Nearly one in five soldiers returns home from active service in Afghanistan or Iraq suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or both. A recently published study shows that yoga can help active-duty service members manage combat stress and that it may prevent the onset of PTSD.
Researchers from the Air Force and a Boston-based nonprofit called Yoga Warriors taught yoga to deployed Army and Air Force personnel in Kirkuk, Iraq. Participating service members experienced reduced anxiety and better sleep. "Through the practice, they become their own most powerful agents for anxiety control," says Air Force Major Jon Greuel, the lead investigator of the study.
"I got on my mat that first day, and something happened," says Susan J. Lynch, Gulf War Vet (from the VetsYoga DVD), "I felt a sense of peace that I had not felt since before deploying. I could be in charge of this PTSD that was in charge of me for so many years."
Yoga resources give service members and veterans tools to adapt peacefully to civilian life. Here are a few to get started:
VetsYoga: Introductory Series for Veterans and Military Personnel
For more information, visit vetsyoga.com.
For more information and to donate, visit bootstrapusa.com.
Yoga for Vets
Veterans can find a participating location at yogaforvets.org.