A group study conducted in 2009 under the auspices of Major Jon Greuel involved 70 military personnel stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. Using randomized experimental and control groups, the study looked at the impact of hatha yoga on the symptoms of combat stress in deployed members of the military. The study concluded that hatha yoga significantly reduced anxiety when compared to the control group. The yoga practitioners experienced less irritability, had more of a desire to socialize, and struggled less with concentrating and performing daily tasks. At the same time, they slept better, attended to their self-care more readily, and demonstrated improvements in mood.
Participants who regularly practiced yoga had the opportunity to share feedback about the experience. Many felt calmer and more relaxed and more than half reported an improvement in sleep patterns. More than a quarter of yoga practitioners noted other physical benefits.
This study shows the significant promise of yoga as part of a treatment plan for people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While more research needs to be done on the direct link between yoga and the treatment of PTSD symptoms, yoga holds a great deal of promise as a real option for veterans and other people with PTSD.