Trauma-Sensitive Yoga - Counseling & Therapy Services - The Juniper Center

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

It’s no secret that yoga has a profoundly positive impact on the body. Furthermore, yoga is proven to calm the mind. Research continues to validate the power of yoga as a means to help improve various physical conditions such as hypertension, pain, and insomnia. Additionally, there’s growing evidence that yoga, specifically trauma-sensitive yoga, when taught by specially trained individuals and employed in a therapeutic context, can be used as a powerful tool of healing and empowerment for people who have experienced trauma.

At The Juniper Center, we are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones heal from trauma.

What is Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

The term trauma-sensitive yoga was coined by David Emerson, E-RYT, founder and director of yoga services at the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brookline, MA, to describe the use of yoga as an adjunctive treatment within a clinical context. The practice of trauma-sensitive yoga aims to help individuals regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination, and improve self-regulation.

The goal of trauma-sensitive therapy is not to access emotions or memories associated with the source of trauma, but rather is designed to help individuals heighten their body awareness. Trauma-sensitive yoga allows participants to recognize and understand what is happening inside their bodies. In a therapeutic context, it teaches participants how to release tension, reduce and control fear and arousal, and to tolerate sensation.

How does Trauma Impact the Brain?

Trauma-sensitive yoga is based on the growing understanding that trauma takes a substantial toll on the body and the brain. When the body absorbs and anticipates trauma, individuals may experience hyperarousal, hypervigilance, and an inability to calm themselves. At the same time, their bodies respond by disassociating from trigger-sensitive experiences and sensations.

How trauma affects the brain has been the focus of trauma research in the last decade. Neuroscientific research reveals that the brain is more resilient than we previously thought. Our brains have the capacity to change from trauma and to change from interventions that are directed at treating that trauma. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to change and regenerate in areas where activity has been weakened by physiological stress and psychological stress. Trauma is complex and the treatments need to account for this complexity to facilitate a survivor’s ability to feel alive and move forward in their life.

Trauma-sensitive yoga helps individuals learn how to calm their minds and regulate their physical responses and, ultimately, their emotions. Through yoga, they can recognize and tolerate physical sensations, and over time they regain a feeling of safety inside their bodies.

The Juniper Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga

Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) at The Juniper Center is a specific intervention designed to treat people who have a history of complex trauma. Our intervention treatment program was designed by yoga teachers and trauma experts at The Trauma Center in Brookline, MA, under the leadership of Bessel Van Der MD, an expert in all forms of human psychological trauma. 

Through the use of a gently guided movement practice with a trained facilitator, trauma-sensitive yoga is based on a combination of neuroscience, attachment theory, and trauma theory. As an evidence-supported therapeutic intervention, trauma-sensitive yoga has been accepted for inclusion in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) database published by SAMHSA.

What to expect in a Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Session at The Juniper Center

  • Please wear comfortable clothing that allows for movement and flexibility.
  • You and the facilitator will engage in movement together.
  • Movements are gentle and simple. Movements can be completed from a chair or a yoga mat.
  • Participants do not require any prior experience with yoga, exercise, or breathwork.
  • You may talk to your yoga instructor and ask questions at any time.
  • During your yoga session, it is not necessary to discuss past history of trauma (unless you feel it is necessary or helpful to you).

Compassionate Care in a Judgement Free Environment

What matters to you, matters to us. At The Juniper Center, we’re passionate about empowering our clients with the tools and solutions they need to enhance their lives and improve their mental health. With a diverse family of practitioners, our team of mental health professionals leverages their extensive experience and training to create individualized treatment plans to help our clients reach their professional, personal, and mental health goals. 

We’re here to help you find the best path forward as you write the next chapter of your life. Contact a member of our team to schedule your no-obligation consultation today. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you on your journey. 

Learn more about our TCTSY therapist, Margaret Berger.

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