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With My Body, I Heal

Trauma sensitive yoga for PTSD & CPTSD and group therapy combining sensitive yoga and conversation

About the model

About With My Body, I Heal 

With My Body, I Heal was originally developed by Dr. Yael Yitzhak-Edan and Dr. Efrat Havron as a therapeutic model for women who have undergone sexual assault and implemented at the Jerusalem Crisis Center for Sexual Assault in 2007. This therapeutic model has been adapted over time to create therapeutic settings for various populations with different needs who have experienced trauma such as one on one sessions with a sensitive yoga teacher,  group sensitive yoga without conversation, and the original setting of group therapy combining sensitive yoga and conversation. With My Body, I Heal group therapy sessions combine trauma-sensitive yoga practice followed by a group conversation, led in tandem by a yoga teacher certified in sensitive yoga and a therapist specializing in trauma. The model grew out of the understanding that the body is both the space that holds difficult memories of injury as well as a powerful tool with great potential for growth and recovery, therefore the work is complicated. The synergy between sensitive yoga and group conversation is important and meaningful, creating a conduit between the physical body and the emotional sphere.  The model with my body,  I heal combines sensitive yoga and a protocol of physiological  themes. These themes are the core of the practice and the opening  invitation of the conversation after the yoga practice. The protocol of the themes is designed to create a better setting hence  the complexity of the challenge:   The participants have three difficult tasks: The first is the complex encounter with the body,  the second is yoga as a new language, and finally the third is  verbal processing of the  physical experience.  With My Body, I Heal integrates the unique principles of sensitive yoga through a protocol of body-focused themes, such as legs, belly, etc. The body-focused themes help create and hold the therapeutic space, forming the central axis around which the yoga practice is built, and an entry point for the group conversation. The theme is presented at the beginning of the sensitive yoga practice and again at the start of the group conversation, inviting participants to share what arose in the yoga practice, or anything else that comes up. Over the years we have discovered that the content inspired by the different bodily themes repeats itself, as if the body is speaking similar content from different parts of the body. This understanding emphasizes the importance of utilizing themes, beyond their contribution to the framework of the therapeutic setting. The power of the bodily themes also arises from intention—a principle of Vijnana Yoga, the school of yoga that I practice and teach, is intention. In the yoga practice we set an intention to take a microscopic view of the body, focused on the theme, with a sense of curiosity and investigation. This allows for a subtle and spacious view of what arises. Practicing with a focus on a chosen theme, for example the legs, invites participants to see what arises from the legs in the context of the trauma—perhaps a memory of wanting to run, of being unable to move—and then to process what comes up in the following conversation.  The With My Body, I Heal model is unique in its combination of sensitive yoga and therapeutic conversation focused on meeting the body, its protocol of bodily themes that help hold the space and allow the body to “speak” from different places, and the power of insights that arise from setting an intention and focusing the gaze. More and more yoga teachers and therapists are training in the With My Body, I Heal method. The growth of the community of therapeutic yoga teachers sensitive to trauma, and particularly to post-trauma due to sexual abuse, helps women across Israel bring their body into their recovery process. Psychotherapists are participating in the training out of their understanding of the importance of the body in the recovery process. Their professional vision allows us to further develop protocols for how therapists can bring the body into the treatment room. The expansion of the community of trauma-sensitive yoga therapy teachers and therapists has led to therapeutic groups of With My Body, I Heal forming throughout the country. We invite you to join us in the growing trauma-sensitive yoga community.



What is trauma sensitive yoga

Memory is the preservation of the object of experience.” Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I.11

Yoga, comprising meditation, breathing, movement, and philosophical study, is a gateway to the space of body-consciousness. Pleasant or painful memories are embedded in our body. In the case of PTSD or CPTSD, trauma that has become chronic changes our physiology and our mental and emotional space. Trauma-sensitive yoga allows us to cultivate new, beneficial body-consciousness pathways. It allows for a contained, protected space where one can meet one’s body, slowly and gradually, at one’s own pace, in an empowering, accurate way. Slowly, through the practice of sensitive yoga, we restore the body, make friends with it, find strength and power in it, and nurture new and beneficial qualities for standing on our feet and moving in the world. The body is both the place that holds painful memories and the healing tool, and within the practice space we hold this complexity.


Seven central principles of trauma-sensitive yoga

  • Regulatory anchors

  • Restoring the body

  • Healing gaze

  • View of wholeness and health

  • Holding the pairs of opposites

  • Seeking the middle 

  • Cultivating the opposite

The practice space of trauma-sensitive yoga, whether it is individual, group, or in the therapeutic model that incorporates conversation, differs from “regular” yoga not only in the type of practice but also in being a space where we invite our traumas and complexities to accompany us into the room, into the practice. We choose a space where we agree to be both with our painful and damaged parts and with our successful and capable parts. The ability to be whole in this space is significant and exciting.

The model"s principles

Seven central principles of trauma-sensitive yoga

The Model's principles 1
a woman holding hand together in namaste

Restoring the body

Do I feel at one with my body? Do I want to meet my body? Do I know if meeting my body is pleasant or painful? Am I in a good relationship with my body? Little by little, we practice regaining control and making choices based on the ability to feel and connect what may feel like separate pieces into one whole. To be with my body, to move with my body in the world, to take good care of it, and to be able to choose what is right for me.

hand touching shin in downdog pose
 Regulatory anchors 

When the basis of trauma is physical, the body carries complex memories, and the encounter with the body can be complex and challenging. An important, essential step is searching for what may help me: a place in my body that is neutral or maybe even relaxing; a place that regulates and calms. Each person is different and therefore there is no single suitable formula. What brings me back to stability? A kindly look from my teacher, a certain body position, paying attention to my breath? In trauma-sensitive yoga we search together for regulatory anchors.

a woman performing a one legged bridge pose

View of wholeness

and health

Both in group and individual work, the yoga teacher and the therapist see not only brokenness, difficulty, and trauma but strength and ability—the whole. Trauma-sensitive yoga brings trauma into the world of yoga, that is, into a realm of health. Within the trauma-sensitive yoga practice and With My Body, I Heal groups, there is space for pain and difficulty as well as the good life that can emerge even out of trauma.

Holding hand together in a prayer
Healing gaze

We all share a longing to be seen. To feel visible for who we are, our strengths, our weaknesses, is a deep-rooted desire. Words tell a story, the body tells a story, and in the practice of sensitive yoga, the gaze of the teacher, in the group setting of With My Body, I Heal, that of the teacher and therapist witnesses the remembering body’s testimony. The gaze of the yoga teacher seeks to protect, to make sure the practice is precise, pleasant, and certainly not painful. The teacher’s gaze agrees to see difficulty and to search together with the student for a neutral or even pleasant feeling. The kindly gaze of the teacher and therapist can be the way a student learns the quality of such a gaze, the ability to view oneself and one’s difficulty with compassion, the ability to see one’s power and development. If I move within a group, I agree to be seen as whole made up of a collection of fragments. I also agree to see, be strengthened, and to hurt within the reflections of the gaze that exists in the group space.

Yael Edan doing a twisted standing pose
 Seeking the middle

A trauma-sensitive yoga teacher has a good, in-depth understanding of trauma and of the various tools that enable anchors of regulation, the return of the body, choice and control. Alongside the knowledge and tools there is an understanding that each person is a whole world and that the path forward should be paved together, listening to what is suitable for the individual in front of us. Both in individual work and in group work the trauma-sensitive yoga teacher will look for the right path for the person or the group. There is no one correct formula, and often, one thing may be true and at the same time its opposite true. Working together as equals and joint investigation are touchstones in the search for the middle. Here, psychoeducation is a significant and important tool.

A woman preforming a seated forward bend with prayer beads next to her
Read more about the principles of trauma-sensitive yoga
A close up at a forward bend pose
Holding the
pairs of opposites

Within the principles of sensitive yoga internal tensions sometimes exist. For example, between the desire to let the body speak with the understanding that different areas raise different and important content, versus the desire to move gradually and with care so as not to produce triggers. Or between the desire to practice choosing what is pleasant and correct, while knowing that this may be challenging and frustrating in light of the damage to proprioception and interoception that often characterizes trauma. These internal tensions oblige us to move gently and carefully between different types of work in a way that creates as benevolent and precise a space as possible.

Yael Edan doing a forward bend

“Its purpose is to cultivate samadhi and to weaken the kleshas.” Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II.2

Sensitive yoga seeks to cultivate the opposite: Instead of disconnecting from the body, we connect within the body and to the body. Instead of an abusive relationship with the body, we cultivate peace, concern, and compassion. Instead of being alienated from the body, we listen to what the body is saying. Instead of anxiety or a lack of sensation, we nurture sensory and emotional regulation anchors. Cultivating the opposite weakens the causes of pain. We give space to the pain that arises, to the pain that the body communicates, while cultivating new and empowering paths in the body, mind, and brain.

Cultivating the opposite
Yael itzhak edan
Yael Itzhak-Edan

I am a teacher and student on the path of yoga, a Doctor of Philosophy, group facilitator, and mother of two teenagers. I live in Neve Shalom, a village of Jewish and Arab co-existence, and have been teaching yoga since 2004. Working with the body has been part of my life from a very young age, through dance, martial arts, and finally, yoga. I encountered yoga during my doctoral research on how to achieve full consciousness according to the writings of Maimonides and Spinoza. After completing my degree and teaching at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, I decided to dedicate myself to yoga, studying with my teachers Noga Barkai and Orit Sen Gupta. I completed the three-year teacher training in Vijnana yoga, a training I now teach with my colleague Liora Amichai. I volunteered at the Jerusalem Sexual Assault Crisis Center hotline for four years, and during that time my desire to utilize yoga in the recovery process after physical trauma, and in particular sexual assault, took hold. I began a journey with psychologist Dr. Efrat Havron to develop a model combining yoga and conversation. ,We became familiar with and learned from the work of Bessel van der Kolk, who had begun integrating trauma-sensitive yoga into the trauma treatment process several years earlier. We called our model Yoga-Conversation and later, With My Body, I Heal.


Training workshops and lectures

WMBIH Techer training course

With My Body, I Heal – trauma-sensitive yoga sensitive and conversation
200-hour yoga therapy teacher training

The With My Body, I Heal teacher training deepens the understanding of trauma in general and sexual abuse trauma in particular, of the principles of trauma-sensitive yoga, and of the With My Body, I Heal therapeutic model.

The training consists of three parts:

Part I: The neurophysiological infrastructure of trauma and the path of yoga and sensitive yoga in recovery from trauma. This part includes seven three-hour Zoom sessions providing a foundation and a good introduction to trauma-sensitive yoga for yoga teachers and therapists. This part of the training also provides important tools for teaching yoga in “regular” classes. If you have a desire to teach trauma-sensitive yoga groups, lead With My Body, I Heal groups, or work individually, you can do so after continuing and deepening the two additional parts of the training. At the end the three-part training you receive a yoga therapy teacher’s certificate for 200 hours on behalf of the Israeli Association of Yoga Teachers.

Part II: A series of 18 sessions that include experiencing the With My Body, I Heal model, and studying and deepening your understanding of the principles of trauma-sensitive yoga.

Part III: Practicum with guidance.

At the end of the three parts, you can submit an application to the Israeli Association of Yoga Teachers to receive a 200 hours yoga therapy teaching certificate specializing in trauma.

hair touching floor in a forward bend
Lectures and daily workshops

Lectures and training days:

I would love to come to you for a study day combining a lecture and experiencing a trauma-sensitive yoga session. Training in such a framework can help the treatment team understand the model and support it.

  • What is trauma sensitive yoga?

  • With My Body, I Heal

  • The neurophysiological infrastructure of trauma

  • The damage to introspection and proprioception and the way in which trauma-sensitive yoga can help

  • Cultivating the opposite as a therapeutic approach in trauma-sensitive yoga

  • The inclusion of pairs of opposites within work with trauma-sensitive yoga

and more.

יצירת קשר


Thank you!

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