Using yoga to heal trauma

 MEDFORD, Ore. – Most people deal with some level of trauma in their life. Now, some are turning to an alternative practice to heal their pain.

Mariane Ballete, the manager of Rasa Yoga Center, said her life began to unravel 11 years ago because of two deaths in her family. “One of the big losses of my life was when I lost my twins over 11 years ago and it spiraled me to want to move out of my life,” Ballete said.

It’s a feeling of hopelessness that is all too common. “I think about it all the time,” Ballete explained. “I had a loss in my family, the last couple of years through suicide, and it has brought it to a fore, and I also see nearly on the daily basis the challenges that many people come to our studio dealing with.”

According to the Oregon Health Authority, on average, two Oregonians die by suicide every day and the rates of suicide in Oregon have been higher than the national average over the past 30 years. “The statistics are shocking,” Ballete said.

It is a feeling that can make anyone want to disappear. “All I could do is want to pull the wool over my eyes and not engage in the world and not be in the world and it wasn’t until a yoga class that I could finally breathe again,” Ballete said.

For Ballete, staying present with her body and focusing on her breath helped change her outlook. “There is a certain psychology to breathing practices there is an anatomical aspect to it with the expanding and contracting it helps to detoxify our blood,” Ballete said.

Dr. Jim Shames with Jackson County Public Health agrees. “To focus on natural processes within your body and to take the focus away from fears, unnatural fears… things that are historically anxiety producing and focusing on the here and now, focusing on things you can control rather than what you can’t that is definitely beneficial,” Dr. Shames said.

It’s a skill that Ballete now uses in her everyday life. “When traumatic things happen to people when traumatic things blind us how do we react and if we are breathing deeply and come to it with more awareness than we can digest those things more healthy,” Ballete said.

If you or someone you know is going through a mental health crisis, help is available. You can call the National Suicide Prevent Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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