“Knowing how to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and socially is one of the most valuable lessons we can learn.”

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Nederland has started the journey of informing schools of trauma-informed ways of working and is offering Trauma-Sensitive Yoga to pupils/teachers. Children/young adults are experiencing backlog regarding their school work, however, they might experience this pressure as unsafe. The Self-Care Yoga Schools Project wants to reach out and offer help with finding safety within schools, especially when it has been challenging to find safety at home. The project is tailored to every school and is developed in collaboration with the teachers and the pupils.

Why is a trauma-sensitive approach needed in schools?

Impactful, traumatic experiences are extremely common with pupils from all types of backgrounds. These experiences can have an enormous impact on the growth and development of a pupil’s brain and it is possible that this as a result disturbs their thinking, ways of feeling and behaviour. The constant stress that might come with that, can be damaging, especially when the pupil hasn’t received or experienced safety and trust from an adult.

The result may be that the pupil experiences difficulty with learning and building social relationships with other pupils. Teachers may experience their job as difficult or challenging, due to a pupil’s perhaps difficulty with learning and concentrating, or even become unaware of what they might be able to do for the pupil. The traumatic experiences of the pupil have a possibility to impact teachers unconsciously as well. This isn’t something that happens “on purpose”, it can however be a way of dealing with the trauma that the pupil might be experiencing or has experienced.

The good news is that growth and healing are possible. What pupils that might experience this need, and perhaps all pupils need, is specific support to assist the feeling of safety at school, making it possible for the pupil to find space to focus on learning, and learning how to regulate emotions.

*The Self-Care Yoga Schools Project

What these pupils may need is specific support with feeling safe enough at school to be able to learn, and to learn how to regulate and perhaps experience their own emotions. Self-Care Yoga aims to include both of these aspects. Through enough positive relational experiences, in particular with adults such as teachers, pupils may be able to build trust and safety within themselves and towards others. Paying attention and awareness to self-care, stress relief and the regulation of emotions are important components of Self-Care Yoga. The beautiful thing is that not only pupils who are experiencing trauma, but also pupils that experience stress in any other way, may benefit from this approach.

How does it work?

What we know from research is that recovery from major events can be felt and experienced through the body. The unique thing about The Self-Care Yoga Schools Project* is that pupils together with their teacher/mentor are able to experience what it’s like to make their own choices and explore regaining control over their own body and emotions, within as safely as possible setting and through exploring and noticing movement. Participants don’t have to explain anything with words, and they are welcome to not tell their stories. By moving in a trauma-sensitive way, the pupil is able to explore together with their teacher and the facilitator, what is happening in their body, and learn to become aware of any sensations in the body, completely on their own tempo. At the same time, the situation invites you to start building on trusting yourself and others, and it can positively affect the atmosphere of safety within the classroom. The five core themes for this intervention are: inviting language, no coercion, making choices, interoception and shared authentic experience.

Pupils may experience the following:

  • Learning to be present in the moment
  • Practising making choices
  • Experiencing taking effective action
  • Feel your environment, becoming aware of your environment
  • Learning to feel the difference between tensing and relaxing your muscles
  • Connecting with your body and your environment through breath

*The Self-Care Yoga Schools Project is completely based on Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) and is facilitated by qualified TCTSY facilitators. To make this yoga as accessible as possible for schools, we have chosen to use the title Self-Care. This intervention is not a quick fix, it is an investment in the well-being of the pupils and the general climate of safety for everyone.

Pupils from the age of 10 are welcome to participate. 


Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) is an empirically validated trauma therapy from the United States that has been used as part of interventions in schools more often. Since 2014, it is recognised as adjunctive therapy for treating PTSD, complex trauma and developmental trauma. It is based on trauma theory, attachment theory and neuroscience. You can find more information here about what Trauma-Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga is.

The Self-Care Yoga Schools Project exists out of:

Esther van der Sande: TCTSY Facilitator, owner of TSY-Nederland, psychotherapist, consultant & trainer. You can contact Esther at: esther@traumasensitiveyoganederland.com

Hilda Kandil-Balog: Initiator TSY-Nederland Self-Care Yoga Schools Project, TCTSY Facilitator, Special Educationalist and trainer. You can contact Hilda at: info@traumasensitiveyoganederland.com

Nicole Renne: TSY-Nederland Intake and Project Coordinator and Psychosocial Counselor. You can contact us at: support@traumasensitiveyoganederland.com

You’re welcome to learn and explore more about the Self-Care Yoga Schools Project,  for the Dutch translation of the pdf brochure please click here.