How Yoga Can Heal Trauma And Strengthen Attachment


September is National Yoga Month. Many studies confirm yoga is an effective option for healing trauma and reducing anxiety. All children who have been adopted have experienced some level of trauma, if only due to their separation from their biological families. Attending a parent/child yoga class with your adopted child could result in many benefits for each of you, as well as the relationship between you.

When any of us feels fundamentally unsafe, our bodies prepare to either fight, flee, or freeze. These reactions disconnect conscious awareness of the physical world, including our own bodies. Protecting ourselves from particular types of trauma, like sexual abuse, can increase our disconnect from our physical selves and damage our ability to enjoy being in our bodies.

Adopted children may also struggle with mastering certain physical developmental stages, up to and including sensory processing problems. Yoga consists of repetitive physical movements in a relaxed and soothing environment and state of mind. Because of the nature of yoga, it may be beneficial to helping adopted children “catch up” developmentally. Many yoga instructors feel that yoga for babies and children contributes to the physical, emotional, and mental development of the child because of yoga’s attention to coordination, breath, alignment and balance.

Often children who have been adopted struggle with success in school. Research has also shown yoga may help children focus better in school and improve their ability to concentrate. Yoga also focuses on paying attention to our internal experience, rather than comparing ourselves to others. Strengthening your child’s inner spiritual core while strengthening their body may also help an adopted child find ways to feel more grounded and safe throughout their day. According to Brooke Randolph, Director of Adoption Preparation and Education, “perhaps more than other forms of exercise, yoga encourages body awareness and connection. All of these aspects of yoga can be very healing.”

Participating in parent/child or “Mommy and Me” yoga classes may have the added benefit of strengthening the attachment between you and your child. In order for a child to form an attachment, they must feel calm and safe. A yoga class creates the ideal environment for the child’s mind to form an attachment, through the contemplative and serene atmosphere they create. In addition, parent and child classes encourage the parent to help guide the child into the various poses, creating a unique opportunity to allow your child to experiment with trusting you in a low-risk environment.

Baby yoga and yoga for kids allow children of all ages to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Babies as young as five months old can do a bridge posture. Participating in the class with your child provides an opportunity to experience breathing with them, keeping them in close physical contact, using a soothing voice with them, and sustaining eye contact.

We hope you can find a yoga class to enjoy with your child. Or consider attending a class with your partner to strengthen your relationship and help you cope with the stress of waiting for your adoption to be completed. You may find yoga opens you to new opportunities for your own healing.

Photo Credit: Axel Buhrmann

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.