Trauma releasing exercises

Update: In Feb. 2011, I started my Chronic Stress and Trauma Recovery Challenge. Click the link to read about it. If you’ve done them even once, I’d love for you to comment on your experience(s).


I wrote about them in my earlier post entitled “Another Book Influences Meditation,” about the book The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process by David Berceli.

I’ve been doing David Berceli’s trauma releasing exercises a couple of times a week for over a month now. This morning I did them and changed it up a bit: during the seventh exercise, when I was lying on my back, knees bent, soles on floor, my legs were cycling through bouts of shaking and stillness. During the still periods, I could feel an electric current running through my legs, and then the shaking would begin again.

This time on impulse, I raised my forearms straight up and just gave my hands a little shake. Immediately, involuntary shaking began in my forearms, which lasted some time. Even when my legs cycled into stillness, my forearms kept shaking.

(Note: When I spontaneously released the blockages from an old trauma while reading Waking the Tiger, my forearms as well as my legs shook, and there was a pins-and-needles sensation from the elbows down and the waist down. Haven’t encountered that sensation again.)

Then I raised my entire arms from the shoulders, and man, they just took off with the shaking. Eventually my right shoulder, but not my left, was also shaking.

This without deliberately stressing my arm muscles the  way I do my leg muscles to incite shaking.

I shook for 20 minutes, and then I meditated.

Soon I realized that the parts of my body that had been shaking (legs, arms, and right shoulder) felt distinctively different from the parts that didn’t shake. The shaken parts felt lighter and cleaner, as if something heavy and a little murky had cleared out of my body.

Further incentive to keep doing these — I would like to experience all the parts of  my body shaking, releasing stress and trauma, and feeling light and clean again.

The Q’ero believe only humans accumulate hucha. They remove it using breathing techniques. The Q’ero probably have never encountered anything like the stressful lives we modern Americans live. (I mentioned hucha and breathing techniques in an earlier post called “Body Scanning Practices.”)

Trauma releasing exercises release vast amounts of hucha.

They also have an effect similar to Carlos Casteneda’s description of recapitulation — you release “other” unclean energy and reclaim “your” clean energy, but without having to dredge up memories one by one and fan your head back and forth with your breathing.

No images, no sounds, no words are required with Berceli’s exercises. They are a purely kinesthetic way of releasing hucha/trauma.

That makes them elegant and accessible.

29 thoughts on “Trauma releasing exercises

  1. Aloha love, so glad you are experimenting with TRE; I am finding some amazing body sensations, all sorts and forms of tremors, shakes, shivers, rocking … some I never knew my body was capable of … even spontaneously went into Fire Breath tonight … after doing Ha Prayer with ENLP group; missed you. Hope to share more TRE stories and see you again soon.


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  4. I’m glad to hear about the arm shaking as I started having that too. I have the TRE video and I didn’t see any of that, only leg and pelvis, and sometimes some upper torso movement. I sometimes put my arms together in like a “prayer” position and that gets it going easily. Question…do you ever get a lot of shaking in one or both feet? I have been. Also, I was wondering if it is best to just allow the parts that are shaking the most to do their thing, or to try and get it more balanced, in a sense, or maybe more rhythmic. For example, if I lean on my right side my right leg/pelvis and left ab goes into intense shaking, but if I lean on my left side my left foot goes nuts. Is it “better” to try and balance it out, or just trust that what needs to shake will?


    • Learnt the TRE technique from a friend. After my 4th session (last night) I got up and my body started swaying at the hips, then shoulders went made, neck went into awesome neck rolls (felt a lot like yoga) and then an intense feeling from the centre of my belly, rolling upwards. Went on for at least an hour before I eventually went to bed to sleep. Just the one hand kept doing a little shake.
      This morning on my way to work, my neck started rolling. Once at work I was standing telling my friend about this when my entire body started swaying and all morning (at least the last 4 hours) have been spent with my neck going into involantary neck rolls, shoulder rolls, back stretches,. It has finally stopped, but I am just a bit concerned. What does this mean?


      • It means you are unfreezing and coming alive, Jen! Do it as much as you can when it feels right. Enjoy and know it will eventually slow and become “more voluntary” when you’ve released more of your stress. Awesome to hear from you!


      • Wow, thanks for getting back to me so soon – you have put my mind at ease. My friend and I were laughing hysterically this morning as it just wouldn’t stop and then we started getting a little worried that it would NEVER stop. But this afternoon has been fine and when it starts again I will know it is normal and let it out!
        Keep well


  5. Sue, it sounds like you are in deep recovery mode. I haven’t experienced a lot of shaking in my feet, but maybe that’s because they’re on the floor???

    I think it’s probably better to just trust that what needs to shake will shake. AND you can also notice what happens if you position yourself differently… As long as you aren’t repressing the shaking, it’s doing its job.


  6. I ordered the video and It arrived yesterday. I tried the exercises for a second time today. I did the preparatory stretches and then did the wall position. Leaning against the wall I just tried to get deeper into my breathing, but for the longest time very little happened. I was having little tremors, but they still felt half-way forced. Then gradually, after about seven minutes, some real trembling and shaking started. The more relaxed I became the more pronounced they were. I had no control over them at all. I almost felt like shouting down to my wife to come upstairs and see what was happening, because it was so strange. Just overall, rapid involuntary tremors in my legs, through my pelvis and along my torso. They went on and on for at least ten minutes. Then I tried the lying position and it was less successful. Still, I’m grateful I tried and I’ll keep doing them.


    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s good you hung in there long enough for the real trembling and shaking to begin. It’s so amazing that the more relaxed you are, the more your body can let go!

      How did you feel afterwards?


  7. Reblogged this on The Well: bodymindheartspirit and commented:

    I’m reposting this post. It’s gotten a lot of view in the more than two years since I wrote it, and two people have recently said they do these exercises and shake as a way to recover from insomnia. Some mornings I wake up and know my body is feeling some stress and needs to shake. It makes my day better.


  8. I just discovered TRE. I’m doing it because I feel like I’ve retained a lot of emotional trauma from childhood and beyond that has really stalled me. Today is day 2 and the impact is undeniable. I feel relaxed, less emotional….and today, a bit sleepy and out of it. I once felt like this after a deep tissue massage. I’m thinking maybe I should do them at night when I don’t have to concentrate on my surroundings too much. Today when I was driving, I made a bad judgement call with another car approaching on a rotary (yet didn’t get stressed about it, haha! ) because I was just a little too loopy. I’m usually over-alert. Anybody else having a similar experience of feeling relaxed, yet perhaps a bit drained? Maybe it’s just for now, as I release pent up tension. I’m really enjoying the different sensations. I’m going to stick with this program! Some of the other experiences here sound amazing as well.


    • It’s pretty amazing work, isn’t it, Suzanne? Be careful. The TRE exercises can really change your state. The relaxation is healthy. Just let yourself become alert enough afterwards to drive and function safely, no matter when you do them.

      Several people have said they do them at night when they are having trouble sleeping. They say the exercises are really effective for insomnia, for draining the tension that is keeping them awake.

      When I started doing them, I would shake for 20 minutes and feel drained afterward. After a couple of years, I do them irregularly and for much shorter periods. I feel relaxed sometimes and at other times energized.

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the sensations! Thanks so much for sharing!


      • hi MaryAnn—thanks for your quick response. I took a quick snooze after walking around like that–really like a 10 minute nap, and I feel like brand new. I guess this about honoring what your body wants. I’m really amazed at this simple approach. Too soon to say anything yet, but I’m hoping it addresses the anxiety and other emotional blockage, that I couldn’t resolve with regular therapy.


  9. MaryAnn–I ordered the first book, which doesn’t have the 7th exercise. Can you explain it in more detail? I get the first part of it where you lift the pelvis. But I didn’t really understand the part that followed about lifting knees. Do you bring your soles together, knees bent open, and then raise knees in that position so that you’re closing your legs off the floor? Or do you lift your entire leg off floor including feet? Somehow I’m not picturing this clearly. Thanks.


    • Suzanne, I was in a class all weekend, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I seem to have lent out all of my Berceli videos and books! From what I recall, it is as you describe: soles together, lifting the legs and pelvis off the floor so that the outer edges of your feet and your shoulders/neck/head are supporting your body weight.

      What really matters is inducing the shaking. The exercises are just ways to get you there. I initially did all of them for a couple of weeks, and then I found shortcuts to initiate shaking. Just doing “chair pose” (back against the wall, knees bent) for a minute was enough to induce shaking. Now I don’t need to do the exercises at all to shake.

      I encourage you to experiment and play. Here’s to big releases!


  10. I just started doing TRE a few days ago and the shaking has been very powerful and I do have a lot of old traumas to release, but tonight kind of scared me, I’ve had a stressful day studying for a big test and I’ve felt tingling in my legs all day, but I just didn’t think of it that much, but then I went to sleep a couple of hours ago and woke up with my legs shaking and it really scared me..But then I thought I might aswell see if there is some shaking that needs to happen and I just let it happen and there was a lot wanting to get out. But now I wonder, is this normal, for it to just happen on it’s own like this? I wouldn’t know how to stop it if it just suddenly came on again, how do I stop it? I am scared I have done something wrong to make my body shake like this even without the exercises.. 😦


    • Agnes, it sounds to me like you have experienced involuntary shaking in your legs only when you’re relaxed and sleeping. I’m glad you were consciously able to let it continue. I believe your body knows what it’s doing — it picked a good time to shake, when you really needed to and could shake, and as you said, there was a lot wanting to get out. There’s more urgency when you first start doing the TRE exercises and shaking. I doubt if it will happen when you really don’t want it to, especially if you can manage to set aside some time (20 minutes) every day or two when you have no external demands to let your body shake.

      Your intention has a lot to do with it. If it starts happening when you don’t want it to, get up and walk.

      I hope this helps. I’m glad you shared.


  11. I started TRE about 1 week ago. My leg tremors are weak, but I do get a curling of my spine and neck to one side. Sometimes this goes into my abs on one side and sometimes 1 glute starts firing. I guess I just wonder why my legs don’t tremor like most people. I wonder if I need more strenuous exercise?? Or should I just continue the 7 and let my body do it’s thing. I love reading others experiences. One day I took a short bike ride and when I came home my body wanted to do the spine curling. So interesting! I also wonder if this changes fascia that is restricted. I wish someone would study TRE further. 🙂


    • Rachel, if I were you, I would continue with the seven exercises and let your body do its thing. What I noticed is that where the body needs to release tension changes over time. I also wish someone would study TRE further about what happens with the shaking and muscles, fascia, breath, circulation, movement, nervous system, hormones.

      As a massage therapist, I am pretty sure TRE work allows fascia to release, but it may not be deep enough to loosen strong adhesions, which would require some deep tissue work. But this is a fabulous start to freeing up the body mind!


  12. Hello, I’ve recently been using the TRE Technique since Sept 2014 to help with my high levels of anxiety and panic attacks. I have found them very useful to this point, lots of good tremors, and the more I do them, the more strong they become in my chest and shoulders. I must have so much held in trauma and anxiety, because as I’ve experienced there is a detox effect to this. Doesn’t last for too long, but i noticed strong spells of crying and feeling very out of sorts for a day or 2. that in turn is followed by happiness too, so don’t be put off by my comments. I now wait until i feel almost back to a calm state again before 1 continue with the next session of TRE, always with the help of my teacher Caroline Purvey, who ensures me this is all perfectly natural for the body to get rid of emotions it no longer needs.


    • It can take several sessions before your body learns to relax enough for the tremors to arise. I hope you rested. No idea why the loose bowel movement. Some people experience a detox effect, and that could be part of it. Wait until you feel stable before trying the exercises again. Good luck.


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