Dagmar Härle: Trauma-sensitive Yoga

 This extract was adapted for the Virtual Yoga Summit from Trauma-Sensitive Yoga by Dagmar Härle. 

Since primeval times, people have tried to cope with the adversities of life. There have always been upsetting and traumatizing events, but the methods for confronting the consequences of these shocks have varied greatly. They range from shamanic rituals such as soul retrieval to physical forms of expression such as singing and dancing to cognitive and narrative forms. Many of our contemporary therapeutic approaches in the West are based on cognitive considerations. However, traumatization is not just shown in a change of convictions. Due to the lasting stress response, it is also displayed in the somatic effects that affect posture, physical reactions, and bodily sensations—phenomena that were the focus of treatment at other times and by other cultures. Feelings of numbness and being separated from one’s own body often alternate with strong, overwhelming reactions to triggers, and in many cases make an efficient therapeutic approach more difficult. Instead of introducing a new method, I see body-oriented work as a basis and supplement to the tried and tested techniques of trauma treatment.



The idea of integrating yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), and mindfulness into trauma therapy arose while working with my clients. When I completed my training in Somatic Experiencing and received my Master’s degree in Psychotraumatology, I was convinced that exposure therapy combined with a body-oriented approach is expedient in treating complex post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). I am still convinced of this, although it has become apparent to me that progress is not possible with every client when using this approach. For some people with complex trauma, the exposure of traumatic contents was simply not tolerable—relating to their own bodies was so disturbing to them that it triggered a response of panic and dissociation. Continue reading

Lisa Sanfilippo: Yoga for Sleep and Insomnia – Considering trauma

Author, yoga teacher and psychotherapist Lisa Sanfillippo has been teaching yoga for over 20 years, and now teaches at London’s premier studios, triyoga and the Life Centre. She runs yoga for sleep workshops around the world. Lisa’s work has been featured by various newspapers and magazines, and she has helped hundreds of people through her yoga for sleep workshops. She is regarded as the UK’s leading yoga for insomnia expert.

Lisa is the author of Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery (Singing Dragon, 2019).

In this video, Lisa discusses the benefits of yoga therapy for insomnia and trauma-related loss of sleep; the five-step approach to insomnia; how to approach teaching a trauma-sensitive group yoga class and more.


 Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery
An Integrated Approach to Supporting Healthy Sleep and Sustaining Energy All Day
Lisa Sanfilippo

Examining the ways that the body, trauma and emotional issues, and lifestyle can impact sleep, this book shows how to apply yoga holistically to tackle insomnia. Learn how to reset the delicate body-mind balance by moving through the koshas. This approach will put clients on the path to good quality sleep, with increasing effect over time. Read more

Georgia Keal: Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety – Day one

Georgia Keal is a British Wheel of Yoga trained yoga teacher and author of The Guided Meditation Handbook: Advice, Scripts and Hasta Mudras for Yoga Teachers (Singing Dragon, 2019). Georgia loves sharing the positive benefits of yoga and guided meditation with her students in her classes in East Sussex. Georgia is also a freelance travel and yoga writer and has contributed to many publications, including regularly to YOGA Magazine.

In this guided meditation you will learn a simple, calming breathing technique designed to reduce any feelings of anxiety by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the bodies natural de stress button. We then move on to guided imagery of being on a beach and uses the waves of the sea to help with the sensations of the waves of anxiety that may arise in your everyday life.

The Guided Meditation Handbook

Advice, Meditation Scripts and Hasta Mudra for Yoga Teachers
Georgia Keal
For yoga teachers who want to add a meditation element to their classes, this collection of guided meditations is the perfect resource. It also includes tips on setting the scene for a truly relaxed environment, alongside advice for on how to create your own meditations that can be tailored to the needs of yoga students. Read more

Shawnee Thornton Hardy: Making Yoga Accessible – Head to our Facebook Page Now!


Shawnee is a C-IAYT-certified yoga therapist, M.Ed., 500 E-RYT and RCYT (Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher). She is the founder of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs and the founder/director of Yoga Therapy for Youth Teacher Training Program. Shawnee has worked with children and adults with autism and special needs for over 20 years, specializing in working with children and adults with significant cognitive and language delays, sensory processing deficits, as well as severe behavior challenges. She wrote and published a book, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs – Yoga to Help Children with Their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness (Singing Dragon, 2014), is the creator of the C.A.L.M.M Yoga Toolkit and is currently working on her new book Yoga Therapy for Children and Teens with Complex Needs, to be published by Singing Dragon in 2021. She has a yoga school through Yoga Alliance in order to train others in yoga approaches to support children and adults with complex needs and travels globally to share her teachings.


 Asanas for Autism and Special Needs
Yoga to Help Children with their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness
Shawnee Thornton Hardy

Teaching yoga to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs is easy using this visual how-to handbook. Breaking down yoga instruction pose by pose, body part by body part, breath by breath, this book uses easy-to-understand language and clear photographs to show parents, teachers, yoga instructors, and other professionals how to introduce the life-long benefits of yoga to a child with special needs. Read more

A webinar with Shelly Prosko, Marlysa Sullivan & Neil Pearson and Amy Wheeler


Marlysa Sullivan, Shelly Prosko, Neil Pearson and Amy Wheeler talk about yoga and science in pain care.

Shelly, Marlysa and Neil have a new book they co-edited and co-authored called: “Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain” with Singing Dragon publishers.


In this webinar:

Shelly discusses the nuances and different orientations of compassion in pain care and how having compassion for self, and for the other, is critical for better pain care outcomes. She discusses some of the topics of her book chapter about what the current research is saying about compassion, why we don’t always act in compassionate ways, compassion in healthcare, and the value of integrating compassion training along with the wisdom traditions and practices of yoga into modern day pain care without getting practitioner burnout. She explains that yoga is inherently a compassionate practice and can also offer a space for further compassion to emerge. Shelly also shares with us the difference between the terms “Persistent Pain” and “Chronic Pain” and when/why to use them.

Neil is one of the global leaders in pain education, including education on pain biology. He summarizes what the research says about how pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue health. No one diagnostic test or alarm from our body tells the whole story about how we will experience pain, how our nervous system is wired to receive and give danger signals and what other factors contribute to the lived experience of chronic pain. He discusses if we should use pain as a guide for how far to push ourselves in exercise and movement practices. He goes on to explain how education about pain management is an intervention tool.

Marlysa discusses her passion for eudaimonia (finding meaning and purpose in life) when living with chronic pain. She explains when we have meaning, connection and purpose, that numerous (and very fascinating) physiological changes take place in our bodies. These changes have been thoroughly researched in scientific studies, and have been shown to contribute to positive health changes, particularly helpful for people living with persistent/chronic pain. A Yoga Therapist has the potential to help a person in pain find connection, meaning and purpose in life. This will impact the client’s physiology, their perception and ultimately their experience of pain.

The 3 also discuss the White Paper they have co-authored along with Matthew Taylor about how and why yoga therapy can be part of the national Integrative Pain Policy Congress’ strategy towards Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management (CIPM) to address the current public health pain crisis. The paper includes a review of the available evidence we have to support yoga therapy as an important team member of CIPM and outlines recommendations and CTAs to make impactful progress towards better pain care. The paper is currently under peer-review and hopefully published in 2020.

Chapter contributors to “Yoga and Science in Pain Care” include Joletta Belton, Steffany Moonaz, Matthew Taylor, Matt Erb, Lori Rubenstein Fazzio, Tracey Meyers Sondik, Michael Lee, Antonio Sausys Marun-Avisap, with foreword by Timothy McCall, MD.

 Yoga and Science in Pain Care
Treating the Person in Pain
Edited by Neil Pearson, Shelly Prosko and Marlysa Sullivan. Foreword by Timothy McCall.

This is an integrated approach to pain rehabilitation that combines pain science, rehabilitation and yoga with evidence-based approaches from respected contributors. The book shows how to integrate the practices of yoga and pain science, and promotes the movement to a patient-valued, partnership-based biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healthcare. Read more

Robin Rothenberg: Pranayama and Chronic Conditions


Robin Rothenberg is an author and internationally respected yoga therapist with a full time practice serving people living with chronic pain and illness. She is director of Essential Yoga Therapy with an IAYT Accredited Therapist Training Program and has been involved in yoga research since 2000.

Her Summit offering is based on her soon to be published text, Restoring Prana: A therapeutic Guide to Pranayama and Healing Through the Breath (Singing Dragon, 2019). Robin will share the knowledge she’s accrued from intensive study in respiratory science, and the original Vedic teachings on pranayama.


Restoring Prana
A Therapeutic Guide to Pranayama and Healing Through the Breath for Yoga Therapists, Yoga Teachers and Healthcare Practitioners
Robin Rothenberg

Grounded in the yogic teachings, this text introduces the Buteyko breathing method as a more contemporary way of understanding the original intention of pranayama. Through extensive research, Robin Rothenberg establishes that as with Dr. Buteyko’s breath retraining technique, the ancient yogis prescribed breathing less not more. Read more

Barbara Dancer: Why does a medical system want yoga?

Yoga therapy and its intersection with healthcare

“Why does a medical system want yoga?” Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani asked me this in a conversation about yoga therapy and its intersection with healthcare. “Because modern medicine focuses on curing, but when yoga is added to the equation, it can help individuals heal and give them a sense of their own inner wellness.”

Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani is both a medical doctor and successor to an ancient yogic tradition and therefore has a foot firmly in each camp of mainstream medicine and traditional yoga. “Modern medicine is good at acute interventions. First, medicine was an art, then it became a science and now it’s more like a business. So is yoga, by the way,” he joked. His view is that medical treatment has changed over time; from treatment of the individual, then to treatment of the diagnosis and now to treatment to the lab report. “But the limitation of modern medicine is the strength of yoga. Yoga empowers the individual and it helps them to connect with their own inner resources. Hence when they come together, they help in the best possible way.” Continue reading

Heather Mason: Yoga in Healthcare – Head to our Facebook Page Now!


Heather Mason, MA, MA, MSc, RYT-500, and yoga therapist is the founder of The Minded Institute, a yoga therapy training school, and also the Yoga in Health Care Alliance, a charity devoted to bringing yoga into healthcare at both the grassroots and policy level in the UK. Heather has been teaching yoga since 2001 and has specialised in the use of yoga therapy for mental health populations since 2007.

Heather is actively focused on the integration of yoga into the UK’s National Health Service and in 2018 helped to create an All-Party Parliamentary Group, “Yoga in Society”, in hopes of gaining support from central government.


Shelly Prosko: Hope and Possibility for People with Chronic Pain


Shelly is a physiotherapist, yoga therapist, educator and pioneer of PhysioYoga with over 20 years of experience integrating yoga into rehabilitation with a focus on helping people suffering from chronic or persistent pain, pelvic health conditions and professional burnout. She guest lectures at yoga and physiotherapy programs, presents at yoga therapy and medical conferences globally, provides mentorship to health providers, offers onsite and online continuing education courses for yoga and health professionals and is a Pain Care U Yoga Trainer.

She maintains a clinical practice in Sylvan Lake, Canada and believes that cultivating meaningful connections, compassion and joy can be powerful contributors to recovery and well-being. Shelly is co-editor of the book Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain (Singing Dragon, 2019).

In this webinar, Shelly discusses chronic pain and the possibilities that lie in yoga therapy to improve health and manage pain.



 Yoga and Science in Pain Care
Treating the Person in Pain
Edited by Neil Pearson, Shelly Prosko and Marlysa Sullivan. Foreword by Timothy McCall.

This is an integrated approach to pain rehabilitation that combines pain science, rehabilitation and yoga with evidence-based approaches from respected contributors. The book shows how to integrate the practices of yoga and pain science, and promotes the movement to a patient-valued, partnership-based biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healthcare. Read more

Donna Noble: Body Positivity – Head to our Instagram Now!


Donna Noble has been practising yoga since 1999. She is the creator of CurveSomeYoga. She has been a certified yoga specialist since 2011 with the Yoga Alliance and British Wheel of Yoga. She is also a certified NLP Master Practitioner. As well as teaching in New York and Texas she teaches all over the UK, and also taught at the Om Show, runs workshops and yoga retreats. She hosts her own show “The Noble Art of Wellbeing” on Natural Health Radio as well as being a fitness writer and blogger. She is on a mission to make yoga more accessible and diverse.

Donna is currently working on a book for Singing Dragon about making yoga classes body positive, due to be published in 2021.