Releasing trauma through movement

by yogalife_user
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Cassie Mather-Reid is a Holistic Life Coach who offers a unique mix of physical, energetic, and emotional techniques. Much of her work focuses on how we hold trauma in the body and how to overcome limiting beliefs. By addressing both the belief system and the energy system together, Cassie works on a deeply personal level to help clients move forward, live their purpose, and create real change. Read on to know more.

We know how clever the brain is at sending messages around the body, but there are so many other ways our bodies are trying to communicate with us. Taking some time to listen in to the whispers it’s sending can help you unblock many things holding you back, such as limiting beliefs, self-worth issues, a heightened sense of agitation, and not feeling like you have any stability. These are all potential signs that a past experience has created a trauma response.

The amygdala (the part of the brain that governs decision-making, emotional responses, and processes memory) sends a danger signal to the body when it perceives a threat. The body’s response happens in the sympathetic nervous system, where your fight or flight response gets activated. This physiological reaction is there to protect us, and is a common occurrence in everyday life. However, when trauma is present at a cellular level, the fight or flight response doesn’t know how to calm down after the perceived threat disappears. As a result, the body stays in a state of alert.

The physical burden of trauma

Unresolved trauma, and the subsequent feeling of being under siege, can affect the body in various ways, be it physical symptoms, natural rhythms like your sleep pattern, emotional responses, problems with the immune system, or rigid muscles. And the impact can range from very subtle to debilitating.

If the experience that caused the trauma response is not understood, and given an opportunity to heal, different symptoms may present themselves to you. Some of the lesser symptoms could be headaches, back pain, tightness in the hips, menstrual or digestive issues, while more complex repercussions could be things like allergies, immune disorders, or chronic fatigue.

Muscle memory can be impacted when you have trauma present in the body. You may feel tension or tightness down the neck and shoulders. The shoulders may round, creating problems in the shoulders and chest. As one muscle goes into an overstretch, the other is forced to constrict and tighten. Often people notice they have little to no flexibility in the hips; the muscles are rigid. This inflexibility can also affect the back, knees, ankles, and feet. Because many of our muscles are interconnected, they step in to compensate when another isn’t functioning optimally, creating a ricochet of issues and further discomfort with the other connecting muscles.

The role of exercise

Exercise as part of a practice to help heal trauma is highly effective. Firstly, movement is an excellent way of connecting back into the body, alleviating the tension and tightness caused by a hypervigilant nervous system triggered by trauma. It allows us to connect to what’s happening internally and then release the energy associated with trauma stored in the body. We can also create space in the mind where previously the brain may have continually been assessing the risk of danger, leaving you in a state of over-drive.

A crucial point to remember is that being gentle with yourself and noticing what your body is trying to tell you as you move is vital. This is never about trying to punish the body or pushing it beyond the point of pain.

Making small movements, connecting with each body part slowly, and observing the different feelings will all help you connect and gradually notice any areas that may need more help. This is why yoga, and certain poses in particular, is beneficial for re-balancing the nervous system. For some people, five minutes of small conscious movement may be enough and others may be able to stay present and connected for longer. This is a real opportunity to see how you can develop a practice that works for you. My motto on the yoga mat is “no pressure, no judgement, your time, your space”

Movement can be a crucial part of your healing journey, and looking at life holistically, incorporating mind, body, and energy is transformative.

A few things to remember:

  • Movement, even through the breath, reveals a lot about how you may be feeling or where you’re holding tension.
  • Let your body communicate with you as you move.
  • Let the movement send the messages and listen in.
  • Breathing into the abdomen is a great way of noticing and releasing tension, creating space in the mind, and calming down the heart rate.

Cassie Mather-Reid

“We all carry the expectations of others and the burden of our past. It’s easy to become stuck either personally or professionally, but there is a way to heal and enable yourself to thrive.”

After an 18-year career in corporate IT, during which she became a mum to twin girls, Cassie recognised that she was feeling lost and unfulfilled. That’s when she chose to take a different path, starting with healing her own trauma, discovering her goals and learning to live in alignment. Cassie is an accredited IPHM Therapist with the Heal & Thrive Method, a Reiki practitioner, and a qualified Yoga Teacher specialising in trauma-sensitive practice and women’s wellness. She has lived in the UK, Canada and Dubai.

Her individual coaching sessions involve talk therapy, exploring the client’s current situation, where they want to be, and what might be holding them back. Meditation and grounding are also incorporated if appropriate.

During an energy session, she sees where energy is held in someone’s body and where memories or distress are stored at a cellular level, causing physical and emotional consequences. Cassie then works with the client to clear anything that is ready to be released and rebalance their energy. Depending on the individual, physical activity or movement might also be recommended to facilitate the release of blocked energy.


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