First – what is trauma?
There are three psychological needs of humans: relatedness, autonomy, and competence. See The Science of Gratitude. A trauma is individualized and interpreted by every human differently when any of these psychological needs is at risk. It can be considered a trauma to be ‘isolated’ from relatedness if you think about long work hours staring at a computer screen. This is a trauma inflicted by an individual’s decision to work that particular job but it still affects one the same regardless. An ‘isolation’ trauma from relatedness can also occur if someone is physically threatened because they identify with a marginalized group thus causing them to isolate their true-self or even avoiding going out in public.
Given the wide scope in which our psychological needs can be denied one can expect to experience some trauma across a lifetime no matter how you were raised or what individual events have shaped you. Everyone is recovering from something.
Second – why recovery?
Anya Kemenetz’s article The Role of Yoga in Healing documents an interesting experience of young women finding the benefits of yoga in a correctional facility. The yoga these girls experienced helped them regain some of their basic psychological needs. And as expressed in the article, ‘recovery’ is not a single destination nor is it an isolated event. The practice of yoga in a recovery mentality can be expressed physically, mentally, emotionally – hopefully through all three! The destination of recovery is resiliency.
How do we tie it all together?
What is interesting is that while using yoga like a vehicle along the road of recovery is beneficial the eventual outcome is a day-to-day resiliency. First we learn to cope by either physically adjusting or connecting to our body in the yoga practice. Then we learn to exist in the struggle as we assimilate to the ‘language’ of yoga – the overall flow, instructions, and subtle anatomy. Finally we assimilate the full practice by breathing in the space that we’ve intentionally we created. We show up to practice on a regular basis, we allow ourselves to practice when we just don’t want to, we allow our yoga to be communal – seeking out like-minded individuals; maybe teaching or maybe giving back in some small way. Soon we find that we (as individuals) are on a super-resistant highway with our trauma in the rear-view and the destination we chose to set our navigation toward ahead. We end with our choice.