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Why Yoga is a Helpful Tool for PTSD

By: Jenn Moss

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that affects people who have difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Most common, PTSD affects those who serve or have served in the military, where trauma is more prevalent. However, it is not limited to just those who go to service, as many can experience trauma in a variety of ways. Some symptoms may include night terrors, increased stress, anxiety, heightened reactions, avoidance of places, tastes, or smells, etc.

These symptoms can be a scary thing to experience, especially when taken back as if you are experiencing the trauma all over again for the first time. Thankfully there are many ways in which people who live with PTSD can seek help, such as trauma-focused therapy, and medication to help alleviate symptoms. These are both great tools. However, other options are available in combination. There have been studies that have shown that yoga and meditationmay be a helpful and holistic approach to healing.

Here are some reasons:

1. Attention on the Breath

One of the main symptoms of PTSD is anxiety. When we experience anxious thoughts, or even worse, full anxiety attacks, our breathing is usually the first thing to go. Feeling like you can’t take in any air is a common side effect. With yoga and meditation, the focus on the breath and controlling breathing patterns are crucial.

2. The Mind-Body Connection

Breath control is sustained through the entirety of the class, creating a rhythmic, wave-like sound that is soothing to the mind and body. So much of yoga is connecting these two entities. Your breath is directly linked to your thoughts, so when you can control these, your mind is more at ease, and your body can correlate.

3. A Physical Outlet/Release of Emotions

Yoga is a fantastic way to get your stress out. Typically done in a flow, certain yoga classes can be a great exercise while utilizing strength and flexibility. By working hard in class, and perhaps working through looming stress internally, it provides you a space to process and heal without having to talk or find words. 

Additionally, similar to Dance Therapy, there is something called Yoga Therapy, which could also be a more specialized option. For this, you would meet one on one with a trained Yoga Therapist to provide a plan of action, and use yoga as the modality. Although some people may feel that holistic approaches such as these are the way, you may couple these with other therapies and perhaps medication. However, yoga is a powerful tool. Yoga is more than leggings, and downward dogs — it has the potential to bring you towards healing and finding moments of ease throughout your day, something we all strive for.