Research suggests that while Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) remains the gold standard for treating trauma, it may not address idiosyncrasies of the disorder, particularly in individuals who have experienced interpersonal trauma (Nolan, 2016). A new type of yoga called Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY) is designed to help address re-experiencing symptoms through grounding practices that focus on the here and now. A common type of interpersonal trauma is intimate partner violence which is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse (Nolan, 2016). TSY was designed to create a welcoming environment that reduces triggers in traumatized individuals such as vulnerability and reduced safety with modifications such as the option to leave eyes open during final relaxation pose (savasana) and no “adjustments” or corrections permitted by instructor. TSY is designed to put individuals in touch with their bodies in a compassionate way. The article “Bending without breaking: A narrative review of trauma-sensitive yoga for women with PTSD” compared numerous studies (two randomized controlled trials (RCTs), one quasi-experimental study, and one qualitative study, that analyzed reduction of PTSD symptomology in females ages 20-45. Results of the studies indicate tentative support for use of TSY in women with trauma, specifically interpersonal trauma (Nolan, 2016). Some benefits of TSY that women reported include feasibility of practice, felt sense of safety and control, and healing for PTSD that is not responsive to typical therapies (Nolan, 2016). Future research could include larger-scale, rigorous studies, and more diverse populations with larger samples. Locations in the Philadelphia area that offer modifications of TSY include Transformation Yoga for Recovery and individual practitioners trained by the Trauma Center in Brookline, Mass.
Author: Nora Brier, M.A.
“Bending without breaking: A narrative review of trauma-sensitive yoga for women with PTSD”. (2016). Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 24, 32-40.