Teaching Trauma-Aware Yoga – Creating a Healing Space with Celeste Mendelsohn


Trauma is so prevalent in our society that the results of the ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study), co-sponsored by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente, found 25% of the people in the study had experienced at least one of the ten adverse experiences they included. If anything, their findings are low as the group was mainly middle and upper income, and mostly Caucasian.

What this means is that potentially, one in four of our students in any class is likely to have trauma in their history. They may or may not still be reactive to it, but we won’t know unless we inadvertently trigger something. We may not know even then as the person may just leave, never to return.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk author of The Body Keeps the Score says, “If you’ve been traumatized, you’re likely to have a very distorted relationship to your body… trauma is really a somatic issue. It’s in your body and, because of that, yoga has great relevance… the most important part (of treatment for trauma) is starting to regain ownership of your body and be comfortable in your own skin. Our studies show that yoga is equally beneficial – or more beneficial than the best possible medications in alleviating traumatic stress symptoms.”

Since yoga can potentially be of great value to these students, we want to minimize or eliminate the potential for unnecessary pain and embarrassment. We can best serve them by becoming aware of the possible problems they may face in a yoga setting and implementing the changes necessary.

This class will teach you:

  • What happens to people who have traumatic events in their lives and the symptoms of PTSD.
  • How to change our cueing and languaging so we avoid unnecessary triggers.
  • What poses are likely to cause the most difficulty.
  • How to modify poses for people with challenges brought on by traumatic events.
  • How to physically set up your classes so that all students can be more comfortable.
  • Hands on assists, yes or no? The answer is, it depends!
  • Things to be aware of in students behavior on and off the mat.

This course is the first of three for yoga teachers who want to work in a substance abuse treatment setting. It is also a great standalone course for yoga teachers who plan to work in studios or in other settings where they may have students who have trauma in their background.

This Course Also Includes:

  • Yoga Practice Video: Enjoy a yoga practice created for this course.
  • Recordings of Both Sessions: Yours to keep. It’s generally acknowledged that many people only retain 10-20 percent of what they learn in a workshop. You will get access to the recordings of both sessions, enabling you to go back and listen to the workshop as many times as you like.
  • Transcripts of Both Sessions: Ever wanted to refer to a certain part of a course? Even the best note takers miss a point every so often. With the transcripts of the webinar sessions, you can go back and refer to particularly important passages or clarify sections you were in doubt about.

This course qualifies for 3 non-contact hour CEs with Yoga Alliance.


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Celeste Mendelsohn is a certified yoga teacher with a special focus on working with people in recovery. Her personal experience motivated her to develop Yoga Tarana. She was affected by the trauma of her family’s addictions.

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