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Trauma-Sensitive Yoga


Trauma Sensitive Yoga focuses on customizing a program to help individuals develop self awareness, self care and self regulation.

Since September 2014, Innovative Wellness has been facilitating  the in patient yoga program at Grand River Hospital’s  on the Specialized Mental Health unit.

Clients reported “Trauma-Sensative Yoga with Jayne gave me the tools I needed in a safe welcoming environment. Other classes re-traumatized me – triggering painful memories, emotions and physical sensations which were overwhelming, leaving me very upset, and numb. “

Scientifically- Backed Benefits of Yoga:

Research on yoga is still in its infancy, however below are some published scientifically proven benefits.

  •  Improves negative symptomatology (associated with anxiety and mood disorders such as schizophrenia, PTSD, Depression and other mood )
  •  Reduces chronic muscle tensions
  •  Decreases panic attacks; assist to keep calm
  •  Decreases muscle tension
  •  Decreases anxiety
  •  Improves sleep quality
  •  Moderates chronic pain
  •  Improves alertness
  •  Motivates participants to make healthy life style choices
  •  Increases feelings of physical well being
  •  Reduces stress
  •  Helps control blood sugar in people with diabetes
  •  Enhances respiratory function
  •  Alleviates arthritis pain
  •  Increases bone density and prevent osteoporosis
  •  Improves balance
  •  Enhances self regulation
  •  Improves mood
  •  Significantly improve psychopathology and quality of life
  •  Improves self concept/image
  •  Improves confidence
  •  Improves posture
  •  Connects with others
  •  Energizes and relaxes
  •  Helps participants stay grounded
  •  Yoga is a self care tool for mental and physical wellness
  •  Trauma-Informed Yoga participants reported it helped in their recovery from trauma

“The growing number of peer reviewed research is evidence showing that yoga can really help people living with anxiety and mood disorders.” Dr. Kelly McGonigal, PhD Stanford University health psychologist. yoga changes people at every level”


Perla Kaliman, Mara Jess ?lvarez-Lpez, Marta Cos?n-Toms, Melissa A. Rosenkranz, Antoine Lutz, Richard J. Davidson, 2014. Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2014; 40: 96 DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.11.004

2014 Chair Yoga research is currently being conducted at Florida Atlantic University. The researches noticed that chair yoga participants were reporting they experienced relief from painfor wheelchair participants and improved balance and gait speed for those not in a wheelchairs.


Moore, Dana, 2013. Yoga in Psychotherapy of Traumatized Clients: A Clinician?s Toolbox Chapter. Van der Kolk, Bessel and Moore, Dana. “Frontiers of Trauma Treatment.”

Rosenkranz MA et al., 2013. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Jan;27(1):174-84. http://www.investigatinghealthyminds.org/pdfs/ RosenkranzComparisonBBI.pdf


N Gangadhar Bangalore and Shivarama Varambally, 2012. Yoga therapy for Schizophrenia.Int J Yoga. 2012 Jul-Dec; 5(2): 85?91. yoga as an add-on therapy in schizophrenia, particularly in improving negative symptomatology and social cognition. However, the biological underpinnings of this effect remain unclear, although there are some indications that hormones like oxytocin may contribute to the changes in social cognition.

J.D. Creswell et al. , 2012. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 26 (2012) 1095?1101

Jamieson JP et al.,2012. Improving Acute Stress Responses: The Power of Reappraisal. Current Directions in Psychological Science 2012, XX(X). 1-6.

PS Jensen, PJ Stevens, DT Kenny, 2012. Respiratory patterns in students enrolled in schools for disruptive behaviour before, during, and after yoga nidra relaxation. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2012. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-011-9519-3#page-1 This study investigated the effects of one session of Yoga Nidra (relaxation technique) on the breathing patterns/respiratory effort in the thoracic and abdominal chest regions of boys with disruptive behaviour using a Respiratory Inductive Plethysmography (RIP). The participants (n = 7) were aged 10?15 years and attending NSW, Department of Education (DET) special schools for children with disruptive behaviour (DB). Results were compared with three students (one female) aged 15 years without DB. The seven boys had previously participated in a 13-week yoga program. During this program participants were progressively taught the practice of Yoga Nidra. The comparison group did not participate in the yoga program but underwent the same procedure for collection of data as the yoga group. Using Compumedics ?ProFusion Polysomnography (PSG)? software and further analyses in ?Polyman? European Data Format + (EDF), data were analysed by identifying breathing as unstable or stable. Unstable breathing was identified as fluctuations in rate/s of breathing effort, amplitude, cessation of breath, and thoracic or abdominal predominance. Results indicated that boys with disruptive behaviour generally displayed unstable breathing patterns throughout the pre-recording period and showed more stable breathing during Yoga Nidra compared with pre- or post-recording periods. There were also examples of reductions in thoracic dominance during Yoga Nidra. The comparison group?s breathing patterns throughout the three phases of the process were found to be stable.

Kelly A et al. 2012. Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? The Association with Health and Mortality. Health Psychology. Sept; 31(5): 677-684.

Daniel J. Libby, PhD, RYT, Felice Reddy, MA, Corey E. Pilver, PhD, Rani A. Desai, PhD, MPH, 2012. The Use of Yoga in Specialized VA PTSD Treatment Programs.Interantional Journal of Yoga Therapy, Volume 22, Volume 22 / 2012, 79-88

C.C. Streeter, P.L. Gerbarg, R.B. Saper, D.A. Ciraulo, R.P. Brown, 2012. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical Hypotheses, 78(5) 571-579. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987712000321

Varambally S1, Gangadhar BN, Thirthalli J, Jagannathan A, Kumar S, Venkatasubramanian G,Muralidhar D, Subbakrishna DK, Nagendra HR., 2012. Therapeutic efficacy of add-on yogasana intervention in stabilized outpatient schizophrenia: Randomized controlled comparison with exercise and waitlist. Indian J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;54(3):227-32. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.102414. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23226845/ In schizophrenia patients with several years of illness and on stabilized pharmacological therapy, one-month training followed by three months of home practices of yoga as an add-on treatment offered significant advantage over exercise or treatment as usual. Yoga holds promise as a complementary intervention in the management of schizophrenia.

Streeter CC, et. El. 2012. ?Western and Eastern medicine complement one another [and] yoga is known to improve stress-related nervous system imbalances,? said Chris Streeter, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center ?This paper provides a theory, based on neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, to understand how yoga helps patients feel better by relieving symptoms in many common disorders.? Streeter CC, et. El. 2012 May

A 2012 study published by the Journal of Nursing Research (Journal of Gerontological Nursing May 2012 – Volume 38 ? Issue 5: 12-22) has shown that yoga is improving the quality of life for seniors in assisted living facilities. It confirms that yoga exercises lead to better sleep and a decrease in the symptoms of depression.


Dr. Voruganti. Diabetes Prevention in Schizophrenia. Canada, Researchers found, yoga helps Schizophrenia, anxiety, and other serious mood disorders. For a five year period, data was collected weekly with the following results: 85% of the participants reported a decrease in symptoms, pain, and felt less sleepy. 90% reported felt good, 98% reported they were looking forward to returning to yoga the following week.(People in Motion program 2007-2009 Research, 2010-2012 Community)

Visceglia E1, Lewis S., 2011. Yoga therapy as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia: a randomized, controlled pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Jul;17(7):601-7. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0075. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21711202/.Adults with schizophrenia being treated in a state psychiatric facility who participated in an 8-week therapeutic yoga program showed significant improvements in psychopathology and quality of life compared with controls.

Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, 2011.


Kaplan, S. & Berman, M. G. (2010). Directed attention as a common resource for executive functioning and self-regulation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 43-57.

Simpkins, A., & Simpkins, C. A. (2010). Yoga in Psychotherapy of Traumatized Clients: A Clinician?s Toolbox. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Segal, Z et al., 2010. Antidepressant Monotherapy versus Sequential Pharmacotherapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or Placebo, for Relapse Prophylaxis in Recurrent Depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 December; 67(12): 1256?1264

Streeter CC, et el. 2010. Yyoga poses are associated with greater improvements in mood and anxiety than a metabolically matched walking exercise. Streeter CC, et el. 2010 Nov


Bowen S et al., 2009. Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for substance use disorders: a pilot efficacy trial. Substance Abuse. 2009 Oct-Dec; 30 (4): 295-305.

Manjunath RB. Bangalore: Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences; 2009. Efficacy of yoga therapy as an add-on treatment for in-patients and out-patients with functional psychotic disorder

A pilot study of a short-term yoga module evaluated in-patients being treated for psychosis, including schizophrenia. Consecutive patients who were reaching a clinical state that was adequate to engage them in yogasana practices were approached. Consent from both the patient and the relative was obtained after adequate information. These patients continued to receive the antipsychotics prescribed by their treating team. Consenting patients who met these conditions in the wards were recruited into the study. Yoga therapy sessions for the next two weeks or until discharge. Yoga was taught for first two weeks only and patients had to practice in the month of care at home.

At the end of the next month (n = 60), clinical ratings again suggested comparable reduction in symptom scores between the two groups (yoga & exercise). However depression scores fell more steeply in the yoga group.

2009 Harvard Mental Health Reports Yoga Helps: Bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, Depressions, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder


David Creswell, Hector F. Myers, Steven W. Cole, Michael R. Irwin, 2008. Mindfulness meditation training effects on CD4+ T lymphocytes in HIV-1 infected adults: A small randomized controlled trialBrain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2008. Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 184-188J. Zylowska, L., et. Al. (2008) Mindfulness Meditation Training in Adolescents and Adults with ADHD: A Feasability Study. Journal of Attention Disorders. 11(6), 737-746.


Blechert, J., Michael, T., Grossman, P., Laitman, M., & Wilhelm, F. H. (2007). Autonomic and respiratory characteristics of posttraumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 935-943.

Duraiswamy G, Thirthalli J, Nagendra HR, Gangadhar BN., 2007. Yoga therapy as an add-on treatment in the management of patients with schizophrenia: A randomized controlled trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2007;116:226?32. [PubMed]


Kabat-Zinn, J. (2006). Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves that the World through Mindfulness. New York, NY: Hyperion Press.

Ogdon, P., Minton, K., Pain, C., & Siegel, D. J. (2006). Trauma and the Body: A Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton Co.

Walsh, R. & Shapiro, S. (2006). The meeting of meditative disciplines and Western psychology: A mutually enriching dialogue. American Psychologist, 6(13), p. 227 ?Meditation is now one of the most enduring, widespread, and researched of all psychotherapeutic methods.?

van der Kolk, B. A. (2006). Clinical implications of neuroscience research in PTSD. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071, 277-293.


G Kirkwood1, H Rampes2, V Tuffrey3, J Richardson4, K Pilkington5, 2005 Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence Br J Sports Med 2005;39:884-891 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2005.018069 Encouraging results, particularly with obsessive compulsive disorder. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/39/12/884.short

Semple, R., Reid, E. & Miller, L. ,2005. Treating Anxiety with Mindfulness: An Open Trial of Mindfulness Training for Anxious Children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379-392.

Karen Pilkington, Grahm Kirkwood, Hagen Rampes, Janet Richardson, 2005. Yoga for depression: The research evidence. Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 89, Issues 1?3, December 2005, Pages 13?24. Potentially beneficial effects of yoga interventions on depressive disorders. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032705002570


Carson, J. et al.,2004. Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35, 471-494.


Davidson, RJ et al. Psychosom Med. 2003. Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. 2003 Jul-Aug;65(4):564-70.


Williams, M., Penman, D., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (2001). Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.


Raghuraj P, Nagarathna R, Saraswathi A, Nunn H, Telles S. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Innovations in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Richmond Fellowship Asia-Pacific Forum. Bangalore, India: The Richmond Fellowship Society; 2000. Effects of yoga on schizophrenics; pp. 193?5.

Rothschild, B. (2000). The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment. New York, NY: W.W. Norton Co


van der Kolk, B. A. (1994). The Body Keeps the Score: Memory and the Evolving Psychobiology of Posttraumatic Stress. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 1, 253-265.