How Recovery Yoga Programs Reduce Stress, including PTSD
Yoga is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, elevate mood, and increase physical fitness and agility. “Although yoga is historically a spiritual discipline, it has also been used clinically as a therapeutic intervention…a general feature of these [yoga and meditation] practices is their capability of inducing a coordinated psychophysiological response, which is the antithesis of the stress response…[a] ‘relaxation response’.” Khalsa, Sat Bir S., Ph.D, Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Yoga as a Therapeutic Intervention: A Bibliometric Analysis of Published Research Studies, 2004. Accordingly, yoga has been shown to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, and psychopathological health. Id. See also Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body, 2011, by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, PhD, with an Introduction by Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD (a leading expert on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
According to a study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science, a group of female patients who completed eight hatha yoga classes showed significantly more improvement in reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms than a similar group that participated only in group therapy. Furthermore, research shows that the human body has biomedical responses to yoga that contribute to feelings of strength and calmness. Yoga causes a decrease in catechoamines—the hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress—and a lowering of the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, creating a feeling of calmness. Aetna Insurance Company, in collaboration with Duke Integrative Medicine and American Viniyoga Institute, has delivered an evidence-based mind-body stress reduction study based on a 12 week yoga and mindfulness program that resulted in positive health outcomes.
Therefore, Recovery Yoga programs increase yoga practitioners’ feelings of self-worth, harmony and empowerment, as well as health and well-being, thus allowing and empowering them to become calm, centered and grounded, so they can move forward with hope, strength and a positive outlook.