it must take place at a pace that respects your own unique needs. This first involves developing the capacity to deal with difficult feelings, unsettling symptoms, and unpleasant memories.

The intention is to give you a sense of safety and stability so you are able to hold your ground. Applied polyvagal theory in yoga teaches you to have faith in the reliability of the support that your yoga mat offers.

It is best to practise therapeutic yoga in a quiet, secure, and tranquil setting when using it to aid in trauma rehabilitation. Maybe this is something you can find in a class, but if you’re going to start practicing at home, I suggest you to spend some effort setting up a space that feels good for your body and mind.

developing the capacity to deal with difficult feelings, unsettling symptoms, and unpleasant memories

When applying polyvagal theory to your Yoga practice, it can help you to become a compassionate observer of your body and mind. This offers an effective starting point for self-knowledge. Sometimes, your body may respond to a stressful situation before you ever realise what caused it.

Your body and brain have released a series of stress chemicals, including cortisol and adrenaline, even if you are not aware of it. This is one of the reasons you need to work with the body to optimise healing rather than trying to mentally rationalise your way out of trauma symptoms. doing yoga on a regular basis.

Because the vagus nerve has several extensions throughout the body, it is important for neuroception. The best way to think of it is as a bidirectional communication channel between your body and brain. It is the tenth cranial nerve. A nerve that runs from the brainstem into the stomach, intestines, heart, lungs, throat, and face muscles is called vagus, which means “wandering” in Latin. The majority of vagus nerve fibers—between 85 and 90 percent—are afferent, meaning that they deliver.

Yoga as an Awareness Practice with Applied Polyvagal Theory

By intentionally noticing signs that your body is reacting to a threat of harm, you can develop your ability to recognise neuroceptive cues. You might clench your thighs, clasp your fists, stiffen your jaw, or wrinkle your brow. Whether you are doing asana, pranayama, sitting in meditation, or moving in savasana, you have the opportunity to cultivate awareness in every yoga practice.

  • Begin by observing if you find it easy or difficult to remain motionless. Do you move differently than usual? Are you tempted to fidget? Are you agitated or nervous? Do you feel drowsy or unmotivated? Do you feel drooping or bent over? Are you too still, or do you feel frozen? Are you at peace and feeling relaxed?
  • Start observing your breathing. Is there an impulse for you to hold your breath? Are you taking shallow breaths? Does it feel like you’re breathing faster or that you’re having trouble breathing, as if you’re not getting enough oxygen? Do you breathe gently and freely? Is there any tightness around your eyes? Is your brow wrinkled, or have they narrowed? Do you feel tense around your temples or in your forehead? Pay attention to your mouth and jaw. Do you catch yourself clenching your teeth or pursed lips? Is the roof of your mouth firmly pressed against your tongueBe aware of any tightness in your neck, base of the skull, or throat. Try rolling your shoulders back and forth to feel for any constriction or tightness in your chest, upper back, or shoulders.
  • Focus on your abdomen. Is there any stiffness in your low back, stomach, or diaphragm? Pay particular attention to your hips and pelvis if that’s comfortable for you. Do you find that you often clench your buttocks’ gluteal muscles or clutch your pelvic floor? Feel your feet and legs to find out whether you have a tendency to hold tension in your thighs by clutching them. It’s possible that your calf muscles are tense from habit. Are you prone to curling your toes or gripping your feet?
  • Once this mindfulness practice is complete, spend some time noticing what you noticed about yourself.

Your Vagus Nerve: Breathe

The vagus nerve extends into the smooth muscle of the heart and lungs, which is one reason why breath is important for your overall health. Both parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are represented in the heart and lung connections. Quick, forceful breaths into the upper lungs, often known as hyperventilation or overbreathing, are linked to the sympathetic nervous system. In response to stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA-axis) releases cortisol, which raises your heart rate and respiration rate and activates your self-defense mechanisms. Over time, this causes fast breathing in the upper chest, which causes over breathing or symptoms of anxiety.

hyperventilation or overbreathing, are linked to the sympathetic nervous system

This practice involves developing an even length of your inhale and your exhale with diaphragmatic or “belly” breathing. I recommend you to explore how a fundamental practice affects your body and mind.

  • Create a cosy spot to sit where you’re able to relax and feel supported. Just focus on observing your breath at first. Take note of how long your breaths are when you inhale and outhale. Take note of how the inhales and exhales change. Take note of any tension or physical, emotional, or mental discomfort you may be experiencing.
  • I recommend placing one or both hands over your tummy, expanding the area like a balloon with each breath, and then drawing your navel back towards your spine with each exhale.
  • When you’re ready, begin to measure how long your breath ought to last by inhaling to around a count of four and exhaling to around a count of four . By changing your count, you may quickly modify this breath to suit your needs depending on what’s comfortable for you.
  • When you feel finished, spend some time reflecting on whatever you noticed about yourself via this breathing exercise.


In the next blog post I will be guiding you through a sequence that explores postures to encourage vagal toning.

I hope you found this post useful and useful please put it into practice over the next few days.
Leave a comment with any feedback on any changes you notice in your general wellbeing after consistant practice.

Thanks for reading!