What is Trauma-Responsive Yoga?

Trauma-Responsive Yoga is derived from Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TSY), which is an emerging evidenced-based practice developed by the Justice Resources Institute in Boston, MA. TSY uses a modified approach to the traditional Hatha Yoga (or studio yoga) that emphasizes practices that promote safety, the minimization of triggers, and mind-body awareness. For example, instructors may use language that gives participants autonomy and choice such as when to engage in a specific movement or activity (e.g., “when you feel ready, and as much as you are able, try shifting your weight to your left leg”). To minimize the potential for hyper-arousal, dissociation, and/or re-traumatization, instructor corrections, which often require touch—a common practice in many yoga studios—is discouraged as it may be triggering for those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or histories of trauma. In addition, TSY classes are typically single gendered and class attendance is recommended to be 10 participants or less, all of which helps to promote a sense of safety and a more personal and intimate experience. The movements, breath work, and overall aim of TSY primarily center on becoming more aware and accepting of one’s body. This contrasts with other types of yoga, where the primary aim may be reaching specific levels of flexibility or obtaining an optimal workout (see https://www.traumasensitiveyoga.com/) 


Trauma-Responsive Yoga is based on the TSY framework and approach, and included additional concepts and practices based on:

  • The latest research regarding the effects of trauma and stress on the brain and body, along with cognitive, emotional, and somatic effects and behaviors. 

  • The latest research regarding the impact of social engagement in activity and movement-based practices on physical and mental health functioning.

  • Clinically-informed best practice approaches for working with highly traumatized and maltreated populations.

Testimonials

"The Trauma Responsive Yoga training provided by Dr. Vasquez and Traci Ludwig was excellent.  I had secretly been interested in doing a trauma yoga related training for some time but was not ready to dive into months or years of training yet. I was very excited to see this opportunity. As someone who has done a good bit of trauma training previous to this training, I learned several new things from the educational portion of the training that have been helpful generally in my clinical work with clients.   I appreciated the hands on practice offered during the training and the additional online support afterwards.  As a clinician who is not certified in yoga instruction, I felt nervous going in about my ability to lead others in practice, but left feeling confident in my ability to do so.  Since completing the training, I've been able to offer Trauma Responsive Yoga sessions to college students on the campus I work at.  It's also helped to reinforce my own personal yoga practice as a form of self care."  - Bobby-Jo Molokken, LISW, IADC, CCTP, Luther College Counseling Service