Though the body and mind are both affected by abuse, both have different healing needs. Yoga is fast becoming one of the leading tools to address the body’s healing needs while healing from abuse.
Using Yoga to Heal from Abuse
A unique program in Portland, OR was the subject of a recent article titled “Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse with Yoga.” The program is an 8-week course that addresses the topics of safety, boundaries, strength, assertiveness, power, intuition, trust, and community. Participants deal with each of these topics by using yoga, meditation, and art projects. The program has a number of other interesting aspects. It features a teen leadership component: teens who have gone through the program can return and mentor younger students. The program features a 4-week program for parents as well.This program is showing results that a holistic approach can help victims of abuse heal.
While yoga is beneficial for those who have suffered abuse, you shouldn’t go to just any yoga studio. If you’re interested in using yoga to heal from abuse, look for an instructor who is trauma-informed and trained to work with abuse sufferers. Trained instructors will be able to create a safe environment and recognize boundaries more easily. If you can’t find one in your area, you can read Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper. It was written to help not only those who have suffered abuse, but for anyone who has experience trauma. Here is an excerpt from the introduction written by trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk, MD:
For someone to heal from PTSD, one must learn how to control bodily reflexes. PTSD causes memory to be stored at a sensory level-in the body. Yoga offers a way to reprogram automatic physical responses…What is beautiful about Yoga is that it teaches us-and this is a critical point for those who feel trapped in their memory sensations-that things come to an end.
If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, here are a few articles about using yoga to heal from abuse: