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

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

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

Anneke Sips: Labels and Love – Let’s Connect!


Anneke is a Svastha Yoga Teacher/ Therapist and Registered Nurse (RN) who has worked in psychiatry since 1998. She is one of the first accredited yoga therapists in the Netherlands (C-IAYT) and the founder of Network Yoga Therapy and The Yoga Therapy Conference in Amsterdam.

In this video, she talks about labels we are given and that we give ourselves, taking a mindful approach to our everyday lives, and what we can do to connect with each other.


How to Teach Yoga Therapeutically – Head to our Facebook Page Now!

Is Yoga Inclusive? Therapeutic? Meet the Teacher/ Therapist/ Educator/ Author

Charlotte Watts, Lisa Sanfilippo, and Lisa Kaley-Isley in discussion about the leading edges in yoga therapy and what that can mean for your work in the yoga room, one-to-one, or in terms of a thriving practice that is of service to others.

The panel will interactively discuss their evolution as yoga teachers and therapists, and how their paths have paralleled current developments in the field of yoga. Through personal and professional experience as teachers, educators, and authors, they will discuss how they have developed and articulated their own specialist focus working with conditions (sleep/insomnia, digestion, and mental health). They will cover how they view those as exacerbated by experience of stress and trauma and can be relieved or improved through adapted yoga practice.

Charlotte, Lisa and Lisa will discuss their very different pathways into yoga and yoga therapy, and how these different passions, educational backgrounds, personality types, skill sets and preferences have lead to different courses, publications, and ways of working with clients. From there, they will explore how developments in the field of yoga and the ways in which yogic wisdom is transmitted in the modern age might match the needs of the individual.





Welcome to our Virtual Yoga Summit!

Welcome to Singing Dragon’s first-ever Virtual Yoga Summit, a digital event celebrating inclusivity in yoga and yoga therapy with the help of a carefully curated panel of experts and authors. This blog will be the central hub to our event, so do keep checking back to access all content, including videos, articles and podcasts. For scheduled live events, please head over to the Singing Dragon Facebook page.

Click the cover below to browse the full programme, meet our contributors and read about our partners’ work.


Our Virtual Yoga Summit live events are as follows:

9th October
11.00am UK/ 6.00am ET – Lisa Sanfilippo & Charlotte Watts & Lisa Kaley-Isley: How to Teach Yoga Therapeutically – Discussing Yoga and Yoga Therapy. Live-streamed event at Yogacampus Finsbury Park

16.00pm UK/11.00am ET – Donna Noble on Body positivity and inclusion. A live chat through the Singing Dragon Instagram

17.00pm UK/12.00 ET – Heather Mason: Yoga in Health Care. Facebook live

18.00pm UK/13.00 ET – Robin Rothenberg: Breath and chronic conditions. Facebook live

20.00 UK/15.00 ET – Shawnee Thornton Hardy: Making yoga and mindfulness inclusive and accessible to children and adults of diverse abilities. Facebook live


10th October
16.00pm UK/11.00 ET – Charlotta Martinus: Yoga for emotional intelligence among teens – a research perspective. Facebook live

17.30pm UK/12.30 ET – Sian O’Neill: An inclusive live class. Facebook live

19.00pm UK/14.00 ET – Aggie Stewart: Teaching Inclusive Group Yoga Classes for People with Chronic Conditions. Facebook live

All live events are interactive, so please do come with questions – our presenters will be happy to answer them!

Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Karla Helbert

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Karla Helbert, author of The Chakras in Grief and Trauma: A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness

How did you become interested in yoga therapy and aromatherapy?
I became interested in aromatherapy in the early 90’s and have studied it ever since. I have long been drawn to essential oils for therapeutic, emotional and spiritual uses. I began taking yoga classes around 1999 and after a year, decided to take a teacher training and it was life changing. It brought together all the aspects of spiritual life that I had been seeking for years, one that addresses humans as whole beings—physically, emotionally, energetically, spiritually. As a psychotherapist, I was able to bring the principles and teachings of yoga into my practice with clients and can see the effectiveness not only of asana (poses), meditation and breathwork, but also how the philosophy and ethical underpinnings of yoga support and create change. The essential teaching of yoga is wholeness and that our true nature is and has always been whole, that we can be no other way. Life, pain, grief, heartbreak, challenges, cause us to forget our essential wholeness, but all the teachings and branches of yoga remind us of this truth. Continue reading

Meet The Singing Dragon Author: Dr. Steffany Moonaz

As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.

Dr. Steffany Moonaz, author of Yoga Therapy for Arthritis

How did you become interested in yoga therapy? Were there any challenges you faced in entering this industry?
I started working as a yoga therapist before I knew what yoga therapy was. After my 200-hour training, I was hired by Johns Hopkins University to help develop a yoga program for people with arthritis. My training was essentially safe, but largely inadequate to meet their needs, so we learned from each other. I brought the fullness of my yoga training and they brought the fullness of their arthritis, and together we figured out what worked, what was most helpful, what needed further adaptation. Since then, with additional training as both a yoga therapist and a scientist focusing exclusively on this population, I’ve come a long way. I’m proud to say that since learning about yoga therapy, I’ve been actively involved in the professionalization of the field and its representation in the broader movement of integrative health. There was so little work being done specifically in arthritis when I got my start, despite how prevalent it is. I was basically handed my dharma and have been following it ever since.

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Yoga poses to help prepare the body for sleep

Yoga therapy offers a truly holistic approach to solving the growing problem of insomnia. In her new book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia & Sleep Recovery, expert yoga therapist Lisa Sanfilippo explains how yoga practices can be used to target the underlying issues that inhibit good quality sleep, with immediate results that build over time.

Honouring a natural yogic and Ayurvedic approach, and infusing it with modern neuroscience, Lisa addresses the deeper emotional reasons for not sleeping well and looks at how lifestyle changes can help to achieve better quality rest. With the body-mind connection at its core, this book shows how to support better health holistically to restore balance in each layer of the body.

In the below video, Lisa demonstrates her favourite yoga poses from a sleep sequence to help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.


Continue reading