Help Yourself: Yoga Techniques to Soothe Your Nervous System (PTSD, Anxiety, BPD)
Even those who do not suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder or emotion regulation issues will likely benefit from this post. It has to do with a method of helping yourself when you’re feeling stressed and tense, especially on a muscular level. When it comes to feeling unbalanced emotionally, there is almost always a physical component happening at the same time, and this is often in the form of tight, painful muscles.
I have been told in the past by my DBT therapist to start someplace to begin the unwinding of your nervous system. This can be by focusing on breathing, sitting calmly, or working to remove muscular tension. Starting at any of these places can help to bring anxiety down and get us back to baseline.
While it’s a wonderful experience to receive bodywork from a professional massage therapist, we can’t all afford this on a regular basis. So, when this is the case, what can we do to effectively work on those tight and tense areas of the body that tend to show up when we are feeling anxious or stressed out?
In yoga class recently, I was introduced to something that, although I was initially skeptical, actually helped me feel much better. I used them again last night on my own when I noticed I was having neck and shoulder tension and pain, and I felt so much better that I decided it was time to share this with you, my dear readers. The tool is called “YogaTune Up® Therapy Balls.”
Here is what mine look like:
If you can’t afford or access these, I’ve read in different places that people have swapped them out with tennis balls or with those inexpensive pink rubber bouncy balls — but my yoga teacher warned that these are not as effective as they do not have the same outside texture as the Yoga Tune Up balls. These have a suede-like finish that feels good against the skin and helps them to slip less.
As far as my experience at home, I mentioned to my yoga teacher the next day how surprised I was that I felt so much better after using these. She said, “I’m not, honey. It works on your nervous system.”
I wondered the best way to describe to you how to use them when I came upon this excellent video on YouTube. As with any practice that involves your body, please do check with your doctor before trying any of the exercises.
It is so important that we find and take the time to take care of ourselves in ways that support us in feeling balanced. I did a number of the exercises demonstrated in this video and went to bed literally feeling as if I had just had a massage. It was that good and effective.
Have you tried the YogaTune up balls? Do you have something else that you use?
This looks very strange, I know, but it is actually also really helpful. I found it in a Japanese store called Daiso. It helps me to reach those muscles between the scapula.
If you don’t have the balls, here are some yoga positions that I’ve done that have helped with anxiety and stress, and you need few to no props. Just a reminder to always check with your doctor before starting any new movement or exercise program, including yoga, the tune up balls, and any props.
Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Can you identify any DBT skills that you’d be using by engaging in this type of self-care?
Thank you for reading.
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