Today I’m talking with Anissa Hudak, a registered yoga trainer who works with PTSD, trauma, and the military. She volunteers with soldiers to provide yoga and other therapies, she founded the Trauma Healing Yoga Therapy program, which uses science-based yoga and holistic techniques to treat PTSD and trauma.
Discovering Yoga-Based Therapy
Anissa found her current calling when she started taking yoga teacher training classes. At first, she wanted to have the skills for her own journey, but after the class ended found opportunities opened up for her. She loved that this new profession felt like sharing a gift rather than teaching.
After taking classes geared towards PTSD survivors and veterans, Anissa saw that she had an opportunity to take these gifts back to her community. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and the wife of an active duty combatant, she feels a special connection to those in the military and their families. From there, her journey went from one of self-discovery to helping others recover.
What Does PTSD Look Like?
PTSD presents in many different ways, which can make diagnosing it difficult. Anxiety, depression, and troubles with sleep are more recognizable symptoms. But sensitivity to light and trouble hearing can also be signs of PTSD, Anissa explains, since PTSD is an inflammatory illness.
Many factors make up PTSD before it happens, as well. The stress levels of a person before a traumatic incident, their childhood, and any pre-existing mental illnesses can determine why one person may return from an event traumatized while another doesn’t. Anissa explains that PTSD is the body saying, “I need a reset” in the central nervous system. PTSD starts in the body and manifests as a mental health issue.
How Does Yoga Help PTSD?
Anissa stays away from saying PTSD can be ‘cured,’ but does believe that it can be healed. Yoga allows practitioners to stay in the moment, which is helpful when facing PTSD triggers that try to take you back to the past. Anissa’s practice utilizes yoga to help reset the central nervous system. The more someone does it, the longer they’re able to stay in the upper echelon of their brain, rather than in the fight-or-flight response.
Anissa specifically curates her practices for people with PTSD. Slowing down can be triggering for some people, which is why Anissa’s classes are interactive and engaging. The body is allowed to move slower while the brain remains occupied. By sharing her practice, Anissa hopes that more people can start to understand what PTSD is, where it lives in the body, and how it can be treated.
Listen in for Anissa’s tips on meditation, the relationship between PTSD and memory, and how to find a yoga therapist for your own needs.
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