Trauma Sensitive Yoga

Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is an evidence based, clinical intervention for complex trauma or chronic, treatment resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The TCTSY methodology draws on trauma theory, attachment theory, neuroscience, and yoga philosophy and practice. 

Research studies by Bessel A. van der Kolk and colleagues have shown that TCTSY significantly reduced PTSD symptoms in 8-weeks for many participants. This approach to yoga was also found to improve functioning by increasing tolerances to physical and sensory experiences and to increase emotional awareness and affect tolerance. Feel free to access research articles on TCTSY using the following link: TCTSY.

Although TCTSY offers physical forms and movements, the focus is not on achieving physical forms but rather of noticing and re-connecting with inner sensations. This shift in orientation, from the external to the internal, is a key attribute of TCTSY as a complementary treatment for complex trauma. With this approach, the power resides within the individual, not the TCTSY facilitator. 

Further, by focusing on the felt sense of the body to inform choice-making, TCTSY provides opportunities for participants to restore their connection between mind and body and to cultivate a sense of agency that is often compromised as a result of surviving trauma.

The TCTSY programmes are thoughtfully curated to provide a titrated approach to the practices in order to manage the discomfort that can arise when exploring body sensation. 

Each class offers participants empowerment-based language and choices, while offering consistency and predicatbility.


What we offer

Trauma Sensitive Yoga is a 60-minute class. After the class, an additional 30 minutes is provided to foster additional opportunities for safe social connection, further co-regulation and integration by extending the practice to receive tea/coffee and participation in integration activities, such as art, and journaling. 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
The experience of practicing yoga can help participants find union between disconnected and disrupted aspects of the self. Trauma-sensitive principles allow space to safely re-connect the body and mind into a felt sense of integration and wholeness by beginning to befriend the body, explore inner experiences with curiosity and practice somatic and body-based resources of wellbeing. TCTSY cultivates interoceptive capacity as a pathway to awareness, agency and re-connection.

This programme can be a complement to counselling or therapy to allow participants to become familiar with inner sensations as a broader journey towards healing. 

Potential benefits and outcomes of TCTSY include:

  • Reduction in PTSD symptoms.
  • Improved functioning.
  • Increased tolerance to physical and sensory experience.
  • Increased emotional awareness and affect tolerance.
  • Practice making choices in relation to the body.

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.

Group participants will be those with mild to moderate mental health issues including PTSD or complex trauma. The group would not be
suitable for participants with acute psychotic disorders.

For the online group programme, it is essential that participants have learned some emotional regulation / grounding skills in case they become dysregulated in a session or have the ability to notice distress and reach out for support via the support therapist.

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.

What do you need for an online class?
Participants will need a phone or computer with high-speed internet.
Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes that can be moved in.

Participant Commitment
We run 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
Self regulation starts with interoception. Participants will fill out a Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) questionnaire 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.

2024 Term Dates

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


  • Wednesdays 09:15 - 10:45 (Female only class)
  • Wednesdays 10:45 - 12:15 (Female only class)


  • Wednesdays 12:30 - 14:00 (Female only class)
  • Thursdays 12:30 - 14:00 (Female only class)


  • Mondays 09:30 - 10:30 (Mixed class)

Process for Lead Providers

The deadline for Term 1 Purchase Orders is Monday 29 January 2024

1. Purchase Order Request

To arrange approval for a client to attend the group, please contact the client's recovery partner as soon as possible. You will need to provide a rationale and request the following codes be approved:

In-person classes

  • SCGT x1
  • SCGW x12 (8x 1.5h sessions) OR

Online classes

  • SCGT x1
  • SCGW x 8 (8x 1h sessions)


  • Time frames: 14 February 2024 - 10 April 2024
  • Vendor ID: VAH127 (The Nelson Clinic)

This is a simple example of a rationale that could be provided:

"We would like to request approval please for this client to attend a group course run by the Nelson Clinic (VAH127), which will commence on DATE.

The aim of this would be for the client to acquire some additional skills in managing PTSD and depressive symptomatology and promote an opportunity for safe social connection to address current isolation. Could you please let me know if this can be approved for the client? They are motivated to attend this treatment, which aligns well with their current goals as outlined in the wellbeing plan".

2. Registration

When The Nelson Clinic receives the Purchase Order from ACC we will be in contact to get your client registered and to advise you of the next steps.

3. Triage

Once we have received your registration form, one of our TSY facilitators will contact your client to triage for any needs prior to commencing the group. You will be kept informed of any decisions relating to your client.

Group Facilitators (Nelson)

Jen Holmes-Beamer
Jen is grounded in evidence-based and holistic models of trauma therapy including trauma-informed psychotherapy, EMDR and trauma-sensitive yoga, on a basis of a collaborative therapeutic relationship. As an internationally accredited yoga therapist  and certified trauma sensitive yoga facilitator, Jen has developed and facilitated yoga as healing treatment programs within psychiatric units, non-profit agencies and community programs in Canada and New Zealand for the past 8 years. Jen offers a gentle and intuitive approach, supporting trauma survivors to safely re-connect with their inner world in order to cultivate innate wisdom and capacity for healing.

Aurélie Chambers
Aurélie is a registered Art Therapist with ANZACATA (NZ) and ATCB (USA) and has over 20 years’ experience working sensitively with children, adolescents, and adults to help facilitate the expression of difficult thoughts and feelings through creative media. She uses a client centred and multimodal approach to working with clients to meet individual needs.

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.

Group Facilitators (Auckland)

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.

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.

Anna Drijver
Anna has over 20 years’ experience and uses a variety of modalities depending on the needs of her clients. As a yoga and mindfulness teacher, and trauma sensitive yoga practitioner, she also brings an embodied psychotherapy model to her practice.

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.