Over 2.1 million American men and women have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. These men and women, who make up less than one-half of 1% of the population of The United States, bear the burden of the visible and invisible scars from the horrid circumstances and events of war. Rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans have been found to be increasing, with estimates as high as 20% in war veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, many veterans with and without PTSD will suffer from Major Depression, Traumatic Brain Injury, and addiction, sometimes leading to violence and aggression, legal issues, homelessness, and even suicide.
Fortunately, many veterans find comfort and recovery from the evidence-based treatments offered in VA and DOD treatment programs. Unfortunately, even evidence-based psychotherapies do not work for most veterans and service members, and leave many others with residual symptoms. In addition, research indicates that many veterans, for a variety of factors, do not access these psychotherapies, and even trained clinicians often do not offer them. Perhaps for these reasons, many treatment programs are now integrating complementary therapies like mindful yoga therapy. For example, over 1/4 of VA PTSD treatment programs offer yoga as a complementary part of treatment. Clinicians find that mindful yoga therapy provides the self-regulation skills that are needed to effectively engage in and benefit from trauma-processing therapies. Veterans participating in these programs have found that mindful yoga therapy helps them sleep better, concentrate and think more clearly, manage anger and aggression more easily, and find comfort in their own skin. Yoga may not cure posttraumatic stress disorder; yet, veterans and active-duty from all branches and eras of services find these practices to be a significant and necessary part of their recovery.
Mindful yoga therapy is an evidence-informed, clinically-tested, yoga program that was developed specifically for veterans recovering from posttraumatic stress and other psychological difficulties. It is an evidence-informed, in that practices have been chosen and adapted based on clinical and neuro-scientific knowledge about posttraumatic stress. It is also clinically-tested, in that it was developed based on the feedback of hundreds of veterans and active-duty service members receiving treatment at residential and outpatient treatment programs. Mindful yoga therapy has been successfully integrated into mental health and addiction treatment programs for veterans and active-duty military across the US and Canada.