focus article by dr Caelan soma about universal needs

PTSD and Yoga

The experience of trauma is one of prolonged stress accompanied with worry, fear, anger, and sadness. Following trauma, memories are re-experienced in a person’s mind as images. However, they are also re-experienced as sensations in a person’s body because trauma is stored in sensory memories. The sensations experienced following trauma can be terrifying, evoking uncomfortable reactions like rapid breathing, racing heartbeat, tense muscles, and even the feeling of not being able to move at all. Trauma is overwhelming and leaves people feeling powerless and hopeless to do anything about their situation.

Yoga is a sensory-based modality that can be used as a trauma intervention activity. It provides a new experience for the traumatized person. Through deliberate breathing and body movements, yoga practice teaches traumatized individuals how to become more aware of their body’s sensations. Yoga provides an opportunity for a person to notice, tolerate, and better manage post-trauma sensations in a safe space. The practice of yoga helps to calm the central nervous system, decreasing the physiological and biochemical byproducts of stress. In addition, yoga practice is empowering. Individuals actively participate in activities that help lower stress and provide them a sense of control over their body. In yoga, the participant is invited to manipulate their breath and posture so that it is comfortable and safe. Therefore, instead of feeling stuck and helpless, yoga provides a new experience of movement and empowerment that is safe and structured.


There are plenty of mind body skills beyond yoga! Watch below as Starr Senior Trainer Erin Reed explains why any mind body strategy works.


Learn more and begin implementing mind body skills with the children you work with, as well as in your own life, with these related resources:

By Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, provides oversight for all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma informed, resilience focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including TLC’s SITCAP® model programs.

About Starr Commonwealth

Starr Commonwealth is dedicated to the mission to lead with courage to create positive experiences so that all children, families, and communities flourish. We specialize in residential, community-based, educational, and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults, and families in communities around the world. To schedule a training or consultation, please contact or call 800-837-5591.