Introduction To Subtle Yoga For Trauma Recovery

By Lisa Foss, MA, LPCA

If you have experienced a trauma, chances are, a doctor or therapist has recommended you try yoga for stress relief.

There is research that supports the idea that “the body keeps the score” as noted by trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk. Trauma has an impact on not just our mental and emotional well-being, but science is showing us it also affects our brain and body. Yoga allows the body to reconnect to the brain when trauma has severed that connection. Yoga can help us feel safer in our own bodies and reduce the feeling of helplessness in our own environment.

However, not all yoga is created the same.

Subtle Yoga is a specific type of yoga developed as a holistic intervention which promotes: 

  • Attention
  • Mindfulness
  • Body Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Resilience
  • Self-Actualization
  • Pro-Social Behavior

Subtle Yoga enhances one’s mental health recovery in addition to other therapy interventions. It is a person-centered approach to yoga that calms the nervous system, improves breathing, increases mind-body connection, and is trauma-informed.

How Do You Know If Yoga Is Right For You?
Yoga can feel intimidating to some, and some of the positions can lead us to feel vulnerable. When you have experienced trauma, you need to feel safe, supported, and validated. Subtle Yoga is an approach that helps your practitioner be mindfully aware of your space and allows you to make the choice to move or not move into a movement, paying attention to signs that any position can be triggering. It is a slow-moving yoga practice. It does not involve contortions or headstands and is intended to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Yoga in therapy can be beneficial in so many ways: general stress management; re-calibration of the nervous system; integration of past stress experiences; and development of resistance for future stress.

Subtle yoga it is about moving mindfully and increases mind-body connection, emotional healing, pain reduction, and improved sleep.

If you would like to learn more about yoga for trauma, you can visit, or contact me at to learn more about how to incorporate yoga into your mental health practice. 

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mindfulness, trauma, yoga

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