The Complex PTSD Workbook:

Yoga offers an opportunity to reframe your relationship to discomfort as an awakening of the heart. This activity brings present, centered attention to the body, breath, and mind. The aim is to meet your “edge” of sensation by holding postures just long enough so that your mind is compelled to pay attention.

If you hold too far back from the edge, you will have too little sensation to work with and the practice will remain superficial. Signs that you are going over your edge are the loss of connection to your breath or a sensation of sharp pain. Pay attention to these signals to avoid hurting yourself.


In yoga, you’ll learn to listen carefully to the wisdom of your body. As you deepen into postures, you might notice that fear arises. You may want to run.


You have a choice to either stay with your experience or back away. You might feel irritable or uncomfortable. Often, staying with the sensations of your edge can create powerful internal change.


You might experience a surge of emotion or a desire to move your body to release a buildup of sensations. The aim is to surrender to this experience.


My training in Kripalu yoga emphasized that will and surrender are polarities that need to exist in balance. Like two wings of a bird, they need to function in tandem to create flight.

Too much force and you risk becoming rigid and hard. Too much emphasis on surrender and you risk becoming stagnant or overflexible.


Yoga postures that are part of a willful practice include warrior poses, heart openers, and balancing postures. Yoga postures that emphasize surrender include child’s pose, forward folds, and restful yogic relaxation practices.


When you pay attention to your body, you will get feedback about when to push yourself and when to soften. Is there a sharp pain? Are you holding your breath? These are signs to back off. Do you feel tired or uninterested? Does your posture feel dull?


These are signs to deepen your practice and engage in a new challenge. The most important part of the practice is your commitment to listen honestly to your sensations and emotions.

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