top of page

About book "The Body Keeps the Score", psychosomatics and yoga

I want to share an amazing book with you. I am still in the process of reading it, but I am ready to give some of my thoughts. The book is called "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk. The author is a psychiatrist who has been researching PTSD for almost 50 years and is the head of the Trauma Research Foundation in Massachusetts.

книга Тело помнит все Бессел ван дер Колка

It is interesting that it was recommended to me almost simultaneously by a psychologist I know and a friend who is a yoga and meditation teacher.

I have long noticed that the methods used by psychotherapy and yoga to solve different psychosomatic problems often overlap.

So, my friend, a yoga teacher, Alyona recently in a conversation touched upon an interesting topic: how sometimes it turns out that some foods or dishes we have pleasant memories and we eat them with pleasure, and some on the contrary - disgust or even allergies and intolerance. I, by the way, have this with porridge, milk and pea soup, because they are associated with the food in kindergarten, where we were forced to eat them all by force.

Alyona: Try to remember something pleasant from your childhood that plunges you into a state of calm and safety. For example, the smell of your mother's perfume or carpenter's glue after your father's hobby, or the taste of pies made by your favourite grandmother.

Our brain does not remember one thing, it always records the whole picture: a place, its characteristics, colours, sounds, smells, tastes. The brain connects all the elements by neural circuits.

Faced with one of the puzzles of that picture, our brain picks up the emotional reaction we were experiencing at that moment.

But just as this happens with pleasant moments, in the same way it happens with unpleasant ones.

A kindergarten teacher scolded you while you were eating soup - congratulations: soup will forever evoke the same feeling in your nervous system as the attitude of this teacher.

You ate fish, and at the same time witnessed a conflict between parents - every time you eat fish, your nervous system will react to it as to a conflict between parents

And the greater the impact of the psychotrauma, the more all the elements of this recorded picture will have a negative impact on the organism.

Sometimes the negative situation itself is not too traumatic, but it occurs regularly, such as stress at work. In this case, each impact is insignificant, but these impacts accumulate layer by layer in our nervous system, eventually leading to the accumulation of a sufficiently strong level of irritant signal.

And this, among other things, is one of the mechanisms that cause food allergies and intolerance to certain foods.

Yes, you can avoid these foods, you can take food supplements to compensate for the negative reaction, but, nevertheless, this reaction always sits in our brain. It impairs the nervous system, the digestive system, leads to nutrient deficiencies and through inflammatory processes in the digestive system and deficiencies can lead to more complex systemic diseases.

Me: What can be done about it?

Alyona: Neurobiologists are conducting studies on mice, but these studies are very complex, very precise, when each neuron is marked, each impact is carried out by electrical impulses, and through this information is overwritten.

It is clear that so far this method cannot be applied not only on a mass scale, but even on an individual human being with his complex system of forming reactions to the environment.

Nevertheless, both Buddhism and yoga have been using meditative practices that can solve these problems for thousands of years.

Now what Bessel van der Kolk says about it in his book: "Yoga, which combines breathing exercises, changing postures (asanas) and meditation, helps with the main difficulty in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) - teaching the body to relax. The person focuses on what is happening inside him when doing a particular asana, as well as deep breathing. He begins to experiment with his sensations. Will the tension in the shoulder go away if you take a deep breath? Will one get a sense of peace by concentrating on the exhalation?

The point of yoga is to look inside yourself. In essence, yoga teaches that even the most unpleasant sensation sooner or later reaches a peak and then subsides. This understanding helps treat the emotional pain associated with trauma in the same way. And ultimately gets rid of it."

I would like to point out that there are a few chapters devoted to yoga in the book. After all, the author is a psychiatrist who studies PTSD and uses various methods to treat people with post-trauma. His patients are people who have suffered from domestic violence, the horrors of war, other people's cruelty and indifference.

Through their stories, Dr Bessel shows how many different healing practices are available to overcome the condition, from meditation, yoga and sports to theatre classes.


bottom of page