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EMBODY: Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga to Treat PTSD in Minoritized Women in a Safety Net Hospital
Principal Investigators: Ursula Kelly, PhD, APRN, ANP-BC, PMHNP-BC and Abigail Powers Lott, PhD, ABPP
What is sexual trauma and its common effects? 

Sexual trauma includes exposure to any sexually inappropriate behaviors that cause a person to experience a great deal of fear or stress. When you experience a sexual trauma, it can impact your emotions, your body, and how you experience yourself and others. Experiencing sexual trauma can also increase your risk for negative health outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

What is trauma-sensitive yoga and why might it be helpful for women who have experienced sexual trauma?

Trauma-sensitive yoga is a gentle practice that includes breath control, mindfulness, and moving through simple bodily postures that promote health and relaxation. Unlike traditional yoga practices, trauma-sensitive yoga moves away from language and postures that may be triggering for women who have experienced sexual trauma. Key features of trauma-sensitive yoga include avoiding triggering postures, focusing on linking breath with movement, building body awareness and self-regulation, and using invitational rather than commanding language. This means that you can choose what you want to do with your body throughout the class. Yoga interventions have been found to be helpful for a wide range of mental and physical health problems, including depression and PTSD. Trauma-sensitive yoga may be particularly helpful for women who have experienced sexual trauma because it may help to improve distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and dysfunction of the body’s stress response, which each contribute to trauma-related psychological outcomes like PTSD and depression.


What is the goal of this study?  


The purpose of this study is to pilot a trauma-sensitive yoga intervention for minoritized women in the Grady community who are experiencing PTSD following a sexual trauma. The study will examine the feasibility and acceptability of an 10-session yoga intervention that is trauma-sensitive and culturally responsive in its approach.


What is the treatment?


The treatment consists of weekly group-based yoga sessions spanning the course of 10 consecutive weeks. Each session lasts 40-60 minutes and is currently being held over Zoom. During this treatment you will learn strategies to improve awareness of feelings, thoughts, and body sensations, and move gently through poses that improve your physical health and response to stress.

What are we measuring and how? 


Before, during, and after the intervention, the study will collect several types of clinical data. Before the first yoga session, a clinician will do an interview asking about trauma, PTSD, depression, and other physical and psychological symptoms. You will also be asked to answer questions about your symptoms halfway through the study as well and two weeks and three months after the yoga sessions have ended.


Who are our participants? 

If you self-identify as a woman (over 18 years old) receiving care at Grady Memorial Hospital and have experienced sexual trauma, you may be eligible. You can fill out a referral form on our website (

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