Program evaluation of trauma-informed yoga for vulnerable populations

Deanne C. Tibbitts, Sue A. Aicher, Judith Sugg, Kimberlee Handloser, Liz Eisman, Lauren D. Booth, Ryan D. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Trauma is highly prevalent among vulnerable populations, including those who are incarcerated, in treatment for substance use, or seeking mental health services. Trauma-informed yoga seeks to create a safer yoga practice for individuals with a trauma history and may improve emotional and physical wellbeing. Thus, we conducted an evaluation of a trauma-informed yoga program to gain insight into participant experiences. Methods: Trauma-informed yoga classes were led by trained volunteers and held in three sectors that work with vulnerable populations: corrections and reentry, substance use treatment and recovery, and community and mental health. Data were collected via anonymous survey using a retrospective pre-post design. The survey instrument captured reasons for student participation and perceived effects of yoga on emotional and physical wellbeing. Results: Students were motivated to participate in yoga classes by expectations of physical, mental, and spiritual benefit. Students reported perceived improvements in emotional and physical wellbeing and greater use of self-regulation skills after starting yoga. Conclusion: Our findings suggest trauma-informed yoga is perceived as beneficial by vulnerable individuals, especially those in the correctional system or recovering from substance use. Our results support the value of offering trauma-informed yoga in institutionalized and community settings. Improvements in emotional and physical wellbeing warrant formal study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101946
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Post-traumatic
  • Prisoners
  • Program evaluation
  • Psychological trauma
  • Stress disorders
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Yoga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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