Childhood Trauma: A Yogic Perspective

According to yoga, adverse effects of childhood trauma can be best explained by examining our human experiences through the five layers of our body. These five layers are called koshas and make up what is known as the subtle body. The physical body (or layer), is called the Anamaya kosha, sometimes referred to as the “food body” because it’s made up of all the food we eat. It’s the most dense or coarse energetic layer. The physical body can be thought of as the final result of a series of vibrational condensations – and the manifestation of all the layers that came before it, including the emotional, mental and causal bodies.

At the deepest layer of our consciousness is the Anandamaya kosha, or the bliss body or sheath, and the home of our true nature and pure consciousness itself. What’s held at the subtle or causal level of the bliss body affects all the bodies (or layers) and will move an individual in a particular way. All of our human experiences move in, through, and out of this body / mind complex. We are energetic beings, after all.

There are times, especially when we are children, when our human experiences move in to our body / mind complex – but, due to our ignorance, they get stuck – and instead of moving through and out, we draw conclusions on how these experiences relate to the self. Much like attachment or core wounds, these conclusions can easily become impressions held (or frozen) at the level of the bliss body.

As children, we are constantly learning and developing. If we’re being raised in an unsafe environment, exposed to violence, addiction, mental illness, neglect, abandonment, or poverty, we’ll naturally and innocently draw conclusions based on the illusion of these human experiences. These conclusions, unresolved, go on to affect all of the other bodies, becoming the foundation of our core beliefs, eventually manifesting in our physical reality, and in our body.

From my experience, anchoring a regular meditation practice has been key to recognizing and healing “stuck” impressions, allowing me to process the traumas I experienced as a small child, as well as new mental impressions carried or formed as an adult. I currently practice meditation and breathing exercises, twice daily. This may sound like a big commitment, but it’s a practice I look forward to. Meditation allows me to move in, through, and out of this body / mind complex without expectations, creating “a new body” that responds effectively and creatively to the stresses of this human experience.

Sandra Leigh