A Qualitative Study Exploring Yoga in Veterans with PTSD Symptoms
International journal of yoga therapy
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2018
Source ID: shanti-sources-69666
Collection: Yoga-Based Interventions for Stress and Anxiety
Abstract: Quantitative studies of yoga have reported reduced posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veterans, but little is known about how and why veterans are attracted to and stick with a yoga practice. Guided by the Health Belief Model, this study examined veterans' perceptions of the benefits, barriers, and motivations to continue practicing trauma-sensitive yoga. Interviews were conducted with nine individuals, five of whom completed a 6-week trauma-sensitive yoga intervention designed for veterans and four who did not complete the intervention. Transcripts were analyzed for themes. The benefits identified by veterans were finding mental stillness, body awareness, and social connection. The barriers were perceptions that yoga is socially unacceptable, especially for men, and physically unchallenging. Understanding these benefits and barriers can help to make yoga more attractive to service members and veterans. For example, medical personnel can refer service members and veterans to yoga not only for PTSD symptoms, but also to address back pain and to reduce isolation. Access to male yoga instructors, especially those who are themselves service members or veterans, could be expanded, and classes could be integrated into physical activity routines required of active-duty personnel. Promotional materials can feature male service members and veterans with captions related to yoga as a way to increase resiliency, self-sufficiency, and physical and mental mission readiness. Findings from this study can help the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration implement yoga as an adjunct or alternative treatment for veterans with PTSD symptoms.