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Yoga can be a tool that promotes well-being and fosters resilience. Yoga can strengthen survivors, support connection and collective responsibility, and even serve a role in trauma prevention. At the same time, we cannot ignore the potential for yoga to impart harm. In light of the #MeToo movement, we must recognize both yoga’s capacity for empowerment and resilience as well as acknowledge yoga’s place in a culture of sexual trauma. The current work explores yoga’s place in a sexual trauma context. We present empirical data demonstrating the benefits of yoga for survivors of sexual trauma and acknowledge the role of problematic power differentials in the yoga community. While we support the referral of clients to yoga practice, we advocate doing so in an informed and intentional way. We suggest best practices for client referrals and provide examples of empowered work going on in the yoga community. With integrity and through intentional and well-informed referral, we can support yoga that promotes accessibility, inclusion, and the potential for resilience in the wake of sexual trauma.
Rousseau is with the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA. Weiss-Lewit is with Liberation Prison Yoga, New York, NY. Lilly is with Each Amazing Breath, Street Yoga, Portland, OR.