Is Yoga for PTSD Effective? - Yoga Practice Blog

Is Yoga for PTSD Effective?

yoga certificationBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Could Yoga for PTSD really work? There are as many skeptics as there are enthusiasts when it comes to practical treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. Yoga has long been practiced for its calming and anxiety-relieving effects.  The way that Yoga intersects the physical and emotional needs of the mind and body has made it an increasingly popular practice around the world.


Yoga for PTSD Under Scrutiny

Recently, Yoga has been the subject of various studies that focus on its abilities to help patients struggling with chronic illnesses like cancer or those who deal with anxiety or other major depressive disorders. The research results have proved favorable, while Yoga alone cannot treat all of the symptoms these diseases manifest, it has been proven effective for improving the quality of life in those with terminal illnesses as well as improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression in those who are struggling with psychiatric disorders.



As more information about Yoga’s healthy effect on symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) has been established by science, studies have confirmed that practicing Yoga as a complementary treatment for PTSD is effective in improving a patient’s symptoms of anxiety and stress.


Yoga and Psychiatric Disorders

According to a 2011 meta-analysis of the research on Yoga and psychiatric disorders entitled “Effectiveness of Yoga Therapy as a Complementary Treatment for Major Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-Analysis,” Yoga is both a cost-effective and an extremely useful co-treatment for major psychiatric disorders like PTSD.

Traditional treatment of these disorders typically includes pharmaceuticals combined with individual or group therapy. When these treatments do not work or have side effects that lower the quality of life, Yoga is an effective way to fill the treatment gap or to speed up the healing process.


Yoga’s Effectiveness

Yoga’s ability to ground the practitioner with a greater awareness of his or her body can help heal the imprint of a traumatic experience on the physical body. Those with PTSD often suffer from flashbacks and other physical manifestations of the traumatic event that make it difficult to stay connected to reality.

A consistent Yoga practice has been found to help practitioners become aware of the present and practice deep breathing techniques that can slow the physical symptoms and trigger a relaxation response in the body.


Releasing Anger and Tension

Yoga is also an effective tool for combating anger and guilt that contribute to PTSD. Practitioners of Hatha Yoga, for example, can focus on holding the Yoga poses and releasing the tension their bodies hold. Yoga practitioners who study deep breathing techniques can focus on calming and meditative practices that enable them to get in touch with their bodies in previously unavailable ways.


It is clear from the research that both returning soldiers and those who suffer from traumatic life experiences like violence and abuse can practice Yoga as an effective treatment in conjunction with other methods that help a person navigate the pain and trauma of PTSD.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division


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Yoga for PTSD Today

By Bhavan Kumar, Sangeetha Saran, and Faye Martins

Welcome to this guide on harnessing the power of yoga to heal and find solace from the gripping effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you or someone you know has experienced trauma, this article offers insights, guidance, and a path towards empowerment.

Living with PTSD can feel like an endless battle against haunting memories and overwhelming emotions. It affects your mental well-being, physical health, relationships, and overall quality of life. But fear not! Yoga has emerged as a transformative practice that can aid in soothing the mind, nurturing the body, and reclaiming control over one’s healing journey.

In this article, we’ll delve into the depths of understanding PTSD symptoms and how yoga can bring about positive change. We’ll explore different types of yoga practices that are specifically beneficial for individuals coping with PTSD. Moreover, we’ll provide practical tips on getting started with yoga, even if you’re a beginner.

But wait – there’s more! Combining therapy with yoga can unlock extraordinary results in terms of healing from traumatic experiences. Throughout this article, we will share real-life stories that showcase firsthand accounts of individuals who have found strength through their journeys with yoga for PTSD.

Are you ready to take charge? Prepare to embark on an empowering journey towards recovery using ancient wisdom and peaceful serenity within each breath during a fulfilling yoga practice.


Understanding PTSD and its Symptoms

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stems from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event that overwhelms the mind’s ability to cope. While commonly associated with military veterans, anyone who has experienced trauma can be affected by this condition.

The symptoms of PTSD can manifest in various ways, often disrupting daily life and causing distress. Intrusive thoughts and flashbacks bring back vivid memories of the traumatic event, leaving individuals feeling as if they are reliving it all over again. Nightmares may haunt their sleep, making restful nights a rarity.

Avoidance behaviors also emerge as coping mechanisms. Those with PTSD may steer clear of people, places, or activities that remind them of the trauma to avoid triggering distressing emotions. This avoidance can lead to social isolation and further exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

Hyperarousal is another hallmark symptom where individuals constantly feel on edge and hypervigilant for potential threats. They may experience irritability, difficulty concentrating, exaggerated startle responses, and even physical manifestations like racing heartbeats or sweating.

It’s crucial to remember that everyone experiences PTSD differently – there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to understanding this complex condition. By recognizing these symptoms within ourselves or our loved ones who might be struggling with PTSD, we take an essential step towards empathy and support on their healing journey.

The Benefits of Yoga for PTSD

Of course, the benefits of yoga for PTSD are numerous and can have a profound impact on healing and recovery. One of the key benefits is its ability to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia that are commonly associated with this condition.

Yoga helps individuals with PTSD to reconnect with their bodies and feel grounded in the present moment. The practice incorporates deep breathing exercises, gentle movements, and mindfulness techniques that promote relaxation and reduce stress.

By focusing on the breath while moving through different poses, yoga encourages individuals to cultivate self-awareness and develop a sense of control over their body’s reactions. This can be particularly helpful for those suffering from hyperarousal or hypervigilance symptoms often experienced in PTSD.

Additionally, practicing yoga provides an opportunity for individuals with PTSD to release tension stored in their muscles and tissues. Through stretching postures, they can gradually let go of physical tightness caused by chronic stress or trauma.

Furthermore, regular yoga sessions promote better sleep patterns by calming the nervous system. Sleep disturbances are common among people with PTSD, so improving sleep quality has significant benefits for overall well-being.

Incorporating yoga into a treatment plan for PTSD offers immense advantages. It empowers individuals to take an active role in their healing journey while providing physical relief from symptoms and fostering emotional balance.


Types of Yoga that are Beneficial for PTSD

When it comes to finding the correct type of yoga for managing PTSD, there are several options to consider. Each style offers unique benefits and approaches to healing, so you can find one that resonates with your needs and preferences.

1. Hatha Yoga: This gentle and slow-paced practice is perfect for beginners or those who prefer a more relaxed approach. Hatha yoga focuses on breathing techniques (pranayama) and basic postures (asanas) to help calm the mind and release tension from the body.

2. Restorative Yoga: As the name suggests, restorative yoga aims to restore balance and promote deep relaxation. It involves holding supportive poses with props for extended periods, allowing the body to unwind fully. This gentle practice can be especially beneficial for individuals experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

3. Yin Yoga: With a focus on long-held, passive stretches, yin yoga targets connective tissues in the body while nurturing mindfulness and inner reflection. This meditative practice encourages acceptance of discomfort by teaching us how to sit with our emotions without judgment – a valuable skill when dealing with PTSD symptoms.

4. Trauma-Informed Yoga: Specifically designed for trauma survivors, trauma-informed yoga prioritizes creating a safe environment where individuals feel empowered and in control of their bodies during their practice. Teachers trained in this specialized approach understand how certain poses or cues may trigger trauma responses and provide modifications accordingly.

Remember that these are just a few examples; many other styles of yoga might resonate more with you personally! Experimenting with different types can help you discover what works best for your healing journey.

How to Get Started with Yoga for PTSD

Starting a yoga practice to help manage symptoms of PTSD can be a transformative and empowering journey. But getting started might feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to yoga or have limited mobility due to your condition. Here are some tips to help you begin your yoga practice for PTSD in a safe and manageable way.

1. Find the right teacher or class: Look for instructors who have experience working with individuals with trauma or PTSD. They will understand how to create a supportive and non-triggering environment.

2. Start slow: Begin with gentle, beginner-friendly classes focusing on relaxation and breathing techniques, such as Hatha or Restorative Yoga. These classes provide an excellent foundation for strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.

3. Listen to your body: It’s essential to honor your body’s limitations while practicing yoga for PTSD. If certain poses or movements feel uncomfortable or triggering, modify or skip them altogether. Remember that everyone’s journey is unique, so don’t compare yourself to others in the class.

4. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and patient with yourself throughout this healing process through yoga. It takes time to build strength, flexibility, and physical and mental resilience.

5. Explore different styles: As you become more comfortable with basic poses and breathwork, consider exploring other styles of yoga, like Vinyasa Flow or Kundalini Yoga, which can offer additional benefits such as increased energy levels and emotional release.

Remember that starting a regular yoga practice is not about perfection; it’s about connecting mindfully with your body as part of your healing journey from PTSD.


Combining Therapy with Yoga for Maximum Results

When it comes to healing from PTSD, combining therapy with yoga can be a powerful approach. While therapy provides essential support and guidance, yoga offers a holistic practice that addresses the mind and body. By integrating these two modalities, individuals can experience maximum results in their journey toward recovery.

Therapy sessions provide a safe space for individuals to explore and process traumatic experiences. A skilled therapist helps individuals understand their triggers, manage symptoms, and develop coping strategies. These therapeutic interventions are crucial for healing emotional wounds associated with PTSD.

On the other hand, practicing yoga complements therapy by promoting physical and mental well-being. Through various postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation techniques (dhyana), yoga cultivates mindfulness, reduces stress levels, enhances self-awareness, and improves overall resilience.

By incorporating yoga into their treatment plan under the guidance of trained professionals who specialize in trauma-informed practices, individuals with PTSD can create harmony between their minds and bodies. This integration allows them to tap into the innate healing abilities within themselves.

Therapists may recommend specific yogic practices tailored to each individual’s needs during therapy sessions. Gentle Hatha or Restorative Yoga is often recommended as it focuses on relaxation and deep stretching poses that promote calmness while gently releasing stored tension.

Furthermore, yoga classes specifically designed for trauma survivors offer an empathetic environment where participants feel understood without judgment or pressure to perform at a certain level physically or emotionally. Such supportive spaces allow individuals to build trust within themselves as they reconnect with sensations in their bodies that were disconnected due to trauma.

In this blended approach of therapy combined with yoga practice, individuals have reported significant improvements in managing anxiety symptoms, such as decreased hypervigilance, better regulation of emotions, improved quality sleep patterns, enhanced self-esteem, and increased feelings of empowerment.

The key is finding qualified professionals who understand the unique needs of PTSD survivors and can integrate yoga effectively into therapy.

Personal Stories: Real-life Examples of the Positive Effects of Yoga on PTSD

Yoga has been praised as a powerful tool for healing and managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But don’t just take my word for it! Let’s dive into some real-life stories from individuals who have experienced firsthand the transformative effects that yoga can have on their journey to recovery.

Take Jessica, for example. She had been struggling with PTSD after surviving a traumatic event. Traditional therapy sessions were helpful, but she wanted something more holistic and grounding. That’s when she decided to give yoga a try. Through regular practice, Jessica found solace in the gentle movements and intentional breathing exercises. The mindfulness aspect of yoga allowed her to connect with her body and release stored tension, ultimately helping her find inner peace amidst her trauma.

Then there’s Mark, a military veteran who battled with nightmares and anxiety stemming from his time in combat zones. He turned to yoga as an alternative approach to managing his symptoms without relying solely on medication. Mark noticed significant improvements in his sleep patterns and overall emotional well-being with consistent practice. The physical postures helped him reconnect with his body, while the meditation techniques provided tools for calming his racing mind.

And let’s not forget about Lisa, who survived domestic violence and was grappling with feelings of fear and powerlessness long after escaping her abusive relationship. Yoga became a lifeline for Lisa during this challenging period in her life – empowering her both mentally and physically. The embodiment practices within yoga classes gave Lisa newfound strength and confidence by re-establishing boundaries within herself.

These personal stories are just glimpses into the countless experiences shared by individuals who have integrated yoga into their healing journeys with PTSD. Each story is unique yet resonates deeply within the broader context of using yoga alongside traditional treatment methods as an adjunct therapy option.

By sharing these narratives, we hope to inspire others seeking alternative approaches or ways to complement their existing treatment plans.


Empowering Yourself on the Road to Healing

Healing from PTSD can be a long and challenging journey, but it is also an opportunity for personal growth and empowerment. Yoga can play a crucial role in this process by allowing you to take control of your healing.

You can reconnect with your body through yoga and develop more self-awareness. This heightened awareness allows you to recognize triggers and patterns associated with your PTSD symptoms. Observing these patterns without judgment gives you the power to respond differently and break free from their hold.

Yoga also provides tools for managing stress and anxiety, which are common symptoms of PTSD. The deep breathing techniques used in yoga help calm the nervous system, reducing feelings of panic or hypervigilance.

As you continue practicing yoga, you may find that certain poses resonate more strongly with your healing journey. For example, grounding poses like Mountain Pose or Tree Pose can help cultivate stability and strength when you feel overwhelmed or unsteady.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s healing path is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. Listening to your body and honoring its needs throughout your yoga practice is essential.

In addition to regular yoga sessions, consider seeking support from a mental health professional specializing in trauma therapy. Combining traditional therapy with yoga can provide a comprehensive approach to healing PTSD.

Remember that progress takes time – be patient with yourself as you navigate through challenges along the way. Each step forward is an achievement worth celebrating!

By embracing the empowering nature of yoga on your road to recovery from PTSD, you are taking ownership of your well-being. You have within you the strength necessary for transformation – trust in yourself and believe in the possibility of healing.

Yoga for PTSD Research:

Extensive research has been conducted on the benefits of yoga for individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These studies have shed light on the positive effects of regular yoga practice on managing and reducing symptoms associated with this debilitating condition.

One study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that a 12-week yoga intervention significantly reduced PTSD symptom severity in veterans. Another study, published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, demonstrated that trauma-sensitive yoga can lead to improvements in distress tolerance and emotion regulation among survivors of sexual trauma.

Researchers believe that practicing yoga helps regulate the autonomic nervous system, which is often dysregulated in individuals with PTSD. Yoga also promotes mindfulness and present-moment awareness, allowing practitioners to develop a greater sense of control over their thoughts and emotions.

Additionally, research has shown that engaging in physical activity such as yoga releases endorphins – natural feel-good chemicals – which can help alleviate depressive symptoms commonly experienced by those with PTSD.

While more research is needed to fully understand how exactly yoga affects individuals with PTSD at a neurological level, these findings suggest promising results for incorporating yoga into treatment plans for those struggling with this disorder.

The growing body of research supports the use of yoga as an effective complementary therapy for managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. From reducing symptom severity to improving emotional regulation and overall well-being, it’s clear that integrating regular practice into treatment plans can provide significant benefits. With continued investigation into its mechanisms of action and further exploration through clinical trials, we hope to unlock even more insights into how best to utilize this ancient practice as part of comprehensive healing strategies for those living with PTSD.



In this ultimate guide to yoga for PTSD, we have explored the profound benefits that practicing yoga can have on individuals who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. From understanding the symptoms of PTSD to learning about the different types of yoga that can provide relief, we hope this guide has been informative and helpful.

Yoga offers a holistic approach to healing by addressing both the physical and mental aspects of trauma. By combining therapeutic techniques with specific yoga practices, individuals can experience a sense of empowerment and take control of their own healing journey.

Through personal stories shared by those who have found solace in yoga, we have seen firsthand how this ancient practice has transformed lives and aided in overcoming traumatic experiences. Their journeys serve as inspiration for others seeking healing through yoga.

Research studies continue to shed light on the positive effects of yoga for PTSD. The growing body of evidence supports what many practitioners already know – that regular participation in mindful movement and breathwork can bring about true transformation and lasting relief from symptoms associated with PTSD.


If you or someone you know is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, consider incorporating yoga into your treatment plan. Seek guidance from certified instructors or therapists who specialize in trauma-sensitive practices. Listen to your body’s needs and pace yourself throughout your practice.

Empower yourself on the road to healing by embracing the power of mindfulness, self-care, and self-compassion through practicing yoga for PTSD. With dedication and patience, it is possible to find peace amidst turmoil and reclaim a sense of well being.

Remember, everyone’s journey toward healing is unique. What works for one person may not work for another – so be open-minded as you explore various approaches until you find what resonates best with you.

With time, commitment, and support from professionals experienced in treating trauma-related conditions like PTSD – along with consistent engagement in a well-rounded treatment plan – recovery becomes attainable even after experiencing significant adversity.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

3 thoughts on “Is Yoga for PTSD Effective?”

  1. Practicing Yoga as a complementary treatment for PTSD is effective in improving a patient’s symptoms of anxiety and stress. Thanks for sharing this informative article.

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