What is Trauma-Sensitive Yoga?

I’ve been studying at Yoga on High these last few months and am halfway through the EMBER curriculum.  It has been a fascinating and rewarding journey.  I have amazing teachers, and equally amazing classmates.  By the end of April, I will complete the 100-hour EMBER certification, qualifying me to teach Mindfulness Based Emotional Resilience yoga classes.

Below you will find a description based on Yoga on High’s explanation of EMBER classes, as well as a quote borrowed from their site.  If you feel you would benefit from this type of class, please visit the contact page and let me know.  If there is enough interest, I would love to put one on the next schedule.


Trauma-sensitive yoga classes differ from traditional yoga classes in language, physical adjustments, and intention or focus.  A trained trauma-sensitive (or trauma-informed) yoga instructor will use the language of invitation and inquiry, will not offer hands-on adjustments, and will continually offer options and encourage choice as a way for students to cultivate a sense of empowerment.  The focus of a trauma-sensitive yoga class is not strength, flexibility, or stress-relief, though these might be happy side effects; rather, the intention is to create a safe space for the student to explore gentle physical movement and breathing as a way to communicate or reacquaint herself with her body.

The classes are structured to be predictable, beginning and ending in similar ways each time, with special attention paid to the types of props used, if any, and the potential for certain postures to bring about feelings of vulnerability.  Students are not only encouraged to make their own choices about how to approach a particular shape, but also to opt in or out of any portion of the class at anytime.

“Because strong emotions may arise and be released during and after a somatic practice like yoga, [it is] suggest[ed] students also work with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional while on their healing journey.”

“Yoga allows survivors [of trauma] to regain a sense of comfort and ease within their own shape, to process nonverbally feelings that transcend language, and to experientially cultivate gratitude towards the body, which serve as a reminder of one’s resilience (Boeder, 2012).”