The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many veterans who have returned from service overseas. PTSD is a very serious and often debilitating condition. Those seeking treatment for PTSD use different solutions, like music therapy or sports training, to help ease its symptoms, while others are finding relief through the practice of meditation and yoga. Many studies, including several published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, have now concluded that, in combination, yoga and meditation can significantly help those who suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Yoga and PTSD

Many veterans who return from stressful service arenas may have both physical and emotional damage that need to be addressed. Yoga helps soldiers to find and attain relaxation and comfort through the exercises practiced in a standard class. Yoga is an eastern practice that has the practitioner assume various positions designed to stretch and increase mobility and flexibility in the targeted muscles or joints. Yoga's gentle stretching routines help to relieve the tension in damaged or healing muscles, much like physical therapy. By relieving some of the main stressors on the nervous system, yoga offers many benefits to those who are suffering from PTSD. By focusing on various poses and control of the breath, mindfulness and yoga practice offer the soldier a very concrete tool that can be used to focus his or her attention on bringing the mind and body to a calm point. Most yoga classes can be taken through local community education centers or gyms in most cities. Some metropolitan areas offer yoga specifically for service personnel, so these programs are worth researching.

Meditation and PTSD

For those who suffer from PTSD, the disabling anxiety that often accompanies this disorder can ruin their quality of life. Those with PTSD are not in control of this experience, and left untreated, PTSD can lead to panic attacks. With military personnel, untreated PTSD most often leads to depression, substance abuse or suicide. Relaxation techniques that are utilized in meditation give the sufferer a coping mechanism that physically reduces stress.

Many recent studies prove that relaxation techniques can speed up the treatment in those who are engaged in ongoing psychotherapy. The Journal of Military Medicine published a study that discovered that those who practice transcendental meditation (TM) were able to reduce, or in many cases, eliminate the use of medications prescribed for anxiety and PTSD. Additionally, the study found that meditation physically lowers the stress hormones that are produced in a stressful situation. The study further indicated that almost 83 percent of those service personnel who voluntarily practiced TM stabilized their symptoms, whereas 40 percent of those who did not practice meditation had to begin taking larger doses of medications in order to remain stable. Most participants in this study only meditated for 20 minutes daily. Those who wish to practice TM for PTSD relief are advised to find a practitioner who is trained in TM, preferably someone who has worked with sufferers of PTSD.


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