Trauma Informed Therapeutic Yoga Program for Bhutanese Torture Survivors – A Community Initiative.

Trauma Informed Therapeutic Yoga Program for Bhutanese Torture Survivors – A Community Initiative.


This paper discusses the process and outcome of a community-based participatory recovery program that emerged as a product of community initiation. BHUMMATSS (Bhutanese Martyrs memorial and Torture survivors’ society) identified therapeutic yoga as culturally appropriate and beneficial for their wellbeing and pain management. A follow up consultation and needs assessment with the community members lead to the development of a trauma recovery program that included therapeutic yoga, mindfulness,
psychoeducation and Bhutanese folk-based dance.

Two pilot programs were conducted for a six-month period until June’18 on a weekly basis to thirty clients. A STTARS counsellor, who is also a qualified yoga instructor, facilitated the programs with the support of an interpreter. The group was largely driven by
the BHUMMATSS community, who were proactive in organising and managing the logistics of the group and supporting the program at all stages. The program focussed on supporting participants to learn and reconnect to their skills of mind- body awareness,
emotional regulation and pain management based on yoga therapy principles.

The program was a success based on the consistent participant numbers throughout the sessions, along with self- reported psychological data (verbal and written questionnaires) reports of significant decrease in physical pain, increased sense of body relaxation and calmness of mind. Community also identified dancing to the folk music supported them in reconnecting to the
positive memories of their country and culture.

To achieve sustainability and continued practice approach, future sessions will also focus on supporting and training members within the group to become facilitators of the program. The program is a product of effective community engagement and highlights
the role of bottom-up participatory approach in developing a recovery program. There is scope for this program to be expanded into a wider population within diverse refugee backgrounds.

My List