Recently, the world has become acutely aware of the pervasive and ongoing problem of sexual assault.The revolutionary #metoo movement is potent in that it has unleashed the power to heal victims of sexual assault through the justice system. Healing is a complex process for sexual assault victims, and justice is simply one way to start. There is embodied trauma and a visceral psychological pain that necessitate somatic approaches that engage embodied trauma directly. In this vein and in solidarity with assault victims, we propose Yoga Therapy as a therapeutic modality for sexual trauma. The International Association of Yoga Therapists is a respected global organization that develops methods and promotes Yoga Therapy for a wide range of physical and mental disorders. Physicians and other healthcare professionals are fully involved in the work of the organization.
Statistics show one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives. Rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, which begs the question, how are women’s bodies healing from such sexual assault trauma?  Dr. Van Der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma highlights the effects of trauma and its imprint on somatic memory, rather than semantic memory.  The consequences of trauma result in bodily malfunctions, fragmentation of mind/body and one’s sense of wellbeing—something ordinary medicine cannot heal. Yoga presents an avenue that offers a redress to the lacunae of somatic therapies.
Ever since yoga’s initial introduction to the US by Swami Vivekananda at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, Yoga has forever changed Western cultural self-understanding. Yoga has been beneficial as a complex mindful-therapeutic practice used in medical and physical-therapy aimed at improved fitness and wellbeing. Its popularity has gained the worldwide attention of doctors, researchers, and social workers who see and value the original intended benefits of yoga to liberate one from psycho-somatic suffering.
Sexual assault is all-encompassing and damages every aspect of the self. To heal, the victim’s trauma must be transformed into self-agency. One can be restored and healed through the process of TIY, revealing a self that is qualitatively different from the one that existed prior to the assault.
We seek to cultivate co-constructive interreligious dialogue between Hinduism, Christianity, and Yoga Therapy on the problem of sexual assault. Sexual abuse cuts much deeper than any one religious or ideological worldview, therefore a pluralistic therapeutic language that is intelligible to people of diverse cultures and religions must be developed in order to heal sexual trauma. We aim to develop an ethically/philosophically informed TIY that is logistically and intellectually accessible to people of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.
Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind.
~Paṭaṇjali Yoga Sūtra I.2