Yoga’s physical postures promote healthy, flexible bodies and often provide relief from pain. The class is so gentle that veterans, many of whom have other health conditions or serious physical limitations, find the postures comfortable and easy to do.
Yoga directly addresses the fight-or-flight response, which is at the heart of PTS. The fight-or-flight response is a reaction that prepares the body to fight or flee from perceived threat. Because yoga deals directly with the mind-body connection, it helps veterans retrain the fight-or-flight response. Now, when they confront a situation that triggers their memories, instead of resorting to aggression or drowning in fear, they have other options: deep breathing, for example, as a means to self-calm. Other benefits include:
- The release of emotional issues.
- Help towards relaxing and strengthening the body.
- Unfreezing bad memories and creating new bodily memories.
- Giving feelings of joy and personal empowerment.
- The mind becomes more clear and open.
- It produces acceptance of the self.
- Life feels better balanced.
- It allows one to safely express stored emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, sadness and grief so those feelings can be understood and integrated.
- A regular yoga practice helps alleviate symptoms of PTS including anger, anxiety, depression, guilt and paranoia.
Yoga Warriors is designed specifically to assist soldiers in coping with Post Traumatic Stress as well as the daily and specific stresses that military members are exposed to. The classes are also open to those from other high stress environments in addition to the caregivers and family members of those affected.
About Therapeutic Yoga
Yoga is taught to active duty military, veterans, first responders and their families, and others who have experienced PTS or high stress. A Therapeutic Yoga class or private session may include: centering, breathing, readings from yoga masters, postures, meditation, restorative postures, and final relaxation. Carefully selected breathing exercises promote calming. Carefully chosen postures balance the nervous system. Positive affirmations paired with postures address the autonomic nervous system, increasing relaxation. Setting and word choice are carefully chosen to promote a sense of safety. Postures that can trigger bad memories are avoided.
Benefits of Yoga for PTSD, Stress, Anxiety and Depression
- Lowers state and trait anxiety
- Improves anger management skills
- Increases self-calming ability
- Helps participants recognize and safely release emotions without judgment
- Brings participants back to the present by reconnecting mind to body
Why It Works
Military, Veterans, First Responders and others who have experienced very intense periods of terror and trauma, may get stuck in a constant state of “flight or fight”. When they are away from the traumatic experience, that fight or flight response may not turn off, making the transition to “normal” life very difficult.
Therapeutically designed classes can help “unfreeze” bad memories or gently unlock rigidly held memories in ways that normal talk therapy might not. The feelings may be too complex for words or the person may find it difficult to talk about their feelings. The speech center of the brain often shuts down during trauma leaving the right brain to record the event in visual images or as other isolated sensory events – they may literally not have the words to speak of the trauma. Encouragement to “talk about it” can start a tailspin of flashbacks, nightmares, and overwhelming anxiety.
Yoga helps reduce hyper-arousal and evoke the relaxation response which is the body’s antidote to the stress response, because it causes the release of neurotransmitters in the body, creating a soothing effect.
Yoga classes allow participants to safely release and express stored emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, sadness and grief so they can better understand, make peace with, and manage those feelings. Through Yoga, the mind is allowed to safely associate the body with pleasant sensations, which is important for traumatized individuals who associate their bodies with unpleasant sensations due to traumatic experiences.