Resources

People around the world have experienced the effectiveness of integral yoga for relieving trauma-related suffering. We have identified partners and sources of inspiration in Australia and Colombia, Lebanon, South Africa and the UK, and are seeking to develop our network further.

In Lebanon, we are partnering with grassroots organisations Salam LADC and Women Now for Development to offer weekly yoga classes to Syrian refugees. The aim is to use yoga to reduce the widespread mental health problems among refugees. These partnerships have enabled us to introduce simple, gentle yoga practices to more than 100 women and 300 children in our first year on the ground in Lebanon. Together with Research on Yoga in Education (RYE UK) we are currently offering a ‘teaching yoga to kids’ training to 12 local Lebanese and Syrian women living or working in Bekaa valley refugee settlements. Training locally based teachers and social workers is essential as we seek expand our reach and make the tools of yoga accessible to those who most need them.

Dunna, a non-profit organisation in Colombia, has since 2010 made integral yoga available to demilitarised militants and victims of the decades long armed conflict. More than 1400 people have participated and several studies have shown that yoga is an effective, low cost intervention for PTSD.

Helen Cushing (Ahimsa), the founder of Life Beyond Trauma has been doing pioneering work to help war veterans in Australia overcome the trauma of war over the past 12 years. Life Beyond Trauma is at the forefront of applying yoga in the treatment of trauma-related issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), turning around the lives of men and women who have served in conflicts around the world. Watch a short documentary film, Hope for Heroes, and find out more about this work at www.lifebeyondtrauma.com.

The Seva Unite Prison Freedom Project has enrolled over 350 inmates in several facilities around South Africa in its five weekly volunteer-led prison yoga classes. Teaching is also done through correspondence courses; Seva Unites distributes yoga manuals and course materials and mentors inmates through letter writing. Watch Free Inside, an inspiring short documentary about this rehabilitation work through yoga. “True freedom is an inside job.”

The Trauma Centre in Boston conducts studies on traumatic memory and how treatment effects trauma survivors’ minds, bodies, and brains. Under the leadership of Bessel van der Kolk, the Trauma Centre has conducted studies exhibiting statistically significant reduction of PTSD symptoms as a result of a short yoga programme.

Further reading

  • Herbert Benson, The Relaxation Response
  • Dinah Bradley, Hyperventilation Syndrome
  • Helen Cushing, Hope: How Yoga Heals the Scars of Trauma
  • David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body
  • Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book
  • Jim Hartley, Breathing Matters
  • Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger
  • Tim McCall, Yoga as Medicine
  • Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Prana and Pranayama
  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yoga Nidra
  • Glenn R. Schiraldi, The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook
  • Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score
  • Amy Weintraub, Yoga Skills for Therapists