Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental condition experienced by people who are relatively normal, but have sustained traumatic events such as disaster, warfare, sexual assault, or threats on their life. The symptoms of PTSD may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues such as anxiety, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight-or-flight response. Many people who suffer from PTSD symptoms don't remember the traumatic event.
Pioneering physician Hans Selye described stress as “the body’s adaptation to change.” Since change is continually happening we must constantly adapt to on-going internal and external events through the stress response. Our individual stress response pattern is created through our thoughts and beliefs, our emotional responses, the way we hold and move our body, and the way we breathe, all of which influence the function of our endocrine or glandular system which produces hormones or chemical messengers. The intricate interraction of hormones in the body always seeks homeostasis or balance, but in PTSD the higher than normal demand for stress hormones creates imbalance and blocks the natural flow of ease in the body. Over the long-term the individual may have immune system disorders and become frequently sick, or experience adrenal fatigue, irritability, and a general sense of being “stressed out,” among other symptoms.
Kundalini Meditation and Yoga for PTSD and Anxiety focuses on the breath, effective body movement, and meditation (focusing inwardly). These practices release tension from the organs, nerves, and glands to create an internal biochemistry of calm, balance, and deep self-connection, essentially resetting our stress pattern. With dedication, one begins to emerge from the disruption of the endocrine and nervous system as the old patterns shift and the body receives the healing of on-going practice.
A Breath Practice from Deva
Deva learned this practice from Shanti Shanti Kaur Khalsa in May 2017.
Right now, take a deep breath. Every good yogic breath starts with an exhalation. So let the breath go from deep in your belly. This provides room for your inhalation. Once your exhalation is complete, inhale. Once your inhalation is complete, exhale.
Continue to breathe consciously. Notice in your body where the breath comes easily, where it is restricted. Notice what part of your torso moves, and what does not. Notice where your breath stops and how deep it goes, both on the inhalation and on the exhalation.
Throughout the day, notice your breathing pattern and where you hold tension in your body. Do you hold your breath when thinking? When listening? When performing certain tasks? Do you lift your shoulders or tighten your stomach? These are all part of your personal stress response pattern. Once you are aware of your pattern, you can interact with it, modify it, and make it work for you.
Yogis teach that the breath is the life of the mind. This means that the quality of our thoughts and emotional responses is determined by our breathing. Breath is our direct link to our spirit, mood, energy, and hopefulness.
On a physical level, the practice of the yogic breathing techniques strengthens the nervous system and balances the action of the glandular system. Since these two systems are key to the stress response, proper breathing actually breaks previous patterns and forms a healthy stress response. And by breathing from the navel point, you will develop a deeper relationship with the core of the body, bringing you greater confidence and calm.
Kundalini Yoga for PTSD
by Deva Khalsa & Nishtha Jane Kappy