Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. Etty Hillesum.
The practice of Yoga has been around for literally thousands of years. Poses are designed to increase strength and flexibility. Focused breathing through the poses brings relaxation, and increases the flow of life-force energy (chi) through the body. Yoga unites mind, body and spirit.
When I first began the practice of yoga, I attended local beginner classes and the exposure I received in the classes showed me exactly how the practice of yoga can indeed relieve stress. I walked out of the first class feeling internally energized, yet my whole body was tension-free. Areas where I held stress (neck and shoulders) were completely relaxed. My mind was quiet and I felt at peace.
Yoga has been extensively researched as a viable form of therapy for individuals who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense has funded studies on the effectiveness of yoga in relieving PTSD symptoms. The preliminary results of one study conducted by a Harvard professor revealed that veterans with PTSD ” . . . showed improvement in their symptoms after ten weeks of yoga classes, including meditation and breathing, done twice a week, and fifteen minutes of daily practice at home.” (1)
Often Veterans return home from wartime with physical injuries or disabilities which prevent them from participating in exercise programs. There are options available for individuals with disabilities through Physical Therapy programs. Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program, and for recommendations of physical therapy.
Never give up!
Links of Interest:
- Yoga As Medicine: The Science and Practice of Therapeutic Yoga (PDF file by WarriorsAtEase.com)
- Research on Yoga and PTSD (comprehensive list of articles by WarriorsAtEase.com)
(1) Zimmerman, Rachel. “Harvard, Brigham Study: Yoga Eases Veterans PTSD Symptoms.” WBUR’s Common Health Reform and Reality. Trustees of Boston University, 10 Dec 2010. Web. 14 June 2014.