Research: Yoga & PTSD

Yoga practices: yoga poses (asana), breathing exercises (pranayamaand mindfulness meditation (MBSR) have shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comparable to other therapeutic and pharmacologic approaches as well as being effective in combination. Research indicates yoga helps to:  

IMPROVE: mood *  tolerance of physical & sensory experiences * self-efficacy & self-esteem 

INCREASE: emotional awareness * psychological flexibility * GABA levels * heart-rate variability (HRV)

REDUCE: frequency of intrusive thoughts * severity of hyperarousal symptoms



Results from a small 10-week study comparing the benefits of trauma-sensitive yoga classes as an adjunct treatment for PTSD with a women’s education and support group found the yoga group not only had reduced symptoms during treatment but also maintained the improvement at the 2 month follow-up; 52% of the yoga group (21% control) no longer met the criteria for PTSD. (van der Kolk 2014)




Veterans with PTSD who participated 9 weekly MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) sessions experienced significant improvements in self-reported symptoms compared to control (48.9% vs 28.1%) with improvement maintained at the 2 month follow-up appointment post-intervention. (Polusny 2015)





The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma ~ Bessel van der Kolk MD
Yoga for Depression ~Amy Weintraub
Yoga Skills for Therapists ~Amy Weintraub
Mindful Way Through Depression ~Mark Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body ~David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, PhD