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Trauma-Informed Yoga-How it Heals, Benefits, and Poses to Try

Crystal Fuller

We have all heard about yoga and its many types, why now there is even what is called goat yoga! But did you know there is a type of yoga specifically designed for those who have experienced trauma?

How is trauma-informed yoga different than regular yoga?

A non-threatening environment is created to make the individual feel comfortable. It’s typical in yoga to have one close their eyes. However, this may make a trauma survivor feel unsafe. Instead, they are asked to look down or lower their eyes.

Group members will not be asked to sit in a circle. That way they will not feel like someone is always looking at them.

The instructor has a constant awareness of the participants. If someone looks anxious during a certain pose, they will move quickly to a different position.

Healing and Benefits

After a traumatic event, our thoughts and emotions tend to be all over the place. Trauma-informed yoga redirects your brain to focus on what is happening in your body in that one moment. Focusing on your breaths is key to achieving this redirection.

A study was conducted that was able to show the positive effects trauma-informed yoga had on those with PTSD. In this research 31 women with PTSD participated in trauma-informed yoga sessions. The results of the study showed that 16 of the 31 participants no longer showed symptoms of PTSD after all sessions were completed (van der Kolk et al., 2014).

Poses to Try

  • Feet are hip-width apart and the chest is lifted

  • Arms are hanging to your side with palms are facing outward

  • Push your feet into the ground and stretch your head upward

  • Feel that you have the strength of a mountain

  • Deep inhale

  • Exhale through your feet and head

  • Inhale, make fists with hands

  • Exhale as you release your fists; open palms wider

  • Inhale and exhale again

  • Be still; focus on breath and movement in your body

  • Feet wide apart

  • Inhale; pull arms up to shoulder height

  • Exhale; stretch fingers into the distance

  • Inhale; turn right foot out and left foot in slightly

  • Exhale; bend right knee over the ankle

  • Inhale; reach arms down and then up to frame ears stretching fingers to the sky

  • Square hips

  • Inhale and exhale three times

  • Inhale; straighten right leg

  • Feet come back to being wide apart

  • Focus on breathing

  • Repeat with left side

There are a wide variety of other poses. Feel free to look at them here.


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