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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Greater Washington

Sep 09, 2013 02:32AM

Over the years, students come seeking yoga for physical and emotional well-being, never mentioning their need for relief from traumatic experiences—malicious relationships, disastrous accidents, debilitating military service or devastating diagnoses. One-by-one, their yoga practice becomes a source of hope and healing, with a dedication to overcoming trauma, under the gentle guidance of a skilled, supportive teacher.

The Washington area is rich in resources for individuals looking for trauma-sensitive yoga—from very gentle group classes with physical poses and breathing exercises, to restorative yoga by candlelight, using blankets, chairs and walls for support. Yoga nidra has become an extremely popular and effective form of deep relaxation and personal acceptance, with body scanning, guided imagery and mindful awareness.

Such classes can be found in integrative medical clinics, yoga studios, community centers, hospitals, the Veterans Administration and the Walter Reed Medical Center. Highly experienced yoga teachers, yoga therapists and psychotherapists also offer private, individual sessions to teach yoga, as a means of getting in touch with our bodies, using a wide range of postures and practices, from beginning to advanced. Because the body itself holds memory, not just within the brain, but deep within our cells, the release we experience in yoga allows our bodies to express this memory and release it. This allows us to have the experience of letting go, in a safe and sacred space.

Those seeking trauma-sensitive yoga experience should speak with the studio owner, instructor or therapist first. Another helpful resource is the Joint Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Performance Program’s website at, which is an outstanding resource for veterans and their families.

Linda Lang is a trauma-sensitive, therapeutic yoga teacher at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the George Washington University Medical School. For more information, visit 


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