Therapeutic Oriented Yoga for Trauma reduction… a background

According to ancient Yogic thought, the basic cause of a problem lies in the mind. If the mind perceives something as an obstacle or a threat, the body reacts with a fight, flight or freeze response. Adrenaline is pumped into the system the muscles get tight, heart rate speeds and digestion stops. Traumatic reactions however, maintain this body response even though the ‘mind’ or thought processes are aware that the threat is over.

Over the past 20 years Scientists have been exploring the notion that for our whole life the Body Keeps the Score, as outlined by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk in his recent book of that name.     As we may know, the body is made up of cellular structures which have a DNA, Nucleus, Mitochondria the energy source, it has boundaries of the cell walls and is intelligent enough to know what to keep out, what to let in and what to release as it lives it life of breath, waste management and chemically based knowledge.

The body is always communicating with itself.   Perhaps the ‘subconscious mind is the body’ as postulated by Candice Pert in her pioneering work The Molecules of Emotion, on how the chemicals inside our bodies form a dynamic information network, linking mind and body.   A new perspective has been written by research scientist Krishnagopal Dharani in the Biology of Thought where he finds ‘ sensations received from the outside world imprint molecular signatures in neurons for future retrieval’ (3).   Dr. Bruce Lipton wrote in The Biology of Belief about his experiments and that … ‘The implications of this research radically showing that genes and DNA do not control our biology; that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts ‘.

Yoga’s ideas about how a problem is maintained are correct and that the Mind is (also) the Body —as we shall see.

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All the Body is the Mind

Therapeutic Oriented Yoga for Trauma reduction 

In this brief writing, I will outline some of the elements in Yoga psychology that brings us to understanding how the body and mind are considered one.

Ancient stories build a structure of existence in both the ethereal and material worlds- The Implicate Order the ground from which reality the Explicate Order emerges.   In Ayurveda– the ’sister’ science to Yoga, we learn about Parusha and Prakriti.  Parusha is the primordial Consciousness that holds potential—I liken it to what scientists of Quantum Mechanics call The Wave and Prakriti would be the Particle or matter which comes out of the Void or Pure Consciousness.  Religious story holds that there is an all knowing G-d whom is not visible, but is everywhere and who creates everything.   The wave and particle intersperse themselves… Coming and going from nothing to something.

You might say, what does this have to do with Yoga and Trauma reduction?

As we have identified through scientific research, the mind and body are an intricate part of each other.   One holds on to the other as Prakriti and Parusha do. The Implicate order of neuropathways, cellular chemical and hormonal whispering become the Explicate Order of Fear or Joy and a meaningful perception of safety or attachment.   The (6) senses inform and educate the structures of the body, which in turn inform and educate the mental constructs.

Yoga has a theory of this interaction which is called ‘subtle bodies’ or Koshas. The Koshas are a philosophical construct of a pseudo subdivision of the workings of the (human) organism in the implicate order.  There are 5 ‘bodies’.   In Sanskrit—an ancient Hindu language– Kosha means Sheath.  These are the veils covering the true Self (the spirit) which is part of Parusha.  Like lampshades covering this inner light, the Koshas go from a dense to subtle substance.

Physical – Annamayakosha : the sheath of food and of the physical body. It is nourished and also is impermanent.   Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing, Sight through the requisite organs and structures are here.

Energy – Pranamayakosha : this sheath is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations and are the driving force behind the physical body.   Through this subtle body, the ‘life force’ flows.  Breath effects the neurological systems and so the ‘mind’ and emotions.

Mental – Manamayakosha : This Veil is the level of processing thoughts and emotions. It carries ideas, emotions, intellect, memory; sensations . A direct data input.

Wisdom – Vijnanamayakosha : this sheath of wisdom is underneath the processing and thinking aspect of mind.   Through it decisions, judgments, and discrimination  between useful and not useful is manifest. It is also the level of ego consciousness.  In yogic terms, I-am-ness.  This I-am-ness itself is a positive influence, but when it gets co-mingled with memories and is clouded over with ‘samskara’ impressions in the unconscious mind (the seat of this unconscious mind is the cerebellum), it loses its positive strength.

Bliss – Anandamaya kosha : Ananda is a whole different order of reality from that of the mind. It is peace, joy, and love that is underneath, beyond the mind, independent of any reason or stimulus to cause a happy mental reaction. It is simply being, resting in bliss called ananda.

Atman – Self Atman is the Self, the eternal center of consciousness, which was never born and never dies. Atman is the light itself, the deepest light shines through the koshas, and takes on their colorings. Hmmmm—so our sense of self, even our Soul is seen through the veils of existence.. Through our body, through how we perceive and feel about things, through our actions.

For more on the koshas go to:

Deeper into the connections of perception/reaction and Trauma Recovery…..There are four separate functions or faculties of mind that are modifications: ahamkara (ego), manas (sensory or lower mind), buddhi (intellect) and chitta (the unconscious reservoir or storehouse of all impressions (samskara)): These faculties create obstacles. – Which relate to Trauma issues.

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