Bringing Trauma-Informed Yoga Into Mental Health with HRV Evidence
“I consider Yoga to be the earliest technology for improving oneself. The best part is, all this has been around for at least 2000 years. It turns out you can teach people to have better heart rate variability. The Yogis learned that you can regulate yourself up or down simply by controlling your breath with Praniyama,” explained here for modern times by mental health expert and Yogi Brad Uebinger.
In The Body Keeps the Score, Trauma Specialist Bessel Van Der Kolk said that studying heart rate variability is what lead to all his other discoveries. High HRV (Rapid, responsive fluctuation of the pulse) is better, because it means your nervous system is in balance. This lead Van Der Kolk to explore exercises like Yoga.
Poor HRV (lack of fluctuation) has negative effects on thinking and feeling, and contributes to heart disease and cancer. Luckily, these techniques allow us to have some control over our impulses to certain stimuli. As long as we can stay calm, we can choose how we want to respond.
A Brief History of Yoga (For Westerners)
- In the 2nd Yoga Sutra, Patanjali, offered his own definition of yoga: “Yogas chitta vritti nirodha”. Translation: “Yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind”
- In 1893, at the World Parliament of Religions, in Chicago, Swami Vivekenanda delivered the keynote speech, which was mostly about yoga,
- The early part of the 20th Century – Scientists brought in accomplished yogis and studied their ability to perform astounding feats, such as stopping their heart and respiration, so that they appeared to be dead, and then resurrecting themselves again.
- 1960s & 1970s – Scientists begin to study the effects of meditation and discover that it has numerous benefits for mental and physical health.
The Body Keeps The Score Chapter 16: Yoga: Learning to Inhabit Your Body
“The first time I saw Annie her legs were visibly shaking. I had very little information about her other than that she was 27. She was too nervous to talk–people who are this scared cannot think straight–whenever conversation shifted towards her own personal life, she would react by making her mind disappear.
Annie had been abused by both her mother and her father, and was enduring the legacy of this inescapable shock. Using metaphors, her smoke detector (amygdala) had been rewired to intercept certain situations as harbringers of impending danger: telling her to fight, freeze, or flee. annie had all these reactions at the same time. “,
On Bessel Van Der Kolk and The Body Keeps the Score
“”‘alot of people think of yoga as being a light exercize with some mindfulness exercizes attached. Really its the oppositte–its really about the practice of self-awareness and it just so happens that these exercizes can help with this meditation.””
the basic premise is that we have all these new technologies to discover whats going on in the brain and what we’ve learned is that the prefrontal cortex is not where trauma is being stored. its actually being stored in the nonverbal—even Preverbal part of the brain. The reptilian brain. The take-away from bessel van der kolk’s work has been focused on work-arounds to reconnect with the body, with ourselves, and with others. “
Brad Uebinger works with that particular hospital X as their X. Click here to learn more about Yoga for trauma.
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