Chronic Pain, PTSD and Trauma: Using Yoga to Let Go of Pain (and 5 Tips for Getting Started)
March 10, 2023
When I first started yoga, I would cry. Every time I was challenged with a new pose my body didn’t know how to hold, the tears would flow. I would feel defeated. Like I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get it right. Like I had no business even trying it at all. But now I understand that practicing yoga is helping me let go of past trauma. It’s helping me let go of my pain.
After my initial attempts, I eventually learned that moving my body in these new ways was releasing tension in my body. Tension that needed to be released. Which is probably why I was crying—there were old things being released that my body had been holding onto. And I still cry sometimes during yoga. If it’s been a hard day. If I’m feeling stressed. Yoga becomes a release for my physical and emotional pain.
Yoga helps get into the crevices in my body that my past trauma stores itself in. Where my pain lies. And by deep breathing and holding poses, I’m getting into those crevices, letting fresh oxygen in and flushing toxins out. Letting go of my pain.
By doing yoga, I’m also regulating my nervous system. Resetting it. And retraining my muscles to learn new, healthy ways of functioning. Not just sticking to the old unhealthy ways I was used to. The ways my body developed as part of my fight-or-flight response.
Now, I appreciate why yoga is hard—it’s getting rid of what my body wants to hold onto. It’s helping me let go.
If you’re new to yoga, here are some tips for getting started:
- Work with a teacher when you begin. Someone who can show you how to do the poses the right way. Try a basics or beginners class before moving onto more challenging classes.
- Do yoga any time of the day. I like to do yoga as part of my morning routine, but I used to do it at bedtime too since it can help with restlessness. I also notice it’s great for five to 10 minute breaks throughout the day.
- Practice yoga no matter where you’re at. I have a travel mat that I bring with me on vacation. I also keep a mat in my car so I always have the option to drop into a class. Some yoga you can even do from your desk chair.
- Do free online classes. I love Yoga with Adriene but there are a ton of good ones out there.
- Make yoga part of your daily routine. No matter when or how you practice yoga, try to make it part of your routine. Even if it’s just five minutes a day, a little can go a long way.
I wish you a safe and joyful yoga practice. May it help you let go of pain and breathe in new life. Namaste.
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Photo by madison lavern