Women can alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through yoga. A small study from the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare Systems found that yoga classes can be an effective part of PTSD treatment. Approximately one in 10 women in the United States are affected by PTSD; therapies like yoga can serve as an alternative or complement to traditional treatment.
Twenty-six women with an average age of 44 participated in the study. Both civilians and military veterans were represented. Fourteen of the women attended 75-minute yoga sessions, some attending weekly sessions for 12 weeks and the rest attending twice-weekly sessions for six weeks. The yoga classes emphasized mind-body connections, breathing, and physical postures. The women filled out a questionnaire each week, rating the severity of their symptoms.
The remaining 12 women, the comparison group, met weekly in small groups to complete the same questionnaires. Both groups participated in a follow-up assessment one month after the sessions ended.
Women in both groups reported significant benefits: the yoga group saw a decrease in hyperarousal and the comparison group had a decrease in anxiety. Both groups reported an improvement in their flashback symptoms.
Although both groups improved, the researchers emphasized that the yoga participants did not do worse than the comparison group. “Both groups were doing assessments, coming in every week, and interacting with us—doing these kinds of things that might have been helpful for both groups, explained study leader Karen Mitchell.
For people with PTSD using yoga in a treatment plan, the researchers note that there are many varieties and speeds of yoga. Some people may be more comfortable in a fast-paced yoga class, for example, because the speed keeps their mind from wandering.
This research is published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.
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