Trauma Center Trauma-sensitive Yoga (TCTSY): an empowering, healing and mindful approach to teaching yoga

paperback-book-coverSome of you may have heard of the work of Bessel Van Der Kolk author of “The Body Keeps the Score”.  He explains how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences and how findings from neuroscience and attachment research can be inform a range of potentially effective treatments for traumatic stress.  Bessel also founded the Trauma Center in Massachusetts, USA where treatments to address complex trauma are developed and tested.

One of the approaches is Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY).  This is an empirically validated, clinical intervention for complex trauma or chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The TCTSY program is included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) database.  TCTSY has foundations in Trauma Theory, Attachment Theory, and Neuroscience as well as on central components of the hatha style of yoga, where participants engage in a series of physical forms and movements.

Last month I participated in a 20-hour training in TCTSY run by Alexandra Cat  who is based at the Yoga Clinic, UK.  In this course, I learned how to teach yoga in a way to cultivate a sense of empowerment and a more positive relationship to one’s body, using the TCTSY approach:

  • TCTSY does not use physical hands-on adjustments to influence a participant’s physical form.  Instead, the approach invites participants to be in charge of themselves based on a felt sense of their own body; the participant is empowered.
  • TCTSY enables a focus on the internal experience of a posture, not the external expression or appearance.  There is no ‘right’ way to do a posture, based on external approval or judgment; the participant is empowered to make his or her own choices.

By focusing on the felt sense of the body to inform choice-making, TCTSY allows participants to restore their connection of mind and body and cultivate a sense of agency that is often compromised as a result of trauma.

This training has informed the teaching of yoga that I do and I have started using in it the classes that I teach.  For more information, feel free to contact me.



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