Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy by David Emerson — Bringing the Body into Treatment

(W.W. Norton and Company) A systematic process for addressing trauma in a clinical setting has been outlined in the new book, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy by David Emerson, director of The Trauma Center Yoga Program.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga has been shown to be a useful adjunct to traditional psychotherapy because it focuses on symptoms of trauma rooted in the body, an area that other approaches have struggled to address. By using the mind-body connection and cultivating an awareness of presence in the physical form first, trauma survivors can use self-regulation to gain power over their own bodies, an area that may have previously caused a feeling of estrangement or lack of control.

Emerson provides evidence to explain why this specific type of yoga can be beneficial to clinicians and clients as they work together for healing, and includes samples of yoga forms that can be adjusted for individuals. He explains how the fundamentals of this work go beyond a cognitive approach, shifting the focus from external to internal, and even move beyond other somatic models that have come before it, such the Hakomi Method, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and Somatic Experiencing.

In addition, practicing these concepts for oneself will provide a better understanding of the body, and a personal understanding of how stress and trauma can be addressed through Trauma-Sensitive yoga therapy, making it that much more effective when offering it to others.


Olivia Kvitne is program director of Yoga for First Responders through Give Back Yoga Foundation. She has taught yoga to fire and police departments around the country including members of the Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Police Department. She has been working with Bliss Network for over two years. givebackyoga.org Twitter: @LoisLaneofYoga