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Emotional trauma profoundly affects our well-being, manifesting in both our minds and bodies in ways that can limit our capacity for joy and connection. Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) provide a powerful pathway out of this state, leveraging the body’s natural mechanisms for releasing deep-seated tension and trauma. This article introduces 10 somatic exercises designed to facilitate this healing process, providing a pathway to recovery and emotional liberation.

What Is TRE?

TRE involves a series of exercises that trigger the body’s inherent trembling response, a natural reflex mechanism for discharging muscular tension and calming the nervous system. This process is instrumental in reducing stress, anxiety, and the emotional impacts of trauma, offering a path to profound healing and recovery.

For deeper insight into TRE, visit the TRE® (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises) official website or consult resources provided by the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute.

The Science Behind Somatic Exercises

Somatic exercises bridge the gap between mind and body, utilizing movement and breath to facilitate the release of stored tension and trauma. Grounded in the latest neuroscience and psychological research, these practices illuminate how trauma affects the body and demonstrate how targeted physical exercises can kickstart the healing process.

Explore educational materials from the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute for a comprehensive understanding of the science behind these methods.

The Connection Between Physical and Emotional Healing

Trauma doesn’t just dwell in the mind; it’s also encoded in our muscles and tissues, often manifesting as chronic pain, tension, and other physical symptoms. Somatic exercises enable us to access and release this stored trauma, underscoring the profound connection between our physical state and emotional wellbeing.

Preparing for TRE: Safety and Guidelines

Creating a safe and supportive environment is crucial for a beneficial TRE practice. This section offers essential advice for embarking on your trauma release journey with mindfulness and care.

Creating a Safe Space

The physical and emotional safety you create around your TRE practice significantly impacts its effectiveness. Choose a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed. Ensure you have soft mats or blankets to support your body as you move through the exercises.

Listening to Your Body

Tuning into your body’s signals is essential during TRE. If you experience discomfort or overwhelming emotions, allow yourself to pause and breathe. Remember, the goal is gentle release, not pushing through pain or distress.


10 Somatic Exercises to Release Trauma

  1. Grounding Techniques

    • Finding Stability and Presence: Before beginning TRE, establish a sense of grounding. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, feeling the earth support you. Breathe deeply into your belly, envisioning roots growing from your feet into the ground. This practice fosters a sense of stability and presence, essential for trauma release.
  2. Breath Work

    • Deep Breathing for Tension Release: Controlled breathing signals safety to your nervous system, preparing you for deeper work. Inhale slowly for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four, and hold again for four. This pattern, known as box breathing, can reduce stress and create an inner calm, setting the stage for effective trauma release.
  3. Pelvic Tilts

    • Engaging the Core of Trauma Release: The pelvis is a key area where the body holds tension. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Gently arch your lower back, then flatten it against the floor. This motion releases tension in the lower back and pelvic area, promoting emotional and physical release.
  4. Leg Shakes

    • Releasing Lower Body Tension: While lying on your back, lift your legs slightly and begin to shake them gently, allowing the movement to originate from your hips. This exercise mimics the body’s natural response to stress, helping to release deep-seated tension in the lower body.
  5. Hip Opening Exercises

    • Unlocking Emotional Baggage: The hips are a common repository for emotional trauma. Gentle hip-opening exercises, such as the butterfly pose, can facilitate the release of this tension. Sit with the soles of your feet together, knees dropped to the sides, and lean forward from your hips to deepen the stretch.
  6. Spinal Twists

    • Easing the Backbone of Stress: Spinal twists can release tension along the spine, promoting relaxation throughout the central nervous system. Lying on your back, bring your knees to your chest, then gently drop them to one side while turning your head to the opposite side, stretching both the spine and the muscles around it.
  7. Arm Shakes and Stretches

    • Releasing Upper Body Stress: Stress and trauma often accumulate in the shoulders and arms. Shaking your arms vigorously, then stretching them gently, can help release these tensions, fostering a sense of release and lightness.
  8. Butterfly Pose

    • Opening Up to Healing: This gentle pose helps open the hips, a crucial area for trauma storage. By sitting with the soles of your feet together and knees apart, you can gently lean forward, encouraging the hips to open and release stored emotions.
  9. Child’s Pose

    • Embracing Comfort and Calm: Child’s Pose is a deeply nurturing position that signals safety to the nervous system. From a kneeling position, extend your arms forward and rest your forehead on the ground, allowing your body to release tension and embrace a sense of comfort and calm.
  10. Savasana with Guided Visualization

    • Integrating Relaxation and Healing: Finish your practice with Savasana, lying flat on your back with your arms and legs slightly spread. Incorporate guided visualization, imagining a wave of relaxation sweeping over your body, to integrate the benefits of the exercises and deepen your sense of peace and wellbeing.

Implementing TRE into Your Routine

Building a Consistent Practice

Incorporating TRE into your daily or weekly routine can amplify its benefits. Start with short sessions, gradually increasing the duration as your body acclimates to the exercises. Consistency is key to unlocking the profound healing potential of TRE.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Practices

Keeping a journal of your experiences with TRE can provide valuable insights into your healing journey. Note any changes in your physical or emotional state, and adjust your practice as needed to suit your evolving needs.

Additional Resources

For those seeking to deepen their understanding of TRE and somatic exercises, reputable sources like the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute and the Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute offer a wealth of information. Additionally, the official TRE® website provides guidance and resources for individuals exploring these practices.

Get Support With Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) Through Trauma Release Therapy (TRT)

Embarking on the path of Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) complemented by Trauma Release Therapy (TRT) marks a powerful journey towards healing from emotional trauma. These practices, rooted in the wisdom of the body’s natural healing abilities, offer a profound opportunity for individuals to reclaim a sense of freedom, peace, and emotional wholeness. By integrating TRE with the supportive guidance of TRT, individuals can navigate the complexities of trauma with greater ease and effectiveness, ensuring a compassionate and tailored approach to healing.

This guide has been meticulously crafted to act as both a beacon of hope and a practical manual for those seeking to explore the transformative potential of trauma release exercises. We encourage you to approach this journey with openness, patience, and self-compassion, allowing the process to unfold at a pace that honors your unique path to recovery. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Support and resources are available to guide you towards a future marked by emotional resilience and liberation.

As part of our commitment to supporting your healing journey, we work closely with a network of experienced TRT therapists. We are happy to offer recommendations for TRT professionals near you or facilitate access to supportive online sessions. Whether you prefer face-to-face therapy or the convenience of online support, our network is equipped to meet your needs, providing personalized care and guidance.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your healing journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to connect you with the resources and support that resonate with your personal path to recovery. Together, we can explore the transformative potential of TRE and TRT, guiding you towards a life characterized by greater emotional freedom and wholeness.


Written by Jordan Buchan

Jordan is the founder of Conscious Cues. Her work is centered around the mind-body connection as it is explored through neuroscience, yoga, meditation, and other healing practices.