Last updated: March 20, 2020

Yin Yoga has been used quite effectively to help people deal with traumatic memories.

It is certainly true that yoga, or even meditation, can trigger unwelcomed states of mind in some people.[1] But, fortunately, these instances are relatively rare. On the other hand, Yin Yoga has been used quite effectively to help people deal with traumatic memories.


Two particular teachers, Tristan Rose and Ross Walker, have made it their personal mission to introduce Yin Yoga to veterans to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). They report that


…the slow pace of yin yoga is particularly accessible to the veteran and emergency service community who have ‘suffered trauma and hold injuries from their service.’[2]


Their evidence is not just anecdotal, although they do have a lot of examples. They also draw from professionals in the field, such as Professor David Forbes of the Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, who said,


Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and exercise are really important for lowering the levels of arousal we see in [post-traumatic stress disorder] … that sense of ongoing readiness to respond to threat that taxes the body.[3]


So, while rarely some people can be triggered by meditation or yoga, many more seem to benefit from the practice.

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[1] “Not all effects of the practice of meditation are beneficial. Shapiro (1992) found that 62.9% of the subjects in a Vipassana retreat reported adverse effects during and after meditation and 7.4% experienced profoundly adverse effects. The length of practice (from 16 to 105 months) did not make any difference to the quality and frequency of adverse effects. These adverse effects were relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical increases in tension; less motivation in life; boredom; pain; impaired reality testing; confusion and disorientation; feeling ‘spaced out‘; depression; increased negativity; being more judgmental; and, ironically, feeling addicted to meditation. Other adverse effects described (Craven, 1989) are uncomfortable kinesthetic sensations, mild dissociation, feelings of guilt and, via anxiety-provoking phenomena, psychosis-like symptoms, grandiosity, elation, destructive behaviour and suicidal feelings. Kutz et al. (1985a,b) described feelings of defenselessness, which in turn produce unpleasant affective experiences, such as fear, anger, apprehension and despair.” Alberto Perez-De-Abeniz and Jeremy Holmes, “Meditation: Concepts, Effects and Uses in Therapy,” International Journal of Psychotherapy 5.1 (2000): 49.

[2] Jennifer Scherer, “How a Melbourne yoga studio is helping heal veterans and emergency service workers,” SBS News (September 14, 2019).

[3] Ibid.