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Recreation and Self Care for Survivors

Recreation & Self Care for Survivors

Recreation and Self Care for Survivors [image of person doing yoga on a beach, image of a pair of people hiking up a mountain]

Experiencing trauma (such as sexual assault or domestic abuse) may have lasting effects that interfere with survivors’ daily lives. Although many different mental practices can aid in the healing process: such as therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or meditation, some survivors may find that a physical alternative for their healing journey works for them. With several different trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive studios and gyms in the area and online classes, trauma-sensitive exercise is more accessible than ever.

Trauma-informed means the person guiding/teaching the class will recognize the presence of trauma symptoms or the possibility of symptoms and take steps to avoid any triggering behaviors, procedures, or practices (Rockville, 2014). The nature of being trauma-informed is to avoid rigid policies and seek to evolve practices based on feedback and the circumstances of the individuals served.

One practice that has led the way in creating trauma informed spaces are trauma-sensitive yoga practices. Trauma-sensitive yoga (TSY) has been researched and correlated with lessening the effects of PTSD in those who practice it. These classes or studios utilize yoga as part of the healing process and teach students to incorporate components of trauma-sensitive yoga into survivors’ lives. TSY includes movements intended to maximize empowerment and cultivate a positive connection to one’s body. Importantly, this form of yoga is “touch-free” and avoids all hands-on physical adjustments to participants’ physical form. TSY “presents opportunities for participants to be in charge of themselves based on a felt sense of their own body.” TSY has been validated as an effective treatment for complex trauma and PTSD in a study including military/veteran survivors (Zaccari, Sherman, Higgins and Ann Kelly, 2022). TSY provides a path for healing the mind and body connection. HAVEN has had TSY support groups in the past and is working on starting another group, so stay tuned!

Trauma Sensitive Yoga In NH:

True North Healing Center – True North, located in Bedford, NH, utilizes a trauma-informed approach to yoga and other exercise practices. True North encourages a combination approach to therapy and movement to guide participants to the healthiest version of themselves. True North emphasizes the benefits of yoga as “it increases mindfulness, mind-body connection, and decreases stress.” Go to their website for more information, or call 603-696-4872.

Yoga In Action: Yoga in Action offers trauma-informed yoga classes for free virtually and in person in Dover, NH, as well as various events throughout the year. This organization strives to offer accessible classes to guide participants’ healing process. Access their website to learn more.

GateWay Taiji, Qigong, & Yoga: Instructors here studied TSY in order to provide trauma-centered and informed practice in their classes. Located in Portsmouth, this studio offers other forms of exercise and movement in a safe environment with an open-door policy. In-person as well as online classes are offered at this time. Go to their website or call 603-610-9395 for more information.

Online Trauma Sensitive Yoga Classes:

Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) – access their website or email for more information.

Abhaya Yoga offers online classes for $10 a week using techniques taught by TCTSY.

The trauma-informed Yoga Series is free on YouTube!

The Trauma-Conscious Yoga Method is a YouTube channel that provides free trauma-conscious yoga.

Below are resources for female-identifying survivors, such as women-only gyms and self-defense, catered toward women’s empowerment.

Other classes intended for survivors:

Safe Haven Ballet – Founded by Lissa Curtis, Save Haven Ballet serves the community by offering free trauma-sensitive ballet, movement, and art classes for survivors of violence and trauma every week (check their website or Facebook page for the updated dates and times!). This class promotes a strong relationship with HAVEN by including the option and resources to call a HAVEN advocate on the phone at any time during class.

Women’s Only Gyms

Seacoast Women’s Fitness – this studio offers small-group personal training and nutritional counseling for people who identify as women. The trainers customize each plan to each individual and work tirelessly to create a “safe, supportive, and comfortable atmosphere.” Go to their website or contact them at 603-379-2534 for more details.

Evofit Women’s Bootcamp – Led by Heather Dewitt, this studio aims to help women in the Dover community gain empowerment, a healthy lifestyle and muscle, of course! Additionally, the current members have created a strong, supportive social network and community to uplift one another and provide encouragement to reach goals. All people identifying as women are welcome! Access the website or call (603) 343-4078 for more information.

Martial Arts for Veterans

Portsmouth Aikido – This studio offers free Aikido classes twice a month for veterans and active duty military personnel. The techniques they offer focus on stress reduction and non-violent conflict resolution. Previous clients have commended their program for helping them find self-regulation techniques to heal from their trauma. Classes are offered on the second and fourth classes of the month from 10:30 am-noon. Uniforms are provided.

As the world becomes more accessible and connected, there is no time like the present to start our journey to healing and cultivating our connection to our best selves. There are countless other videos and free online resources to explore trauma-sensitive or trauma-informed yoga or other exercise methods. Have a look and find what works best for you, as it is well known there is no “one size fits all” for healing.

If working out in a group setting is not your speed, here is an excellent resource if you are interested in creating your own at-home exercise routine. How to Create a Trauma-Sensitive Home Exercise Routine. The internet offers many free online classes, but honoring oneself and cultivating a healthy path to healing is essential.

HAVEN strives to offer support, information, and access to area support to anyone impacted by sexual violence, assault, domestic abuse, or stalking. Survivors can access HAVEN advocates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for support through our hotline 1(603) 994-SAFE . Not comfortable using the phone? We also now have a “chat with an advocate” via our website where during our office hours, Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 4 PM, you can use an instant messaging feature to talk with an advocate at! Reach out at any time. We are here to help.


Rockville. (2014). Chapter 1 Trauma-Informed Care: A Sociocultural Perspective. In Trauma-informed care in Behavioral Health Services (Ser. 57). essay, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.


Zaccari, B., Sherman, A. D. F., Higgins, M., & Ann Kelly, U. (2022, July 14). Trauma center trauma-sensitive yoga versus cognitive processing therapy for women veterans with PTSD who experienced military sexual trauma: A feasibility study. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Retrieved July 27, 2022, from

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