For those wounded . . . yoga is the most healing salve.
An Evening of Yoga
Two nights ago, a friend and I went to a Restorative Yoga class together. About 15 people of all ages gathered in a soft-lit carpeted room. Music was playing softly from somewhere. Soothing, slow music without a melody, simply the periodic sounding of bells. Without speaking, everyone got their class stuff, bolsters, pads, and blankets, and chose a spot. After a few minutes, a slim woman dressed in black whose presence exuded peace, began the class.
We began with the legs against the wall pose and held it for a long time. The only sounds to be heard in the peaceful room were those of breathing and the quiet shifting of bodies. The instructor circulated quietly around the room, helping people adjust their poses. She stopped by my side and, because I'd mentioned a neck injury to her before class, made sure that my neck was supported. Then she moved on to help other people. From legs up the wall, we shifted into a series of slow, gentle poses, each held for a long time. The only sounds were breathing, the occasional voice of the instructor, and the occasional sound of temple bells. I could feel my mind and body softening, soaking up peace like a sponge.
Body work of various sorts can be very beneficial for those with PTSD. Meditation hasn't worked for me, because only looking into the mind can be frightening for some people with PTSD. Thankfully, yoga and tai chi, which I can do, also help reconnect the body with the mind, repairing the disconnection caused by trauma. Better yet, both practices feel good. Really good. After my second session of restorative yoga, I realized that my body craved more of this kind of making peace with my body, the way thirsty people crave water.
All too soon, the class ended and my friend and I got up and put our bolsters and pads away. Some people sipped the mysterious herbal tea that no one had been able to identify. The instructor went to the back and returned and said it appeared to be an unusual blend of roiboos, mint, chocolate, and chai! No wonder no one recognized it. Afterwards my friend and I drove down the street and went into a bakery and had tea and cookies. It was a good night.
Other Types of Body Work for Healing PTSD and Grief
- Tai chi
- Walking meditation
- Qi gong
- Other types of yoga
Here is a fascinating article about using yoga to heal PTSD.
Don't have a yoga studio in your community? Take a look at this youtube clip or consider purchasing one of the resources listed below.
A book on the subject for those of you who prefer reading about a topic.
A great follow-along DVD for those who cannot find a restorative yoga practitioner.
What body work do you do to help heal either PTSD or grief?