TRAUMA SENSITIVE YOGA (TSY, TC-TSY AND TCTSY)
Trauma and adversity is when we experience or witness a deeply distressing and disturbing event or series of events. When seeking resolution, talk-therapy alone is often not an option. It can feel impossible to put the memory of the event(s) into words. Instead, the memory may be recalled as a series of disjointed visual snapshots, sensory cues, and feelings.
Being able to describe one's inner reality can become difficult and agonizing. However, this is not a mental block, it is physical.
Our body can often remain in a fight-or-flight response long after the event. The disjointed physical feelings associated with a trauma memory can also be frightening. As a result, we often develop a sense of alienation and disassociation from our bodies. This can not only reduce our capacity to feel what is happening in the present moment but also communicate what is happening in the hear and now.
However, our sense of self is dependent on language. We use it to organise our memories into a coherent whole. This requires a functioning connection between the conscious brain and feelings in the body.
What to expect in our classes and courses
Our yoga sessions are designed to provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment to enable participants to practice experiencing sensations in their body. We will have the opportunity to practice gentle and accessible yogic techniques including stretching, strengthening, and breathing. This is an invitational style of practice; choices are offered and each participant is in control of the pace of their own practice.
Our classes differ from regular yoga classes in that the facilitator (Kathie) does not move around the room or offer physical adjustments. The practice includes invitational language, non-coercion, choice making, interoception, and shared authentic experience.
Each student will have the option to fill in an intake form prior to attending their first class so that we can support their individual needs. We appreciate that this can often be challenging, so participants are welcome to fill out as much or as little of the form as they feel comfortable. At no time will students be asked to talk about their trauma or the nature of their trauma.
History of Trauma Sensitive Yoga
Trauma sensitive yoga as taught through the Trauma Center (recently re-branded as the Center for Trauma & Embodiment) at the Justice Resource Institute in Massachusetts (USA) is an empirically validated, evidence-based, form of trauma sensitive yoga for people of all ages. This form of trauma sensitive yoga is based on trauma theory, attachment theory, neuroscience, and hatha yoga.
Trauma sensitive yoga begun with the work of David Emerson, in clinical collaboration with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and several other eminent trauma clinicians and yoga teachers in the early 2000s. Together they worked to develop a method of teaching yoga that would be of benefit for those that have experience psychological trauma. The positive neurophysiological and behavioural outcomes have now been replicated across a number of studies.
The trauma sensitive yoga (TSY) program and protocol was re-named as Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TC-TSY or TCTSY), to preserve the integrity of the program, it's evidence-base, and to maintain the professional level of facilitators of the TCTSY program. TCTSY was the first yoga program worldwide listed as an evidence-based treatment for psychological trauma with SAMHSA-NREPP.
TCTSY International site:
TCTSY Australian site:
Key research references:
van der Kolk B.A., Stone, L., West, J., Rhdoes, A., Emerson, D., Suvak, M., Sinazzola, J. (2014) Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry Jun;75(6):e559-65
Rhodes, A., Spinozzola, J., van der Kolk, B. (2016) Yoga for Adult Women with Chronic PTSD: A Long-Term Follow-Up Study. J Altern Complement Med. Mar;22(3):189-96. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0407
Price, M., Spinazzola, J., Musicaro, R., Turner, J., Suvak, M., Emerson, D., van der Kolk B (2017) Effectiveness of an Extended Yoga Treatment for Women with Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. J Altern Complement Med. Apr;23(4):300-309. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0266
Emerson, D., & Hopper, E., (2011) Overcoming Trauma through Yoga. Berkeley, California. North Atlantic Books
Emerson, D., (2015) Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy: Bringing the Body into Treatment. New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Herman, J. (1992) Trauma and Recovery. The aftermath of violence from domestic abuse to political terror. New York. Basic Books.
van der Kolk, B., (2015) The Body Keeps the Score. Mind, Brain and Body in Transformation of Trauma. Great Britain. Penguin Books.