Project Summary: The client requested a blog post about yoga for trauma and PTSD with no other guidance. They are a university that has several certificates and degree programs in the healing arts and similar areas of interest.

Yoga and PTSD

Have you heard of the connection between yoga and PTSD? One of the primary purposes of yoga is to create strength, and another essential purpose of restorative yoga is to create more seamless mind/body awareness. Yoga has also been proven to increase flexibility. It is also a popular activity for boosting muscle tone and also improves cardio and circulatory health. Many agree regular yoga is essential to a strong mental well-being and often regard it as preventative medicine, but there is empirical evidence to suggest it can be utilized to help individuals cope with trauma and PTSD.

Stress is a common word, especially these days. When we refer to stress here, we are referring to a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from very demanding circumstances. Trauma is a step further, used to describe highly stressful events in our everyday language. Unlike regular stressors, trauma tends to overwhelm the coping mechanisms and persist for extended periods of time. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in any people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It has been known to affect military veterans, first responders, and other people who have been subject to trauma. Imagine helping those people release the tension and trauma they’ve experienced with yoga.

Stress and trauma can be held in quite a few places in our bodies. You have no doubt felt sore or achy after a stressful day at the office or after struggling to make a deadline. Imagine the pain and discomfort which comes from severe trauma or PTSD. There are many key places where we carry our stress in the form of tightness, tension, and discomfort. Trauma can physically manifest in similar, debilitating ways. The pelvis and hips, the diaphragm, the throat, the jaw or temporomandibular joint, the hamstrings, and the shoulders are all common places for tension to settle. Yoga is widely used to relieve tension, and the stress-based tension experienced by individuals with PTSD or who have experienced trauma behaves the same.

Extensive research suggests Yoga can be used to alleviate PTSD and trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency has found that Trauma-Sensitive Yoga is useful for helping individuals cope and deal with trauma and stress-related disorders. There are several differences between regular yoga and PTSD centric, trauma-sensitive yoga. Classes designed for trauma survivors feature instructors who ask if students would like to be touched before assisting or adjusting students into positions. The goal of these classes above all is to make students feel safe. Poses in these classes should be accessible, positions everyone can do and feel comfortable doing. There are entire class structures and activities best suited for individuals who have experienced trauma or who suffer from PTSD.

Yoga for PTSD is a course tailored to people who suffer from trauma and PTSD, and is designed to help our students make a difference. It is one of several electives offered in our yoga teaching curriculum. Yoga for PTSD is designed to help define and recognize the difference in behavior of those experiencing post-event stress and respond accordingly. Instructors will also learn the basics of Critical Incident Stress Management as well as the symptoms and effects of Acute Stress Disorder versus Chronic Stress Disorder in the context of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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