A nice way to heal trauma is through bodywork. Based on the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bassel van de Kolk as well as other famous body workers such as Peter Levine, trauma or traumatic memory is ‘frozen’ in some part of the body. Many people who went through trauma are also seeking relief from the body.
Movement in general is helpful for stress-releasing, and learning a new skill actually helps someone to build better self-confidence.
However, for people who went through severe, and/or complex trauma, I personally would suggest they go to trauma-informed exercises or courses. This is because people who have a lower window of tolerance, could easily get triggered and get into helplessness or frozen, instead of getting the benefits of the movement itself.
Hereby I collected some information for people to select options for trauma-informed, or trauma-sensitive movements. I am not affiliated with any of the programs underneath. I am sharing this information because it seemed trustworthy and correspond to what I believe to be helpful for people who are recovering from trauma.
At location practice:
Trauma is best to be healed in a group because we are social beings and we strive in community. Therefore, if it is possible, join any community/course/program that you feel belongs.
- Self-defence course: Juno (Utrecht) https://juno-selfdefense.com/foundation
- Trauma-sensitive yoga teachers in the Netherlands: https://www.traumasensitiveyoga.com/facilitators/netherlands
Information and self-practicing skills:
Being in Movement and Paul Linden
Paul Linden is an aikido master and a trauma-informed bodywork educator. He wrote many simple exercises for trauma survivors to be calm and present, and it is free on his website. I like his metaphor of ‘giving your attention to up-down-front-back-left-right (or reaching a piece of pizza in all these directions)’, and ‘smiling to yourself in your heart’. When I am writing these lines I immediately feel much grounded. (Watch this video to feel his idea of embodiment peace making https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLsF7y8QOw )
TRE® – Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises for all
It is a website with information and training about trauma-releasing exercises (TRE). TRE teaches streching and induces strecht and shakings from the body, just as the natural response from animals after traumatic events (such as this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z41x1BaXMdE).
The basic techniques are very subtle and simple. You can learn by looking at the youtube video https://youtu.be/FeUioDuJjFI
I personally learned my shaking in aikido. It is similar to the one shown in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo3Z-591fEw (I could not find a better one).
Somatic experience and Peter Levine
Peter Levine introduced many body techniques on Youtube, such as:
- hugging yourself to feel settled https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7zAseaIyFA&list=PLNSWG8XYXATWPhylsxTkWy8BFRZhm9lic
- Jumping for changing chronic fear body status https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxXJWUX-bz4
Vagus nerve stimulation or massage
You can find numerous youtube videos that help you stimulate your Vagus nerve, which is relevant to calming our system and reducing anxiety. I personally like these:
- working on your upper belly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUx5kLFyx-M
- working on laying on your back with your hands on your neck and yawn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S8KT7w4uaA
- working on vibrating your vocal cord https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSAvPgqQ2L0
- Or simply use a massage ball (such as this ) to massage the back of your neck.
Other people might like other ways (such as cold water, massaging your ears, or singing — yes, singing. I would like to join a choir when I have time because it made me feel good afterward and I don’t have to worry about being embarrassed because I am singing in the group.)
These are all the body techniques I know and I found them helpful to release stress and ground myself. All of the techniques need to practice to get better benefits. For example, I learned how to shake my center after almost 2 years and I cannot say I grasp it all. But I believe you get some kind of benefits from the first time you try.
Everyone’s body is different so you may find some are more benefits than others. If you have tried any of them and you found them helpful, please comment and share how you feel below.
If you know anything better, please do not hesitate to comment and share so others will also get benefits from it!