You may not realize this, but on some level, you’ve experienced trauma in your lifetime. We all have at one point or another. You may not remember it, but your body does.
Did you know your body stores trauma? I didn’t either until I began studying yoga. Your hips store your trauma as tension. Deep in the fascia. which means that it’s stored below the muscle. Simply stretching the muscle isn’t going to release it. This is where yin yoga comes in handy. With yin yoga, you practice with cold muscles (meaning you don’t warm them up) so that the stretch goes deeper into that fascia or connective tissue.
Let’s visit the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel chapter 3. If you’re not familiar with the story, these three men were thrown into a fiery furnace, which was said to have been around 3,000 degrees, because they would not bow down to the king’s idols. It’s worth noting what it says in Daniel 3: 24-25:
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
That fourth being in the fire with these three men has been speculated to be Jesus. Whether Jesus or an angel, this is a demonstration that God is always with us. He walks with us in the fire, in our trauma. Just because we’re Christians, doesn’t mean we won’t go through hard times. It means we’re not alone during those hard times.
Now, let’s dive right into this yoga sequence to help heal trauma:
- Begin in a simple seated position. Take a moment to slow down. Take a nice, deep inhale and exhale. Experiement with breathing from your belly. Stay here for about 5 minutes.
- Next, gently move your right foot on top of your left knee, flexed. You may begin to feel sensations in your right hip. As long as that sensation is not pain or tingling, it’s alright. If you do feel these sensations, you may want to place a folded blanket under your hips to lessen the stretch. Remain for about 2 to 3 minutes. Switch and find stillness for the same amount of time.
- Come back to simple seated for a few moments.
- Glide the right foot behind your right hip for deer. Move your front foot foward until you begin to feel as though you’re tipping away from your back foot. Sit here for 2 minutes.
- Extend your back leg behind you for swan. Bring your left knee to your left wrist. Flex the foot. Place your hands on either side of you, lengthening through the spine. (Optional) Place a blanket under your hips. Marinate in this form for 2 minutes.
- Cautiously, lean forward and bring your right leg back in front of you, coming back to a seated position. Sit here a moment. Repeat the deer-swan sequence on the other side.
- Sit in a seated position for 3-5 minutes
- Extend your left leg for half butterfly. If your body invites you, shift your torso to the left and forward fold over your extended leg. Linger here for 3 minutes.
- Switch and hold for another 3 minutes.
- Bring the soles of the feet together for butterfly. If this is a little too intense, feel free to place a folded blanket or pillow under your hips. Hold for 3 minutes.
- Gently and with intention, lean back onto your forearms until you’re on your back for reclined cobbler’s pose. (Optional) place pillows, blankets, or blocks under your knees for extra support or place a bolster or pillow under your torso. Hold for 2-3 minutes.
- Very gently, use your hands to bring your knees together. Remove any props. Then bring your knees to your chest for a couple of breaths.
- Release your legs for resting angel. Take a few minutes here. Feel free to experiment with either of the pranayama suggestions listed below.
Pranayama (breathwork) Suggestions:
Three part breath (Dirga)
Purpose: calm the mind, grounding, reduce anxiety
- Rest your hands on your lower belly. Inhale through your nose, filling up your lower abdomen. Exhale. Move your hands to the sides of your rib cage. With your next inhale, focus on expanding your ribs away from your body. Exhale. Move your hands to rest on the upper chest. Inhale, filling up the top of your lungs. Exhale. Rest one hand on your chest, the other on your belly, inhale from the lowest portion of your belly, working your way up to the top of the lungs (belly, sides of your ribs, upper chest). Exhale, but in the opposite order.
Ocean Breath (Ujjayi)
Purpose: relax and calm the mind
- Take one deep breath, in and out through your nose while you keep your lips closed. Inhale. With each exhale, draw the breath from the back of the throat as if you’re trying to fog up a window, except with your mouth closed.