Trauma-Sensitive Yoga: Heightening The Mind-Body Connection

The primary goal of most yoga classes is to move through a series of poses designed to improve your health and well-being. For trauma survivors, however, yoga can be used as a medium for healing psychological and emotional scars. If you're a yoga practitioner or trauma survivor, here are some of the ways that trauma-sensitive yoga can help deliver lasting relief from trauma symptoms.


The primary goal of trauma-sensitive yoga is mindfulness. Developing a heightened connection between a trauma survivor's mind and body can restore their confidence and autonomy.

  • Meditation: Although most yoga classes begin and end with a series of breathing exercises, trauma-sensitive yoga classes will sometimes only focus on these breathing exercises. This feature can make trauma-sensitive yoga classes adapted to trauma survivors' serious physical limitations.

Survivor Directed

Another key distinction between trauma-sensitive and regular yoga classes is leadership. In most regular yoga classes, the instructor demonstrates poses at the front of the classes and controls the progression of the course.

  • Self-Directed: Victims of trauma can be left feeling powerless. Trauma-sensitive yoga courses acknowledge each survivor's right to control their movements and pace. For instance, in a trauma-sensitive yoga course, an instructor might begin the class by quickly demonstrating a series of yoga poses and mindfulness techniques, before allowing students to move through the poses independently. Because the instructor can offer assistance as needed, students will feel supported, but also independent.

Safe Space

Because trauma survivors can have difficulty turning off their fight or flight instincts, creating a safe space for them is a critical component of the therapeutic process.

  • Vibrant and Open: Many yoga studios are monastic spaces. Trauma sensitive yoga studios, however, tend to be vibrantly light and very open. These naturally lit, open-concept spaces can help put trauma survivors at ease. Some trauma-sensitive studios will also offer courses in outdoor spaces, which can be particularly soothing and relaxing. For instance, conducting a trauma-sensitive course in a park or a quiet stretch of beach can be a novel way to safely expose trauma survivors to their environment.
  • Spatial Sensitivity: Another important feature of trauma-sensitive yoga courses is an increased attention to the spatial orientation between students and teachers. Unlike traditional yoga courses that often try to cram as many students into a space as possible, most trauma-sensitive yoga courses are more intimate affairs, with smaller class sizes and more space allocated to each student.

For more information, contact a studio that offers trauma-sensitive yoga classes.