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Counseling, Yoga, & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD: A Brief Rundown

You don’t have to be a war veteran to experience posttraumatic stress. A loss of vocation, sexual abuse, divorce (or the end of a relationship), physical injury, natural disaster, junior high school, and other traumatic life experiences can all lead to PTSD. Are you experiencing the following due to a traumatic event:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance (being overly watchful)
  • Exaggerated Startle Response (being jumpy)

Have these symptoms lasted more than one month or have they occurred six months (or longer) after the event? Are these symptoms causing you to be significantly distressed or impaired in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning? If so then you may have developed PTSD.  PTSD is considered “acute” if the symptoms have persisted for less than three months. It is considered chronic if they have lasted three months or more. It is considered delayed if your symptoms began at least six months after the event or events occurred.

Side Effects of PTSD

However long you have had PTSD the experience can be dehabilitating. There is nothing worse than living in an unstable mind. Life become extremely difficult and everything around you is affected because you see and hear with your mind, not with your eyes and ears. Therefore, if you live in an unstable mind you live in an unstable world. For those experiencing the effects of PTSD their life seems to stop moving forward because their mind is focused on the trauma. So, the majoy side effect of PTSD is that you have lost control of your thoughts. Well, thoughts are just that, thoughts. Exercises in present moment thinking and thought stopping help the you stabilize as you process the trauma in a safe environment so that it can be let go.

PTSD Is Not Permanent:

PTSD is not permanent, though it can have severe mental and physical side affects if it is not addressed. When negative neuro chemicals are released at a constant rate into your nervous system (and then into your other body systems), your body and mind begins to malfunction. Excessive weight gain, weight loss, lethargy, hypersensitivity, high blood pressure, IBS, migraines, and other biological issues can manifest when the body is being attacked by the mind. David Shannahoff-Khalsa, in his book Kundalini Yoga Meditation For Complex Disorders, showed that a great many studies, and an even greater amount of money, has concluded that a number of physical conditions can occur in patients suffering from most psychiatric disorders. This is why it is vitally important to not only seek therapy for the memories and emotions that occur during episodes of PTSD, but also for your nutrition and body care.

Yoga, Sound, & PTSD:

One of the reasons I received my Yoga teacher’s certification was so that I could teach individual yoga sessions, pranayama breathing, and meditation techniques to clients dealing with PTSD and other anxiety issues. For example, someone who has been sexually traumatized, or had a traumatizing accident, may not feel safe living in his/her body, and begin living his/her life from the neck up (Weintraub, 2012). Studies now show that Yoga, mantra-based meditation, breath work, and guided imagery are effective in working with trauma and can be a gentle way to help you reclaim your body. MBSR training for survivors of sexual trauma at the University of Marylan Center of Integrative Medicine showed that including gentle yoga in its treatment created a dramatic decrease in symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety after 8 weeks (Weintraub, 2012).

Spoken mantras (meditational sounds) have been scientifically proven to be very affective in healing the mind and body. “It alters cellular function and biological systems, through synchronization, to function more homeostatically; it calms the mind and the body; [and] affects emotions, which influence neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, which in turn regulate the immune system” (Gaynor, 2000, p. 47). Denise Kersten Wills, a writer for Yoga Journal stated that “In a study published last year in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, a prominent PTSD expert found that a group of female patients who completed eight hatha yoga classes showed significantly more improvement in symptoms—including the frequency of intrusive thoughts and the severity of jangled nerves—than a similar group that had eight sessions of group therapy.” This does not mean that yoga and sound therapy should replace counseling, but, if added to counseling sessions, recovery can come quicker and with less physical side effects.

Combining Counseling & Yoga

While I will not have you sweating in 100 degrees on a mat, I may employ a few breathing exercises, mantras, and homework poses to help with the healing process. They will be easy and non strenuous, so there is no need to feel intimidated or worried that you won’t be able to participate.

The Session:

The session will help you deal with the memories of the trauma so you can move forward with techniques to use at home (including nutrition and body care), which will increase the speed of your recovery.

Counseling sessions are also helpful for friends and family who may be at a loss for how to deal with, or are emotionally affected by, a loved one experiencing PTSD.

Combining mental and physical tools can speed up the recovery process and bring you closer to a peaceful mind.

For more information on therapy for PTSD, and other forms of anxiety, please contact me by phone or email.

Sources For This Page:

Weintraub, A. (2012). Yoga skills for therapists. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2010). Kundalini yoga meditation for complex disorders . New York: W.W Noron & Company Inc.

Weintraub, A. (2012). Yoga skills for therapists. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2010). Kundalini yoga meditation for complex disorders . New York: W.W Noron & Company Inc.

Kersten Wills, D. (n.d.). Denise kersten wills. Yoga Jouranl, DOI: www.yogajournal.com/health/2532

Williams , M. B. (2002). The ptsd workbook” by . Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.

 

 
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