Date Night With Yoga While Healing the Brain
New research out of the Trauma Center in Boston is coming out on the healthy effects of yoga on the brain to treat PTSD and Combat Stress. Specific aspects of yoga that teach you how to calm your body and control your breathing can begin to rewrite the neurological pathways giving the individual more mastery over their mind. What a great idea for a date night as you strengthen your body and heal your brain together!
Besser Van der Kolk was the originator of the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Matt and I had the absolute privilege of attending one of his workshops. Armed with a bunch of heady biological research (which I ate up) a few things stood out. Our body's response to trauma is naturally to fight, flight, or freeze up. After that trauma, any stimulus around us that reminds us of the trauma (usually sensory- something we see, taste, smell, or hear) triggers our body to go into survival mode. Many soldiers go into fight, lots freeze up, but most (male or female) have the relationships effected as they struggle to be vulnerable and close.
Van der Kolk and his colleagues are finding that among other things, yoga has made quite a difference in teaching the individual how to calm his or her body and mind when this survival instinct is triggered. Because many of these flashbacks occur when the mind is empty, a yoga class (especially taught by an instructor who is trained to work with PTSD clients) allows the person to relax and then calm the body. Specific types of classes are emerging for those who are suffering from PTSD or emotional trauma. The idea is basically, how do we slow the mind and integrate the heart beat and breathing simultaneously, bringing the person from reliving the past to experiencing the present. You can't be stuck in the past and live in the present at the same time. This provides the tools and practice needed to give mastery over the body.
This provides a great idea for a date night! Instead of going to a movie where images and sounds will likely trigger your spouse. Try finding a yoga studio (one that preferably provides yoga therapy) and take a class together. Not only will your spouse feel supported and be more likely to go with you with him or her, but it will be a great mind and body experience to connect on. Who knows, there may even be a time in the future where you can help remind your spouse of the tools you learned in class and help them in the moment.
Click here to read an amazing article on how Yoga is treating Veterans.
For more information on research by Van der Kolk, visit the Trauma Center's website here