Author(s): David Emerson
Survivors of trauma--whether abuse, accidents, or war--can end up profoundly wounded, betrayed by their bodies that failed to get them to safety and that are a source of pain. In order to fully heal from trauma, a connection must be made with oneself, including one's body. The trauma-sensitive yoga described in this book moves beyond traditional talk therapies that focus on the mind, by bringing the body actively into the healing process. This allows trauma survivors to cultivate a more positive relationship to their body through gentle breath, mindfulness, and movement practices." Overcoming Trauma through Yoga "is a book for survivors, clinicians, and yoga instructors who are interested in mind/body healing. It introduces trauma-sensitive yoga, a modified approach to yoga developed in collaboration between yoga teachers and clinicians at the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, led by yoga teacher David Emerson, along with medical doctor Bessel van der Kolk. The book begins with an in-depth description of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including a description of how trauma is held in the body and the need for body-based treatment. It offers a brief history of yoga, describes various styles of yoga commonly found in Western practice, and identifies four key themes of trauma-sensitive yoga. Chair-based exercises are described that can be incorporated into individual or group therapy, targeting specific treatment goals, and modifications are offered for mat-based yoga classes. Each exercise includes trauma-sensitive language to introduce the practice, as well as photographs to illustrate the poses. The practices have been offered to a wide range of individuals and groups, including men and women, teens, returning veterans, and others. Rounded out by valuable quotes and case stories, the book presents mindfulness, breathing, and yoga exercises that can be used by home practitioners, yoga teachers, and therapists as a way to cultivate awareness, tolerance, and an increased acceptance of the self.
"In this landmark book the authors offer survivors a gentle, step-by-step "mindful" yoga that is tailored for their specific needs.... This well conceived book is a tremendous resource for therapists and yoga teachers. By engaging the wisdom of their bodies, it is a great companion and guide to those taking the journey of recovery from trauma to wholeness. "Overcoming Trauma through Yoga" is a gift for those taking the hero's journey of recovery and vibrancy." --From the foreword by Peter A. Levine, PhD, author of the best-selling "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma" "This book sets out to facilitate the creation of healing environments. Clinicians will learn basic yoga skills that can be implemented within individual therapy sessions. Yoga teachers will find thoughtful advice on how to make assists that won't trigger internal defenses. And trauma survivors will receive edict-free encouragement for using yoga as a tool for self-discovery. Thoughtful and thorough, "Overcoming Trauma through Yoga" brings a spirit of optimism to the process of healing past wounds and reclaiming body and mind." --Rolf Sovik, PsyD, "Yoga International Magazine" "Trauma-related conditions are complex disorders involving dysregulation of the mind, body, and the mind/body interface. Although yoga is a mind/body practice known to have significant therapeutic benefits, yoga for healthy individuals is not the same as yoga therapy for patients, which must take patient limitations into account. The trauma-sensitive yoga developed by the authors through practical and clinical experience, and described carefully, practically, and systematically in this book, incorporates the best that yoga has to offer with what will benefit trauma patients safely and comfortably." --Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Research for the Kundalini Research Institute "At last, an engaging, accessible, theoretically groundedt
David Emerson is the director of yoga services at the Trauma Center (traumacenter.org). In 2003 he codesigned the Trauma Center Yoga Program that includes classes and teacher training programs. He lives in Cambridge, MA. Elizabeth Hopper, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in traumatic stress and works as the associate director of training at the Trauma Center. She lives in Somerville, MA.