- Published: Tuesday, 14 June 2016 16:24
In June, we bring awareness to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Harry Dudley, a Living Yoga volunteer teacher and forensic & clinical psychologist, shares the impact of yoga on PTSD and traumatic experience:
Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah, the second sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, defines yoga as being that which stills the fluctuations of consciousness. I am basically paraphrasing the various interpretations and translations that I have read over the years, but for me, if the content of a yoga class, regardless of whether it is asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhrana, or dhyana, is not in service of this definition of yoga, then it is simply not yoga.
Nowhere is the need for the stilling of the whirlpools of the mind more needed than with people who struggle with posttraumatic stress disorder, whether it is due to childhood trauma, war, accidents, intimate partner violence, crime, sex trafficking, torture, or the myriad of other circumstances where trauma is possible. There is the abundant research documenting how PTSD is prevalent in the populations served by Living Yoga, and how various yoga practices help ease the suffering of those struggling with PTSD. I will not go into that here, rather, I will simply share some of what I have witnessed of the powerful capacity of various aspects of yoga to ease such suffering, which includes flashbacks and intrusive thoughts, nightmares, panic attacks and hypervigilance, emotional and physical numbing and depersonalization, as well as high risk behavior where the trauma may be compulsively acted out, and traumatized individuals seek alcohol, drugs, sex, and self-injurious behavior to cope with the sequelae of trauma.