Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

“Our relationship to our own body is often one great casualty of trauma.”  “Learning to tolerate and be curious about dreaded physical sensations gives people a sense of mastery. The visceral experience of mastery, involving emotions and sensations, provides new resources, energy, and the capacity to take effective action. Somatic experiencing, with an intuitive knowledge that there is a natural flow in and out of emotions, opens up an appetite for even deeper experiencing. . . Yoga is part of the overall healing process . . . ” In the book Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga – YouTube , the authors, Emerson & Hopper, offer guidance for developing a trauma-sensitive yoga practice — a gentle, step-by-step, mindful yoga — that can be done in the safety of one’s own home.   “We view trauma-sensitive yoga as a way to make peace with your body, to learn through experience that your body can be effective again, and to reclaim your body as your own. . . the lessoons learned through trauma-sensitive yoga can translate into a more generalized acceptance of, and trust in, one’s own self.

Trauma-sensitive yoga classes are designed to offer students support for 4 key elements in trauma recovery:                                                                                                                       Experiencing the present moment                                                                                 Making choices                                                                                                                       Taking effective action                                                                                                             Creating rhythms

While I have offered clients mindfulness-based yoga for many years, my introduction to yoga specific for trauma was from Bessel van der Kolk when he and Peter Levine were teaching at Esalen in 2009. Dr. vdK is founder and medical director of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute Their yoga services program can be found at .  Yoga for Trauma, cited above, and manuals for clinicians and yoga teachers are available at this site. (See bibliography, below)

In Sept. 2011 I took Deborah Kelly’s workshop, Yoga and Trauma. See the class flier at 25-pdf.  Deborah is a wonderful yoga teacher and interactive, depth-oriented therapist in Monterey, California: . She has also studied with Dr. van der Kolk. You can find out when she offers this half-day training again by contacting Yoga Center of Carmel,

I offered to host the handouts from that training on this website. These are the ones she gave at the seminar:                                                                                                           Reclaiming Your Body: Yoga and Trauma: reclaiming-your-body-yoga-and-trauma Bibliography/resources: bibliography-yoga-trauma .      .          .          .       .       .       .       .     Energy rebalancing sequence energy-rebalancing .      .          .          .       .       .       .       .

Here are the mudras: . (Thanks to Joseph LePage, whose Yoga Therapy training both Deborah and I have taken.)

Circle Yoga Center in D.C. did a good job explaining the benefits of yoga as they relate to trauma/stress physiology: .