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What Helps and What Hurts

Yoga and Meditation for Healing Trauma

An image of two fantastical creatures dancing

Deedee Cheriel

Yoga can be a great tool for recovery, but only if yoga teachers understand how to shape the practice to the needs of people healing from trauma.

It had been a pretty tough yoga class. Everyone in the packed classroom was sweating, and we had finally made it to Savasana, that few minutes when you get to lie down and rest at the end of a practice.  I was sprawled out on the floor. The yoga teacher put on a recording of a woman’s voice, a harp tinkling in the background. “You are a very powerful being,” she crooned. “You create everything that happens to you in your life. You may wonder to yourself, ‘Why did that person do that bad thing to me? I didn’t deserve that! Well, actually, you did! You manifested that situation at some point in your life. You are just that powerful!’”  I felt tears starting to flow down my cheeks. I got so angry that I couldn’t stay still. I got up, pulled my hoodie down over my head, and ran out of the class, barely suppressing my sobs on the way out the door.  Why did the tinkling harp recording make me run for  the hills so violently? Because I have been sexually assaulted, and at the time I had been working for weeks with my therapist on trying to understand that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’ …

About the Author

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

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