Trauma Sensitive Yoga

Yoga is a way for people to more fully experience themselves. It is an ancient practice that encourages a person’s experiencing of his/her body and the mental, emotional, and spiritual experiences that go along with it. By practicing certain specific body positions, yoga puts people more fully in touch with themselves. Similarly, trauma sensitive yoga helps people become more in touch with their bodies and themselves. However, it is somewhat modified, focusing more on a practitioner’s sense of choice.

Since trauma is usually accompanied by a lack of choice, when trauma sensitive yoga encourages a person to experience his/her body, it also encourages choice. In trauma sensitive yoga, people are free to do or to not do a suggested position. They may choose to strive for the ideal position or to be pleased with its approximations. They may choose how much energy to devote to the position and how long to hold it. They may choose what they notice or not notice about their bodies. They may or may not choose to attend to the thoughts and feelings that can accompany a position.

Trauma makes people feel powerless in mind and body. Trauma sensitive yoga helps people make friends with their bodies in a way that enhances a sense of choice and power.


Emerson, D. (2015) Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy: Bringing the Body Into Treatment, W. W. Norton and Company, New York

Emerson, D. and Hopper E. (2011) Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley.

Van Der Kolk, B. (2014) The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Penguin Group, New York.