Empowerment Yoga

Combines elements from Trauma Sensitive Yoga and partners with elements from empowerment theory and feminist theory to provide an opportunity for survivors of

 trauma to reconnect with their bodies.  Not sure if you have experienced trauma, but want to give this class a try?  That’s okay too.  Empowerment Yoga is open to all students looking for a practice that will assist in restoring the mind-body connection.  Contact Meagan Collins by email at meagancollins@ku.edu or by phone at (785)864-6830 to learn more, sign up, and confirm the location.

Trauma Sensitive Yoga

Developed by a team of clinical psychologists and researchers in Brookline, Massachusetts at the Trauma Center, Trauma Sensitive Yoga is a mind-body approach to treatment-resistant PTSD that has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of dysregulation. (van der Kolk et al, 2014; Spinazzola et. al, 2011.)

Empowerment Theory

A theory of practice that treats individuals as capable of gaining mastery over their own lives and issues.  Empowerment theory looks to environmental influences of social problems, and seeks to provide individuals opportunities to increase wellness in the face oppressive social forces. (Perkins and Zimmerman, 1995).

Feminist Theory

A theory of practice that incorporates the feminist perspective that men and women should be equal politically, economically, and socially.  By exposing the ways in which historically, women and feminine individuals have experienced oppression, feminist theory serves to empower individuals to reclaim their inherent power and worth in relationship to others.


Usually when we think of the word trauma, we think of “big t” trauma—traumas like surviving a near fatal car accident or a natural disaster.  We might also think of traumas such as experiencing physical violence, emotional violence, and sexual violence.

Such events, while distressing, are not the only kind of traumas a person can experience. Because of the way the brain interprets danger to survival, and because of the way the body responds to that danger, events we might consider commonplace can actually trigger a trauma response.  In fact, such “little t” traumas can have a pretty big effect on the body and brain, especially when they happen repeatedly, over a long time (Herman 1997).

Some examples of little t traumas include:*

  • Being microaggressed or catcalled
  • Surviving and thriving in a racist world
  • Being asked invasive questions about your gender expression
  • Deciding whether to come out to your family
  • Wondering where you’re going to get your next meal
  • Living out your values when they go against cultural norms
  • Living in high stress environments
  • Experiencing heartbreak

*This list is incomplete.  Any experience that elevates a person’s level of stress beyond their personal window of tolerance might be considered a trauma.  Because each body is different, what is traumatic for one person might not be traumatic for another person, and vice versa.  Only an individual can decide for themself what events constitute a trauma.


Perkins and Zimmerman (1995). Empowerment Theory, Research, and Application. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23 (5), 569-570.

Spinazzola et. al (2011). Application of Yoga in Residential Treatment of Traumatized Youth. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 17(6)431-444.

van der kolk et. al (2014). Yoga as an Adjunctive Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 75(00) e1.

Herman, J. L. (1997). Trauma and recovery. New York: BasicBooks.

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