There is no doubt that coping with trauma is a challenging and often lengthy process. Its effects can be lasting and, to some extent, your teen has to develop new ways and strategies for interacting with the world while navigating their feelings and emotions.
Yoga has many health benefits—not just for the body, but also for the mind. As a result, it can be a helpful tool to use when dealing with the physical and mental aftermath of a traumatic incident. Here are six yoga poses worth exploring to relieve symptoms of trauma.
While this isn’t exactly a pose, breathing is a crucial foundation in any yoga practice, and can have a profound impact on feelings of nervousness, stress, anxiety and muscle tension.
Here’s how your teen can try it out:
- Find a comfortable position, whether it’s standing, lying down or sitting in a chair.
- Place one hand on your belly to feel your breath rise and fall.
- Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for one count, then exhale slowly for another count of four. Aim to breath deep into your belly, rather than in your chest.
As your teen continues through the rest of their yoga practices, they should try to hold on to this breathing rhythm.
2. Mountain Pose
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The mountain pose is a position of strength, confidence and openness—all of which will help with symptoms of trauma that have left your teen feeling weak or uneasy. To alleviate such feelings, your teen can do the following:
- Stand with your feet apart, toes facing forward, with your weight distributed evenly across both feet.
- You can have your hands down by your sides, with your palms facing forward—this creates a posture of openness and a willingness to embrace whatever comes next. (Alternatively, place your hands in a prayer position, together at your heart, which directs your attention to an inward focus.)
- Make sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed so you can feel your own grounded strength in this foundational yoga pose.
This yoga flow through two poses is an excellent way for your teen to move with their breathing, in order to promote circulation and relaxation. If they’re feeling particularly stressed out, they can try doing a few cat-cow sequences paired with deep breathing to help calm their mind.
- To begin, arrange your body so that you are on all fours—with your wrists positioned directly under your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Your spine should be flat.
- As you breath in, tilt your pelvis up and arch your back so that your belly drops down and your head is lifted up.
- As you breath out, lower your pelvis and arch your back so that your abdomen is hugged in and your head faces your navel.
- Repeat this sequence slowly, following your breath.
Image Credit: Tiffany Barry
Many people who live through a traumatic experience feel the effects inside their bodies. Twists are an effective way to soothe internal stress and cleanse or detox the abdomen and organs.
There are many different twists your teen can try, whether they’re standing, sitting or lying down. Here’s an example using a reclined position:
- Lie down flat on your back with your arms extended out to the sides.
- Bend your legs and bring your knees up. Let them fall to the right side, and turn your head to the left.
- Stay in this position for a few breaths, then switch sides.
- You can use a hand to guide your knees down or you can leave both of your arms extended.
5. Cobbler’s Pose
Sometimes we can store a lot of stress and tension in our hips, particularly when we feel threatened. Using a hip opening pose can help your teen relieve some of this tension and create an overall sense of openness and acceptance. A simple one they can try is the cobbler’s pose.
- Sit down with your back straight.
- Press your feet against each other, allowing your knees to relax naturally. Simply let gravity do the work—there is no need to push your knees further down so that your hips open up.
Your teen can also try a variation of this pose—the reclined cobbler’s pose—in which the feet and legs remain in the same position but the body is lying down on the floor.
6. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
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Shavasana (or “corpse pose”) is usually done at the end of a yoga practice as a final resting pose. It helps to repair tissues and cells while also relieving the body of stress. Shavasana also reduces blood pressure and feelings of anxiety.
- Lie down, with your back flat on the ground. (If you need it, place a blanket or pillow under your head.)
- Take a moment to stretch your arms over your head, and then relax them by your sides.
- Your legs and feet should be stretched out too.
- Scan through your body to ensure each part is relaxed—from your eyelids and jaw to your shoulders to your hips and your legs.
- Rest here for a bit, and feel the support of the ground beneath your body.
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