Research: Healing Trauma & PTSD

Statistically significant decrease in PTSD (2013)

  • A randomized, controlled clinical trial—the most definitive form of scientific evidence—was spearheaded by The Trauma Center.
  • The study randomly assigned 64 women, 18-58 years old with chronic, treatment un-responsive PTSD to 10 weeks of Trauma-Informed Yoga classes or a Control Group of health education classes.
  • The Yoga Group exhibited statistically significant decreases in PTSD symptoms compared to the Control Group. In the Yoga Group, 52% no longer met criteria for PTSD compared to 21% in the Control Group.

The supportive nature of the control group, which encouraged the sharing of food and maintenance of contact outside of formal sessions, may have significantly improved the mood of this group, but it did not produce a sustained reduction in PTSD symptoms. This suggests that the physical and interoceptive aspects of yoga, rather than the social dimensions of the groups, were the critical variable responsible for the change in PTSD symptomatology.

Improvements in women with PTSD symptoms (2014)

  • “Yoga improved the lives of women with PTSD,” says a study in The Journal of Traumatic Stress.
  • A variety of studies on participants with conditions including chronic depression, eating disorders and PTSD pointed to improved quality of life and reduction of symptoms after practicing yoga in combination with other therapies.
  • Patients practiced Kripalu-based yoga for 12 sessions over six or twelve weeks.

Breathing & meditation decreased PTSD in veterans

  • Research by Stanford scholar Emma Seppala at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education found that post-traumatic stress disorder decreased in veterans who participated in a week-long breathing, yoga and meditation workshop, and remained lower a year later.

iRest Yoga Nidra successful with veterans

  • “The Walter Read program was a huge success. It inspired similar research studies in Miami Brooke Army Medical Center as well as many other Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense sites. To date, there are iRest Yoga Nidra programs in 35 V.A. Centers and six D.o.D. sites. Both active duty military personnel and veterans have access to the services.”

Decreased PTSD in women who experienced sexual trauma (2014)

  • In a pilot study conducted at Veteran’s Medical Center with women who had experienced sexual trauma, participants reported significant decreases in symptoms of PTSD, negative thoughts of self-blame, and depression.
  • Participants also reported decreased body tension, improved quality of sleep, improved ability to handle intrusive thoughts, improved ability to manage stress, and an increased feeling of joy.

Breathing practice improved PTSD symptoms in vets (2014)

  • The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at the University of Wisconsin (UW) conducted a randomized control study of 21 soldiers to measure the effectiveness of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga to reduce hyper-arousal associated with PTSD.
  • Sudarshan Kriya Yoga is a practice of controlled breathing that has proven to be effective in helping tsunami survivors with PTSD, prompting researchers to test it on vets.
  • The veterans were randomly assigned to an active or control group.  Laboratory measures of eye‐blink startle and respiration rate were obtained before and after the intervention, as were self‐report symptom measures. The self-reported symptoms were also obtained 1 month and 1 year later.
  • The breathing group showed reductions in PTSD, anxiety symptoms, and respiration rate, but the control group did not.
  • CBS News article here
  • Badger Herald article here
  • The Good Men Project article here
  • Science Daily article here

Yoga helps females with PTSD

  • “I have been teaching Mindful Yoga Therapy in VA and CT, both in residential programs and in outpatient programs, for six years now… The results have been unbelievably positive. So much so that I began to train other yoga teachers to use this protocol nationwide.”

For more study results, please see Research on the Impact of Yoga.