Trauma Sensitive Yoga Research

Wellbeing Wellington has developed a research project in collaboration with Dr Giles Newton-Howes and Dr William Levack of the University of Otago at Wellington, and Caroline Mastreani of Flow Yoga. A comprehensive funding application has been submitted to the Health Research Council.

Trauma Sensitive Yoga was developed as an adjunctive clinical treatment for complex trauma or chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD at the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts. Trauma Sensitive Yoga has foundations in Trauma Theory, Attachment Theory, and Neuroscience as well as Hatha Yoga practice with an emphasis on body-based yoga forms and breathing practices.

This type of yoga aims to bring practitioners into the present moment through sensory experiences of breathing and physical sensations. It incorporates physical postures, movement, breath exercises and mindful attention designed to assist clients to regain comfort in their bodies, counteract rumination, and improve self-regulation. The objective is to help participants heighten their body awareness—to notice what is happening inside their bodies—and thereby learn to release tension, reduce and control fear and arousal, and tolerate sensation. Through regular practice, practitioners are able to calm their minds and regulate their physical responses and, thus, their emotions. Four key themes are emphasised during the practice including: experiencing the present moment, making choices, taking effective action and creating rhythms.