Developmental Trauma occurs at particular stages of child development. It is linked to any combination of 5 types of wounds each with their own unique defence patterns that function to protect a child from further emotional and psychological injury. These defences are unconsciously carried into adulthood and affect our relationships with ourselves, each other and the world. Although the defences were originally in place to protect, they become restrictive to our healthy adult functioning.

The psychological defences also translate into particular armouring of energy within the body. Muscles hold back the natural energetic impulses in order to preserve survival in an environment of particular restriction. Soon the energy flow is chronically blocked and the body is shaped a certain way by the psychological injury or deficit. Somatic exercises are a useful way to open the armoured defence whilst the original injury is address through psychotherapy.

Yoga can be a useful adjunct to this opening of the body.

I have mapped the yoga principles and asanas that best suit each of the 5 childhood wounds. The clear objective is a balance in the provision of what each wounding specifically needs in the body. Let me illustrate a little here:

One of the main and common early wounding that affects the natural, healthy attachment process in particular arises from insufficient nurturing at critical stages of development. An imprint of this lack of nurturance & resulting negation of needs (with its corresponding often unconscious aggression that’s been suppressed and expressed instead as anxiety and depression) is carried through into adulthood. Unconsciously an individual with this wound is seeking to be mothered & nurtured by another and is rather bitter & often passive-aggressive when needs are not met. They also unconsciously give what they want to be given, truly displacing their needs.

The interruption to healthy attachment as a child means they never internalised self-care and self-nurturing due to the mother / authority figure not expressing this consistently. The child naturally mimicked the mother’s semi-abandonment of them and continues to frequently self-abandon and self-neglect as an adult.

Self-nurture, self-soothing and self-responsibility for one’s true needs becomes paramount in the healing of this wound. NURTURING styles of yoga can provide a level of self nourishment which diminishes the unrealistic, unconscious expectations & heavy demand of others to do so.

Here through the practice of yoga we can also bring into embodiment the FULL PARENTING of ourselves through the active / masculine principles of showing up to class & doing a stronger practice in a way that holds a container for our more receptive / feminine / sensitive / emotional self to emerge & receive from our counterpart. The loop, the inner partnership, the UNION becomes energetically complete within, which can potently support the realisation of more healthy relationships in the outer world.

To support the healing of this wound you can weave some of the following ELEMENTS INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE:

  •  the way your hands (as representations of nurturing, giving & receiving) make contact with other body parts. The soft, tender placement. The empathic craddling and the warm holding.
  • the reaching up and out of your arms (boat or chair pose) which releases the tension in the shoulder girdle locked in place as a result of chronic, past resistance to actively reaching out for your needs
  • the way your feet make full contact with the earth evoking a felt experience of standing solid on your own 2 feet
  • the naturally expanding, fuller breath counters the inhibited breathing that accompanies this wound (a reduction of breath reduces the amount of oxygen and therefore energy available in the body and fosters the helpless collapse reminiscent of the still-dependent child.)

Yoga can effectively complement the healing of Developmental Trauma (DT) wound. Yoga when coupled with a psycho-analytical approach in understanding the underpinnings of the defence patterns formed in the body, a safe therapeutic space to process trapped emotions ripe for releasing and a simultaneous onging long-term application of specific somatic exercises that loosen the body armouring can be a potent mix.

It’s important to note that these protective and maladaptive defences have been in place since one was a child and so require a significant period of time in therapy to progressively loosen and to allow the imprinting of healthier new ego structures to take place and shape new behaviours. You cannot just strip the defence without doing this deeper restructuring work or you risk inflicting injury and retraumatisation.

This is also why weekend large group workshops do nothing but give a temporary glimpse of what’s possible but not yet firmly etched in the psyche and rooted in the anatomy and physiology. There’s no quick fix but the unfolding reward of this kind of steady and consistent healing is the satisfaction of a deeper embodiment … or of becoming alive and awake to your core.

Izabella Siodmak Administrator
Retreat Facilitator Retreat Founder Natural Attitudes Embody Retreat
Izabella Siodmak facilitates private retreats for couples to resolve stubborn conflict and get on the same page again. She also facilitates 1 on 1 individual Emotional Wellness Retreats. This journey takes you into the roots of recurring patterns and helps you to transform aspects of this emotionally, psychologically and somatically leaving more energy & space for your true character to flourish. Izabella has written & published a variety of self-help books too.
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