Yoga Ashram

Sw. Ahimsa and her work

Ahimsa has been teaching yoga to war veterans and others with PTSD since 2004. She tours internationally, presenting workshops and retreats on yoga for recovery from stress and trauma. Her award-winning film, Heroes of Peace, tells the story of the war veterans yoga group she teaches. Ahimsa is the author of a unique book on the subject, Hope: How Yoga Heals the Scars of Trauma. 

Find out more about Ahimsa’s work on her websites: ​

South Hobart Yoga & Meditation & Life Beyond Trauma

View the award-winning film, Heroes of Peace

What is post-traumatic stress?
Following deep traumas, the nervous system can be ‘stuck’ in the stress response that was activated by the trauma. A range of disturbing, uncontrollable symptoms develop making it difficult to function normally. Outbursts of rage, insomnia, hypervigilance, emotional numbing, flashbacks, depression and anxiety are just a few of the debilitating effects. Avoiding triggers causes isolation, self-medication with alcohol and drugs is common and the breakdown of family, work and social structures mean that life can fall apart. Suicide may seem like the only way out. 


Terrorism survivor: Emma, Hobart 2016
After 10 years of counselling and increasing doses of medication I was finding little relief from my symptoms so I was advised to try yoga and meditation. I did have some short term relief but the modern group classes triggered my anxiety and the meditation caused flashbacks. Thinking I was unfixable I discovered Life Beyond Trauma, and Ahimsa.  I was interested in her work with trauma survivors and she seemed to really understand that to find relief from PTSD it needed a different and individual approach. I have found peace and calm for the first time in decades! I am a living example that through this system of yoga there can be a full recovery from trauma and that power of recovery lives inside every one of us.

Ex-policeman with PTSD: Rob, London 2016
In June 2016 I attended a one-day yoga workshop in London focusing on treating PTSD. It was run by Helen Cushing who works with a veterans’ group in Australia. I was worried about travelling to London to spend the day with a load of strangers from another world that I knew nothing about. I started to plan my usual excuses and nearly didn’t get on the train. I was anxious about going to a strange environment that I knew nothing about but in I walked and I am glad I did. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and I felt relaxed. 

Helen Cushing clearly understands PTSD and apart from yoga I also learned a lot of stuff that I didn’t understand about PTSD. The yoga was clearly explained and for me gave me some strong practical coping mechanisms and hopefully treatment options. I picked up techniques to clear my head of intrusive thoughts and live in the moment focusing on the positive simple things around you. Simple breathing techniques are also a valuable tool as well as meditation and simple low impact yoga postures to help with breathing. I would say put the cynicism behind you and give it a go, it could well be a life saver.

Middle East War Veteran: Joshua, Hobart 2014
The breathing is the biggest help. It stops the hypervigilance.
I found yoga nidra to be better than any medication. To maintain myself I need to practise daily. Yoga nidra has enabled me to have a helpful, non-medicated mind.

Vietnam War Veterans: Hobart 2014
I decided that by using yoga I was going to get off all medication. I gradually reduced the amount of tablets I was taking. I don’t take medication at all now. That happened solely due to yoga.
Yoga is something you can take home with you and use it whenever the stress starts. Before yoga, stress was all I knew, it was the norm.
I have had much and varied counselling over the years, but yoga offers me the most benefits. 
Yoga came along at the right time and saved my life, without any doubt.

Family violence survivor: Sara, Hobart 2016
I’ve had complex PTSD for around 30 years. This caused me to have a lot of psychosomatic problems such as frequent migraines and I had a heart attack when I was 35 which was attributed to the PTSD. I was also in chronic pain in my muscles and joints as well as the usual nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance and insomnia – I had also felt suicidal off and on for over 30 years.

I began doing yoga with Ahimsa in February 2016 in the hope of being ‘better’ as I was very unhealthy physically and was very flat and low from having an average of 3 migraines a week and taking lots of Codeine tablets for the pain. Conventional treatment had given some help but no cure and the prognosis wasn’t exactly bright for me

Within a couple of weeks of starting yoga my migraines had practically disappeared and I could stop taking the strong painkillers – I never filled the prescription I had as I didn’t need them anymore. The physical aches and pains went away and my quality of life improved 100% within weeks of daily practice – just from being pain free.

I also had Sherman’s Disease in my back which had caused deformity, but after 9 months of daily practice my posture is completely different and the curvature hugely reduced. I also became much fitter because I was breathing properly for the first time.

That is just the physical aspect which was considerable and freed me from chronic and severe pain, but the psychological and emotional benefits were even better. As my husband says I just process and handle stress completely differently now. I am a million miles away from suicidal thoughts and feel optimistic about my future and the things I am now able to do.

Yoga Nidra really pulls me back into wholeness and stops me feeling shattered when stressful things happen. Since I began practicing Yoga both my father and mother died within months of each other, so it hasn’t been an easy stage of life for me at all. Daily practice of yoga and yoga nidra has really helped me to come through this without physical pain, rage or just feeling blown to pieces by emotion and events. When these things happen I can now do my practice and within a short time feel peaceful, whole and able to cope.

Yoga has worked for me in a truly holistic way as it has healed me on all levels from the physical pain and illness to the spiritual wounding of abuse. I now sleep through the night for months straight without any medication which happened as a side effect of becoming calmer overall. I don’t get triggered like I used to because the ‘sore spots’ of trauma are becoming neutralised and resolved – sometimes consciously, sometimes I just realise it has gone away without me noticing.

Daily practice is essential. Staying committed to doing my routine every day has been good discipline and a daily commitment to myself, my health and my future. It also makes me feel good when I’m doing it and has drastically improved my quality of life overall.

Victim, Colombian civil war
I was afraid to go out on the street, I didn’t even leave the house. I started going out about I month ago. I think I go out now because of yoga.

Ex-militant, Colombian civil war
When I didn’t know yoga, I felt a lot of guilt and deep shame. Yoga has an enormous power that has helped me to take better paths and feel more love towards people. Even if the war leaves scars that are difficult to heal, yoga makes you forget about the evil.

Rocklyn Yoga Ashram, operated by Yoga Association of Victoria Inc. as an autonomous entity,
remains committed to the tradition of Satyananda Yoga and continues the teachings under
the banner of Satyananda Yoga by arrangement with the IYFM.