Yoga For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Did you know that in July 2016 the Australian Bureau of Statistics put out a media release declaring that reports of sexual assault had reached a six year high? There was an increase of 3% in 2015.

In 2013 the Australia Bureau of Statistics reported that one in five Australian women and one in twenty Australian men have experienced violence at the hands of a partner.

Why am I bothering to go into these statistics? 

While I knew that violence and sexual abuse was present in our society, if I'm completely honest I had no idea just how prevalent and common it was, after having a string of amazingly beautiful and inspiring students come into Yoga In Motion seeking help for coping with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I thought I should educate myself as best I could.

I was shocked and saddened by the information I came across during my research and felt compelled to share it with you.

As many as 57% of women will experience PTSD at some point after their assault with as many as 50% of those struggling with it life long.

There are many therapeutic approaches that attempt to manage the symptoms of PTSD including pharmaceuticals and psychiatric therapy, with more and more research also being conducted to discover better support for victims. Early diagnosis and support networks being key to better outcomes for patients.

In 2014 a randomised control trial was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry looking at yoga as an adjunct therapy for PTSD and although only 64 women were involved in the study the outcomes were positive.

The women took part in 1 hour of yoga weekly for 10 weeks.

The researchers found that yoga significantly reduced the symptoms of PTSD. With the effects being comparable with common psychotherapeutic treatments for the condition. 

It was concluded in the study that yoga may actually help to improve the functioning of traumatised women by helping them to better tolerate physical and sensory experiences associated with fear and helplessness and to increase emotional awareness.

We know that long term stress and trauma affects our brain chemistry and function. Providing individuals with a host of different coping strategies that they can turn to is important, it's never a matter of a one size fits all approach.  

As a yoga teacher it's important to understand the importance of keeping the lines of communication between yourself and your students open and non-judgemental. Working one to one where possible to increase your understanding of the individual needs of each student.

Being sensitive to the idea that building your report might be essential before asking your students to place their body in certain positions like lying on the back or even closing their eyes during their yoga practice these just may not be particularly helpful early on.

We have so many beautiful tools to help including the breathing techniques, visualisations and sound to help find space and moments of peace. As always it's key to stay open to communicating with other health professionals who are also working to support your students.

If you have any questions on the topic or any information you wish to share personally I'd love to hear from you as always hopefully we can keep learning together, thanks for reading Krystle x


J Clin Psychiatry. 2014 June
Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial.
van der Kolk BA1, Stone L, West J, Rhodes A, Emerson D, Suvak M, Spinazzola J