Trauma Sensitive Yoga

Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY) is a form of therapy designed to support those dealing with complex trauma and post traumatic stress disorder, often in conjunction with conventional talk therapies.
For many, living in the body post trauma is an incredibly difficult experience. At the time of a traumatic event, the sympathetic nervous system is activated and sends the body into a fight, flight, freeze, flood or faint response. The body enters this state automatically, as a survival response, and it is not until after the traumatic event that there is time to process the stress that has occurred in the body. For some, these events are not fully processed leaving emotional and bodily stress trapped in the autonomic nervous system. As a result, the body continues to respond as though it is still under stress, overriding the survivors natural ability to self regulate and constantly draining a person's capacity for agency.
TSY provides a safe environment for trauma survivors to explore choice and empowerment in their body. The practice uses a completely hands-off approach based on the components of hatha yoga, offering an exploration of the internal experience by gently drawing awareness to sensations within the body. The focus is on choice making that is informed by the felt senses. Participants are guided throughout the practice to honour their personal needs and boundaries, helping to restore a sense of agency and cultivate a more positive relationship with their mind and body.
Trauma Sensitive Yoga supports survivors to:
• Feel empowered through choice and invitational practice
• Explore bodily sensation with a sense of agency
• Increase spatial awareness and attune to the felt experience
• Bring their awareness into the present moment
• Soothe and self regulate the nervous system
• Induce positive feelings within the body through mindfulness and movement
• Restore connection of mind and body

Professional Associations
Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga is the Internationally recognised body for TSY co-founded by Jenn Turner and Dave Emmerson. The program was developed at the Center for Trauma and Embodiment at Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, Massachusetts. This evidence-based program has foundations in trauma theory, attachment theory and neuroscience and is based on hatha yoga with an emphasis on physical yoga shapes and breathing practices.
Trauma Sensitive Yoga Australia (now closed).

Related Texts
When the Body Says No - Dr Gabor Mate, 2019
Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body - Dave Emmerson, 2011
Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy: Bringing the Body into Treatment - Dave Emmerson, 2015

Article written by Claire South