There are still some spaces on our Yoga Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Professional
Training course at the end of October. Read more to found out how specialised yoga therapy can
help PTSD.

Here at Minded, we are acutely focussed on educating practitioners in the safe use of
evidence-based techniques from yoga and mindfulness to complement the treatment of mental
health problems. One of our key interests is the use of yoga and yogic techniques to help with
symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Our founder and renowned yoga therapist, Heather Mason, specialises in the use of yoga with
trauma. Heather has developed a professional training course (Yoga Therapy for PTSD) designed to
teach practitioners how to use yoga to help those managing PTSD. The course offers an overview of
PTSD and the use of yoga as an intervention, covering cutting-edge research and practical
techniques for practitioners. The course is tailored for yoga teachers, psychologists, therapists and
medical staff.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by psychological and
physiological responses to distressing or stressful events; these include (but are not limited to)
violent personal assault, sexual abuse, neglect, military combat, terror attacks and natural disasters.
It is characterised by the re-experiencing of traumatic events; often as nightmares, flashbacks, or
intrusive memories and thought patterns.

An individual can re-experience this trauma at any time, and this can be ‘triggered’ by many
different (often seemingly unrelated) situations. PTSD affects around 1 in 3 people who experience
significant trauma; symptoms are often severe, persistent, and have a significant impact on the lives
of affected individuals.

PTSD is among the mental health problems that are hardest to communicate. The majority of those
affected encounter problems cycling between anxious hyperarousal (feeling on edge, and
hypervigilant) and emotional desensitisation (feeling numb, and avoidant). In many cases, this can
lead to dissociation; where individuals experience impaired functioning or altered consciousness as a
protective mechanism against psychological trauma.

To an observer, these symptoms can present as irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia, difficulty
concentrating, acute mood swings, isolation or avoidant behaviour. Symptoms of PTSD are often
associated with other mental health problems; such as anxiety, panic, depression, substance abuse
and disorganised cognitive processing of interpersonal interaction.

Major treatments for PTSD include psychological therapy and antidepressant medications, but there
is increasing interest in complementary therapies offering adjunctive help to ease symptoms.
Principal among these are mind-body practices, such as yoga.

Evidence is still emerging, but points toward several mechanisms via which yoga can reduce
symptoms of PTSD. Primarily, the breathing techniques and mindful movement utilised in yoga have
been shown to reduce amygdala hyperactivity (associated with emotional processing) and reduce
cortisol levels (associated with stress) by increasing activity of the parasympathetic nervous system
(associated with rest and digestion).[1]

Yoga also encourages mindful evaluation of the present; this is associated with improved emotion
regulation and positive self-appraisal, which can reduce interpersonal stress and improve self-
esteem in sufferers of PTSD.[2]

A key focus of yoga for trauma is the use of gentle and safe movement, with practices that integrate
controlled breathing and mindful activity. Crucially important in practice of yoga with sufferers of
trauma, is the awareness and sensitivity of physical poses or situations which may make the
individual feel vulnerable or exposed (this is an area explicitly covered by the course). With
awareness of post-traumatic symptoms, the practice of yoga can help individuals to achieve healing
and reclaiming of wellbeing by reconnecting with their body and by supporting individuals to process
their feelings in a safe and compassionate space.

The next Yoga Therapy for PTSD professional training course still has some spaces available, and is
running over 5 days from the 31st October – 4th November 2018 in London. Book your place now,
while spaces are still available!

by Tom Cardigan

[1] Streeter, C.C, Gerbarg, P.L, Saper, R.B., et al. (2012). Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous
system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress
disorder. Med Hypotheses, 78(5), 571-579.

[2] Cramer, H. (2016). The efficacy and safety of yoga in managing hypertension. Exp Clin Endocrinol
Diabetes, 124(2), 65-70.

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