Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data on the Benefits of Yoga, Ayurveda & Mindfulness for Inmates with Complex Trauma
I presented this research poster at the National Ayurvedic Medical Association’s yearly conference April 26-28 near Santa Cruz, California and was encouraged to write about it.
This very informal, ongoing study includes findings from a three year time period with low-security women at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada City, California. This study elucidates the difference between quantitative values for self- reflective questions about inmates’ experience, and qualitative statements, or testimonials, by inmates through an eight week series. I have taught Mindfulness and Trauma Informed Yoga Asana classes to over a hundred men and women. Though I have dozens of initial surveys, for the purpose of this study, I included only those who had completed both an initial and final questionnaire, which, so far, are only from seven women. While I know this is not enough to draw any kind of definitive conclusions on, say, how yoga reduces recidivism, I believe there is enough to illustrate some difference between qualitative and quantitative data, and demonstrate the need for both, even though Western medicine relies so heavily on “more objective” quantitative data.
What is yoga therapy? In addition to answering this question with a defining meaning, this short slideshow (access by clicking the "Read more..." link below) will also share how yoga therapists differ from yoga teachers, and how yoga can support health alone and/ or complement other medical treatments. Yoga therapy is quickly growing as a respected field, but not so fast that it loses integrity. Doctors and hospitals are beginning to see the benefits of somatic therapy and why such highly trained practitioners are such valuable resources for their practice.
I came across this Time magazine article that highlights the benefits of mindfulness and yoga in the workplace. To those who do not practice, this article may be an eye-opener as to how much further employers' money can stretch when their employees do. A little break in the middle of the day, with space for reflection, breathing, stretching, and uplifting focus, tends to increase productivity in employees.
We’ve all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is much easier to prevent any illness by not allowing it to take root, than once symptoms have, like a tree, taken root and borne fruit. We have addressed some preventive tips in previous classes, and this class will overview the basics. Optimal balance is different for everyone, though there are basic things to do that can be adapted specifically for you. At any stage of imbalance, from prevention to full-fledged illness, treatment is more effective the more specifically individualized it is. Underlying all of the specifics, the most important thing is to make time for self-care!
Trauma is by definition an experience that we lack tools or resources to handle, process, assimilate, or integrate a lesson from. There is a magnetic loop, called re-enactment, that draws us back into familiar patterns, where we have to learn lessons again and again through similar situations over time. This is essentially the cycle of trauma. It is a loop that never ends unless one learns to develop their internal resources.
There are 3 portions of the brain. Each part of the brain has balanced and imbalanced functions.
The first to develop was the reptilian brain, when in balance, it allowed for sleep or relaxation and helped to freeze a creature/ being when they heard a noise to track where the threat was and/or play dead, and/or not feel itself be torn apart. This second function is incredibly protective when needed, but this function can stick to a person as well, leaving them stuck, paralyzed or frozen in their lives: When they have to make choices or act fast, they cannot. Hearing is still enabled in this part of the brain even when one is comatose.
Trauma is by definition undigested impressions, or an overwhelming experience which one did not have the tools or resources to know how to assimilate what was useful and release what was not. So the trauma settles into the tissues of both body and mind, causing progressive mental and physical disease, until one finds resources to assist in trauma discharge and stepping off the cycle of reenactment into a vortex of healing. Yoga can be a portal to receive and assimilate healthier lifestyle habits because as the body feels better, the easier it becomes to make other positive changes. Many have no idea they could live in a little less pain, so their first moments after a first class can be profound.
We are all faced with challenges through life. Some challenges seem to stay with us no matter how hard we try to overcome them. Because many symptoms related to trauma can take 6 months to 2 years to develop, people don’t often connect the symptoms to their origin. Many have observed a magnetic loop that draws us back into familiar patterns, or lessons we have to learn again and again through similar situations over time. Trauma is an experience for which we lack tools or resources to handle, process, assimilate, or digest. Unless we learn to develop our internal resources to process and release what no longer serves us, we continue in this relentless cycle.
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