Where Healing Begins: Unveiling the Transformative Power that Starts on the Mat

Standing on my yoga mat in the Warrior 2 pose, surrounded by the haunting melody of "Fear is a Liar," I felt a surge of emotions wash over me. As I gazed at my outstretched fingertips, my instructor's words echoed in my mind: "Bring to mind those times in your past that hurt. See that they are behind you." With each breath, I felt the weight of my past experiences begin to lift, replaced by a sense of strength and resilience in the present moment.

This poignant moment, etched into my memory during my YogaFaith Instructor training, illuminated for me the profound bond between trauma, our bodies, and the journey toward emotional healing. It was a revelation that struck a chord as I immersed myself in the pages of "The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma" by Bessel Van Der Kolk. In his groundbreaking work, Van Der Kolk delves into the intricate ways trauma imprints itself onto our bodies and minds, offering profound understandings into the process of healing and restoration.

As I reflected on Van Der Kolk's research, I found myself drawn to another evocative read: "This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us" by Cole Arthur Riley. In her exploration of spirituality and embodied experiences, Riley casts light on the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in the journey toward healing from trauma.

Riley beautifully encapsulates this sentiment in her words, "Our bodies serve as sacred vessels where we encounter the divine and weave the tapestry of our lives" (Riley, p. 79). This resonated deeply with my own journey on the yoga mat, where the fusion of mindfulness and movement provided solace and strength. Riley's emphasis on spirituality and embodiment adds a new dimension to the discussion of trauma healing, underscoring the significance of honoring and nurturing our physical selves in our spiritual growth.

A recent article on Psychology Today titled "Trauma-Informed Healing for All of Us" by Steve Taylor Ph.D. emphasizes the importance of trauma-informed care in fostering healing and resilience. He writes, "Trauma-informed care recognizes the widespread impact of trauma and seeks to create environments that promote healing and empowerment" (Taylor, 2021). This perspective resonates deeply with my own experiences and underscores the need for compassionate and empathetic approaches to trauma healing.

Another insightful article, in Psychology Today titled "Work on the Body as a Pathway to Healing Trauma" by Judith Orloff M.D., explores the transformative power of working with the body in trauma recovery. Orloff writes, "By working with the body, individuals can access and release stored trauma, allowing for deep healing and transformation" (Orloff, 2023). This assessment highlights the importance of integrating physical practices such as yoga and breathwork into trauma healing processes.

Drawing parallels between Van Der Kolk's insights, Riley’s reflections, Taylor's trauma-informed approach, and Orloff's emphasis on working with the body, I have begun to see the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in the journey of healing from trauma. Just as Van Der Kolk emphasizes the need for safety and presence in the healing process, so too do Taylor and Orloff highlight the importance of creating supportive environments and engaging in embodied practices for trauma recovery.

Incorporating the wisdom of these authors into my own practice as a mental health coach, yoga teacher and scuba instructor, I am reminded of the profound impact mind-body techniques can have in navigating life changes and healing from trauma. Whether it's through the practice of yoga on the mat or the exploration of the underwater world, these modalities offer opportunities for self-discovery, renewal, and restoration.

So, as you stand on your yoga mat or prepare to dive into the depths of the ocean, I invite you to embrace the journey of healing and self-discovery. Allow yourself to reconnect with your body, release stored tension, and cultivate a sense of agency over your life. For in the practice of healing, we not only restore ourselves but also reclaim our innate power to participate in shaping lives replete with peace, joy, and boundless possibility.

Van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books, 2015.

Riley, Cole Arthur. This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us. Convergent Books, 2021.

Work on the Body as a Pathway to Healing Trauma | Psychology Today

Trauma-Informed Healing for All of Us | Psychology Today

Nicole Richardson a graduating student from our Integrative Mental Health Coach Training Program. Her life is a journey, where faith, leadership, and adventure intersect like paths converging in the woods. For over two decades, she has been a trailblazer within the Presbyterian Church USA, leading with grace and understanding as an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament. Equipped with a Doctorate of Leadership and Global Perspectives from George Fox University, Nicole navigates life's twists and turns with insight and determination, blending academic knowledge with heartfelt conviction. Combining with her spiritual calling, she explores the depths as a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, finding solace and excitement beneath the waves. Additionally, she's a certified YogaFaith Yoga Instructor, promoting holistic well-being. Nicole's journey is an inspiring testament to faith, leadership, and the thrill of curiosity and exploration.

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