Yoga is a physical practice of moving the body into specific postures that help encourage peace, harmony, and balance of the mind, body, and spirit. While the postures themselves do make up the core of this ancient technique, the real goal is to improve overall wellness by improving the mind-body connection. This usually involves gentle exercise, paying attention to sensations and feelings, controlling the breath, and learning to stay focused and in the moment.

Trauma-informed yoga is the same, but with a few structural differences aimed at addressing the special needs of people healing from difficult experiences. This includes those with PTSD, C-PTSD, or a history of abuse. They may subconsciously sever or limit the mind-body connection. This can be lifesaving in the moment, but eventually limits the ability to heal and grow. Yoga improves the connection once again, but often brings up intense or difficult emotions and sensations.

When we say that yoga is “trauma focused,” what we really mean is that leaders uphold the value of compassion and patience while also having the courage to let people experience body awareness as it happens. This may mean addressing difficult emotions on the spot, talking someone through intense anxiety, or even just holding space for someone while they work through difficult memories.