Harvard, Brigham Study: Yoga Eases Veterans PTSD Symptoms

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The words “Department of Defense” and “yoga” aren’t often uttered in the same breath, let alone in a long, conscious, exhale.

But preliminary results from a small study funded by the U.S. Defense Department, and led by a Harvard Medical School assistant professor, found that veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder showed improvement in their symptoms after ten weeks of yoga classes, including meditation and breathing, done twice a week, and fifteen minutes of daily practice at home.

“PTSD is a disorder involving dysregulation of the stress response system, and one of the most powerful effects of yoga is to work on cognitive and physiological stress,” says Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and the principal investigator of the yoga study. “What we believe is happening, is that through the control of attention on a target — the breath, the postures, the body — that kind of awareness generates changes in the brain, in the limbic system, and these changes in thinking focus more in the moment, less in the past, and it quiets down the anxiety-provoking chatter going on in the head. People become less reactive and the hormone-related stress cycle starts to calm down.”

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Another related story:

Why the Military Uses Yoga to Treat PTSD

“The take-orders mindset of the armed forces and the go-your-own-way flow of yoga seem totally opposed, but researchers believe that yoga can be an effective alternative therapy for PTSD among veterans returning home with physical and mental trauma. Studies show that yoga can “unfreeze” the nervous system, alleviating PTSD symptoms. Unlike prescription medications, yoga does not cause undesirable side effects like addiction, lethargy, or weight gain.” Full article at link:


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