3 Trauma-Related Body Images Hurdles Yoga Helped me OvercomeSeptember 23, 2022
Before my trauma, I don’t think I loved my body…but I did feel strong in my body. I was training for and doing triathlons, burning off stress off and feeding my soul doing laps in the pool, pounding out steps on the pavement, and spinning away in the countryside.
My trauma changed all that. And my trauma had to do with my body because the trauma was a result of my own body failing.
Quick version: I had a major fainting episode that resulted in broken facial bones, lost teeth, whiplash, brain injury, and a decade-long recovery journey. We were unable to figure out why I fainted which led to me not feeling safe being in my own body.
I became completely terrified of fainting again, terrified of so much damage happening again.
I stopped being able to function in my life because I was so afraid of simply existing within this body.
It has been a long journey back to being embodied – and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today, deeply appreciating and honoring this body for what it can do, without yoga.
Here are three body images hurdles that came up as a result of my trauma that yoga helped me overcome:
Hurdle 1: Not being able to feel my body
One component of body image is how you physically feel in your body.
But for me after trauma, there were parts of my body that I simply could not feel. I had turned off sensation to them – one as a direct result of the trauma (the broken facial bones and dental injuries were massive and at some point my brain just turned off being able to feel that part of my body) and one as a result of trying to heal from the physical damages of the trauma (trying to protect the neck as a result of the whiplash injury resulted in not being able to feel my legs at one point).
Yoga nidra meditation really helped with this part – the repetition of the body sensing component allowed me to start relating to these body parts again. Movement on the yoga mat was also pivotal in turning on the mind-body connection to these parts again.
Hurdle 2: Wanting to disown my body
This body let me down. My body’s failings resulted in pain, agony, loss of teeth, broken facial bones, whiplash, and in general soooo much physical pain and agony.
This body also resulted in so much emotional pain as my life unraveled as a result of my injuries. This body was also not safe to exist in.
So I turned my anger towards my body. For years. I berated it, punished it, disowned it. I raged towards it.
And what helped me eventually begin to soften the anger and turn it toward appreciation was time on my yoga mat. The breaths and the poses, the consistency and the repetition of yoga helped me begin to feel my body again, to feel gratitude for the parts that did work, for all the time I did remain standing. I learned how to relate to my body positively pose by pose, breath by breath.
Hurdle 3: Having a Negative Self-Perception
My trauma changed my body. I wore a denture for years in my 30s and now have four fake teeth. I have one eye bag that looks slightly differently than the other one from bones that were broken underneath. I’ve gone through a decade long healing journey during which I’ve lost and gained weight.
It’s been hard to view my body positively. Lots and lots of shame was directed towards it and its changes.
Now, I know without a doubt it has been doing its best at every moment. Yoga was a pathway home to loving my body – not again, but maybe for the first time.
I know there are so many people like me whose lives, bodies, and self-perceptions have been altered by trauma and who’ve found solace in yoga. I know you’re a warrior and I’d love to connect with you.
Angie Davis is a coach supporting the visionary woman to find clarity and peace in life and business. As the founder of Gentle Yoga International, she helps people transform their trauma through her Grounded membership for trauma survivors. Find her on Instagram @angiedavis.ca and @gentleyogainternational