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Releasing Stress and Trauma through the Practice of Yoga

Releasing stress and trauma in the body must be done proactively. The ancient practice of yoga is specifically designed for this exact purpose.
Releasing stress

Have you ever ended a yoga class in tears? You came to the studio to get your regular dose of yoga and in final savasana at the end of a 60-minute session you could feel your heart ripping open?

This post is about releasing stress and trauma through the practice of yoga.

Stress and trauma trickle down to every layer of your being.

There are five layers of your existence known as panchakosha and when you experience trauma, it begins as an emotional response to something. Your inability or unwillingness to let it go and move past it, is like hitting the save button. The stress response remains in your body, mind, memory and even starts to define who you are.

You must know two people who always argue about the same thing. What about someone who still brings up the same event years after it happened? And you? Do you still think about something that happened years ago and how different things could’ve been?

It's common to sit and scroll when feeling stressed, but the key to releasing stress is sitting with it and actively releasing it.

Most of the time, you store these emotions because you’re unable to let them go. It is too painful to face them and listen to their stories. Whether it was something you did, or something that was done to you, sitting with these feelings brings up tears and so you avoid the thoughts. You push them away, tense and hold your breath until the tears subside. You find external outlets to help you forget: social media, television, alcohol, drugs, sex, food and spend all your time engrossed in these things.

This is the seed for a self-limiting cycle.

“But Parm, I don’t know how to let go.”

When I first heard this phrase, I didn’t know how to respond. It had never occurred to me that this could be the case. In the midst of my own suffering, it had never crossed my mind that I have the power to end that suffering.

It wasn’t long after I made an effort to deepen my yoga practice that it became my reprieve. At some level, I had recognized that what drew me to yoga was the stillness that it brought me.

Eventually, I learned about the deep connection between yoga and spirituality and that the very purpose of yoga is to still the mind, bring harmony to all layers of the Self and ultimately raise your level of consciousness.

Releasing stress with yoga

Imagine an inner game of pong. Your opponent is the deepest layer of your Self and this layer is niranjana, untouched and unstained, an unbeatable opponent. Your player is automated, responding as you’ve trained it to never miss a beat. Now imagine the ball as your deepest stresses and traumas. Whatever angle your Self sends the ball to you, you’ll send it flying right back.

Your automation is a good one, through constant, dedicated measures, you manage to keep those traumas inside. Every time they rise up to the surface, you push them down again. But like throwing a tennis ball at a brick wall, the traumas are bound to bounce right back. Your resistance is not as impenetrable as the Self.

This imbalance, this battle between your deepest Self and your outer identity sows the seeds of addiction, depression, anxiety, chronic stress, chronic physical pains, you name it and the culprit lies within. Thoughts, emotions, people, experiences, moments, they’re all meant to come and go. Somewhere along the way, you forgot how to let go.

The practice of yoga, eases the automation you’ve set up and demolishes that resistance. The trauma that inevitably comes back into your court is finally able to come out. You’re finally releasing stress that you’ve carried for so long.

You laugh, you cry, you scream, you exhale and you let it go.

You leave the studio feeling lighter and happier.

It doesn’t bother you anymore. In fact, you can’t remember why it bothered you so much to begin with.

You can’t put the feeling into words, but that yoga class is why you keep coming back.

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Parm Saggu

Hey, I'm Parm! I help people who long for a deeper meaning in life but feel caged by societal expectations to break free, uncover the secrets of life, and forge a path to be the difference they want to see in the world.

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