Trauma Sensitive Yoga

At The Nelson Clinic we offer Trauma Sensitive Group Therapy on a termly basis.

Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY) aims to introduce yoga in a way that supports participants to notice what they feel in their body and enables a sense of agency in moving their body in a way that feels safe and empowered. Participants are invited to engage in movement and to choose how to respond. This practice of Trauma Sensitive Yoga is from the Trauma Centre Trauma Sensitive Yoga programme at the Justice Research Institute and is based on research which has been carefully designed to assist in healing the effects of trauma. A safe and supportive group environment will be offered, with two facilitators to provide guidance. This environment is suitable for all abilities and no experience is needed.

2023 Term Dates

  • Term 4: 9 October - 15 December

2024 Term Dates

  • Term 1: 29 January - 12 April
  • Term 2: 29 April - 5 July
  • Term 3: 22 July - 27 September
  • Term 4: 14 October - 20 December


  • Mondays 13:00 - 14:30
  • Wednesdays 09:15 - 10:45
  • Wednesdays 10:45 - 12:15


  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 19:30


  • Fridays 11:30 - 13:00
  • Saturdays 11:30 - 13:00

Term 4 Registration

REGISTER (Nelson)          REGISTER (Motueka)          REGISTER (Auckland)


Group Facilitators

Jen Holmes-Beamer
Jen is ACC-registered and is currently training with the Australia and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy in psychodynamic psychotherapy for complex trauma. Jen is a Certified Yoga Therapist and Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TC-TSY) facilitator through the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute. She has facilitated yoga in mental health settings since 2016 in both Canada and New Zealand and is passionate about trauma-informed mind-body practices that empower others in their own journey of awareness, resiliency, and healing.

Hester Phillips
Hester Phillips is a registered Arts Therapist, group facilitator and movement teacher who supports others to live their unique potential. She holds a first class clinical Master's degree in Arts Therapy, is a certified Open Floor movement meditation teacher and a graduate of the Restorative Movement Psychotherapy for Trauma Survivors programme. Hester is also the co-founder and director of Conscious Dance Aotearoa, New Zealand's annual festival of Conscious Dance. Hester's Master's thesis research explored the efficacy of trauma informed movement for clients with physical symptoms of trauma. Hester specialises in somatic approaches to trauma recovery in her busy private practice in Nelson.

Anna Clarkson
Anna is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in working with trauma for many years and has a particular interest in an integrative approach to healing. Anna has completed initial training in Trauma Centre Trauma-Sensitive Yoga.

Rachel Heartwood
Rachel is a registered Creative Arts Therapist, practicing out of Nelson and Motueka specialising in eco-arts therapy (arts therapy with and in nature). She received a first class Master’s degree in Arts Therapy from Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in 2018, and since then has worked in private practice running both groups and individual sessions for clients with trauma and/or neurodiversity. She lived in a mindfulness retreat centre for two years, supporting and holding retreats centered around mindful living, mindful movement, and creative exploration. She incorporates this work into her sessions, finding 'bridges' to presence through movement, forest-bathing, art-making and breathwork.

Jessica Dziwulska
Jessica is a Trauma Informed movement and well-being practitioner who has practiced and studied the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of movement, therapeutic dance, restorative practices, trauma, and yoga for close to 3 decades. She is passionate about facilitating a personalised approach for each person in a way that is unique to their body, mind, history, and hopes.

Jo Kibblewhite
Jo is a clinical psychologist with a background in critical care nursing with more than 20 years of experience within the health sector. She currently works full time in private practice using trauma-informed therapy modalities. From her work as a psychologist and nurse, Jo recognises the importance of healing processes that extend ‘beyond talk therapy’. Jo takes an integrative approach to healing informed by her understanding of neurobiology. She draws on evidence-based practices and theories that place the embodied experience as central to the recovery journey. She brings a trauma informed lens to her work and in addition to modalities such as EMDR, CBT and ACT, encourages somatic practices of connection with and befriending the body. Jo takes part in her own daily embodied practice and seeks to support others in their recovery. Her role as a co-facilitator in the Trauma-Sensitive Yoga programme is one of supporting and creating a gentle sense of safety and belonging.

Vic Hathaway
Vic is both a certified teacher and a registered therapist specialising in trauma-recovery. She is trained in DBT, ACT and aspects of EMDR and holds a Masters of Counselling from the University of Auckland. As an ACC Sensitive Claims provider, Vic has found that traditional talk-therapy is both enhanced and enriched when combined with body-based interventions, such as yoga and somatic movement. There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that trauma is stored in the body, and it therefore makes sense that it also needs to be released from the body in order to heal and encourage post-traumatic growth.

Yoko Obata
Yoko is an ACC ISSC registered Clinical Arts Therapist. She is trained in Arts Therapy, Dance Movement Therapy, Somatic Therapy and EMDR. She has a Master's degree in Arts Therapy (Clinical) and a Bachelor's in Psychology. She holds the view that healing, recovery, and growth are a creative process, and her experience with martial arts, Japanese Taiko drumming, substance abuse counselling and bodywork/Eastern Medicine also contributes to her trauma therapy work where she holds the space for clients to connect with themselves and to the natural intelligence of their body. She works both online and in person in Parnell Auckland, as well as assisting the TSY group in Browns Bay.

What we offer

Trauma Sensitive Yoga is a 60-minute class. After the class, clients are offered the opportunity to drink tea, connect with others and/or make use of a range of art making materials. This is optional and clients can leave at any time. This time is designed to support safe opportunities for social connection and integration of yoga.

Potential benefits and outcomes of TSY

  • Improved emotional regulation and reduction of hyperarousal
  • Reconnecting with and befriending the body in a compassionate way
  • Awareness of breath
  • Developing awareness of choices in relation to the body
  • Tuning into the body and somatic sensations safely

Who can participate in this group?
Anyone with an approved ACC ISSC claim and is currently engaged in ISSC therapy is eligible. Clients can request participation by contacting their therapist and expressing interest. If appropriate, the therapist can then request approval from ACC.

What do you need for an in-person class?
Everything is provided but participants are also more than welcome to bring their own mat / props if they choose. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes that can be moved in.

Participant Commitment
We run either 6- or 8-week courses and there is an expectation that participants will make a commitment to attend all sessions to ensure optimal benefit and be able to integrate these practices over time.

Outcome Measure and Evaluation
Participants will fill out the Insomnia Severity Index prior to starting and upon completion of the yoga course. An anonymous evaluation form will be provided to participants to assess their experience of the group and inform development.

We will liaise with participants and the lead provider (therapist) prior to the group commencing to ensure we are aware of any particular needs or safety concerns that may require supportive attention. Participants will be invited to check in with the facilitators after each session if they require additional support and we will liaise with the lead provider to ensure participants are supported as needed.

Cultural Sensitivity
Cultural diversity and bicultural awareness are seen as a strength in group process and participants will be encouraged to express any unique cultural perspectives and needs. We will check with participants prior to the group whether there is anything needed to feel safe and comfortable.