Book Review: Survivors on the Yoga Mat- Edited by Becky Thompson

Every day we hear of people dealing with trauma. Recently, there has been increased interest in alternative and complementary therapies to understand and treat trauma. Yoga has emerged as a highly effective addition to traditional trauma therapies. This book comprehensively gives insights on how yoga can help people with trauma and those who encounter trauma survivors.

Becky Thompson, a scholar, activist, yoga teacher and, a survivor of trauma herself, has known and celebrated the healing powers of yoga for years. Her new book, Survivors on the Yoga Mat is a collection of true stories and reflections for and from people who are healing from a range of traumas—sexual abuse, accidents, child abuse, war, illnesses, incarceration, and other injuries. These stories are alternately irreverent, funny, serious, insightful, and surprising, and, are helpful companions for people on the road to healing.
Survivors on the yoga mat

I am not a trauma survivor. I came to yoga because of complicated physical medical challenges. Yet – I experienced many moments of enlightenment in my journey. As Ms. Thompson states, moments that brought me “to a kinder, more whole place.” So yes I am convinced of yoga’s ability to shed light on your authentic self and expose you to yourself. For some, it exposes their trauma.

This book is not light reading. I can normally buzz through most books. Although each of the stories are short, there are numerous revealing deep insights into trauma. All which means that I needed time to pause and reflect often. The experiences are varied and reactions equally vast. The stories have brought me closer into a trauma survivor’s reality – and make me a better yoga teacher as a result. For this reason alone, yoga teachers must read this book.

For a trauma survivor this book is a guide and comfort. A guide into what their journey is and how yoga can help them. It is a comfort to feel that many others have experienced your pain and found a way to navigate healing. I appreciate that Ms Thompson has evaluated many yoga styles and suggests how they can be helpful from a trauma survivors point of view.

Ms Thompson believes that “healing takes place with communities of people who support us.” This book brings us into that community of healing.

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