Although the use of alternative methods of treatment is a relatively new idea for many organizations below I have compiled a list of the emerging research articles and other publications discussing the proposed effectiveness of utilizing yoga as an intervention for PTSD.

The study below was done at the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute.  The randomized controlled study of 64 women demonstrated:

  • statistically significant decreases in PTSD symptoms compared to the Control Group at post-study assessment
  • 52% of the yoga group no longer met criteria for PTSD whereas 21% of the control group still did post-study

Trauma Center Yoga for PTSD Research Info

Abstract of Journal Article

 

The article below is a question and answer session withDr. Bessel van der Kolk and Integral Yoga Magazine.  Dr. van der Kolk is considered one of the world’s most prominent experts in the field of treating trauma.  This article is very easy to read and provides answers to common questions from the general public including:

  • How does extreme stress affect brain function?
  • How did you get interested in Yoga for the treatment of PTSD?
  • Is meditation okay for those with PTSD?

Interview Article with Dr. van der Kolk

 

This recently published article in the Washington Post details how the military, in specific the Veterans Administration, has launched four alternative-therapy pilot programs aimed at handling PTSD through the use of yoga and other forms of alternative therapy.  Key facts include:

  • “While doctors say the highly addictive drugs can help in the short term, they also can be harmful and often require another round of prescription pills to counteract side effects that can include insomnia, constipation, bone pain, anxiety and depression.”
  • “Of the 2.3 million American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 20 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which often includes anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance, which means they feel always on guard…  Yoga practices are designed to help calm the nervous system…”

Washington Post Article

In The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. van der Kolk shares his insight on why he believes yoga can be a useful technique for healing from trauma.  The chapter entitled “Learning to Inhabit Your Body: Yoga” shares key highlights from a neurobiological perspective including:

  • Yoga is an accessible way for people to start to experiment with tolerating physical sensations in the body.  The effects of trauma often times result in the overactive alarm system of survivors keeping them caught in the past instead of allowing them to be fully in the present.  Therefore, survivors are often times plagued with feelings of over activation (fight/flight) or under activation (freeze/collapse) and these sensations need to learn to be tolerated gently in order to allow the survivor to learn how to become more fully alive in the present.
  • “One of the clearest lessons from contemporary neuroscience is that our sense of ourselves is anchored in vital connection with our bodies.  We do not truly know ourselves unless we can feel and interpret our physical sensations…”

The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. van der Kolk

 

As a survivor, or a loved one of a survivor, what has been your experience in utilizing yoga or any other alternative therapy form as a tool for recovery?