trauma sensitive yoga

Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is a form of yoga designed for trauma survivors.

Dave Emerson and Bessel van der Kolk developed trauma sensitive yoga at the Trauma Center in Boston, USA.

To develop trauma sensitive yoga they combined traditional Hatha Yoga with modern trauma theory, attachment theory and neuroscience. They also used input from trauma survivors, yoga teachers and mental health professionals.

The focus of trauma sensitive yoga is on giving participants a safe way to experience their body, and to explore choice making based on the felt sense of their body.


"I can express my feelings more because I can recognize them more. I feel them in my body, recognise them, and address them."

Trauma Center Trauma sensitive yoga student


Are you a trauma survivor and interested in trauma sensitive yoga classes?

Sam Voolstra facilitates regular small group trauma sensitive yoga courses in Lismore and Nimbin.

Private group classes and one-on-one sessions are also possible.


Upcoming trauma sensitive yoga courses


Thursdays, March 3 till April 7, 5.30 till 6.30 pm, Lismore - bookings welcome

Thursdays, April 28 till June 2, 5.30 till 6.30 pm, Lismore - bookings welcome

Are you a mental health professional, service or organisation and interested in trauma sensitive yoga?

Read more

Possible benefits of practicing trauma sensitive yoga

Research at the Trauma Center and other medical centers shows that trauma sensitive yoga can reduce the symptoms of PTSD and Complex Trauma.

Some of the benefits mentioned by participants of Trauma Sensitive Yoga are:

  • Connecting with feelings and emotions in my body in a safe way.
  • Increasing my tolerance to stay with challenging feelings and emotions
  • Being in my body in the here and now, not in the past.
  • Building a more safe and positive relationship with myself and my body
  • Learning to make choices based on what I am feeling in my body.
  • Feeling empowered to find things out from my own experience and act on it myself.
  • Being able to be myself while being in a group of others.
  • Finding a safe space without having to talk about my trauma or talk to others.

Trauma sensitive yoga is complementary to any type of medication, counseling or therapy you might be receiving.

We do not talk about trauma in the classes, we practice yoga together.

Read research on trauma sensitive yoga

What can you expect in a trauma sensitive yoga class?

You are invited

You are invited to share a yoga practice with others, while making it your own unique yoga practice. There is no right or wrong way to do the yoga forms or movements.

We do our best to offer a safe and respectful space for practicing yoga together. Therefore the yoga class facilitator practices with you, does not walk around and does not touch your body.

You are very welcome to share any concerns you have about for example the space, the class, the way of teaching, the language used. The facilitator is there before and after class to listen to and address any issues you have.

Your choice

You always have choices. The first choice is always either trying an offered yoga form or movement, or deciding not to try something. You never have to do any form or movement, nor do you have to give a reason why you do not want to.

When you choose to try a form or movement, you will always be given some options how you could do a yoga form or movement. You are also invited to experiment with forms and movements in a way that works for you at that moment.

Practicing choice making in yoga might help you with making choices in daily life based on what is happening for you in the present moment.

Sensing your body

You will also regularly get the choice to pay attention to sensations you might feel in your body related to the yoga form or movement. Sometimes you might notice sensations in your body, and sometimes not. Your experience of your body is unique and always changing.

Exploring sensations in your body in a safe way might support you with understanding and regulating your feelings and emotions.


"I make conscious decisions now about my son, to raise him differently than how i was raised. So i can see that there are choices and options. You can be gentle in the world and yoga helps you see that there are choices."

TCTSY student