What Is Yoga Helping US Military Soldiers Fight Against?
Yoga. Whether you can’t get enough of it or can’t get away from it, there’s no denying its peaceful approach to connecting one’s body and mind. Who’d have thought that this practice is now more and more becoming the method of choice for relieving PTSD symptoms in US soldiers?
“Historically, PTSD has been overwhelmingly treated as a mental health condition with psychological treatments, and the body has been ignored,” said Harvard researcher Sat Bir Khalsa, who continues to conduct yoga trials on military personnel. “But PTSD is a mind-body disorder with both mental and physical components. So, yoga, in its blending of physical postures with conscious breathing, adds a strong dimension for the existing treatment of PTSD.”
One downside to the treatment is a yoga master’s potentially conflicting perspective on teaching yoga to a trained fighter. The practice is meant to build inner peace, not facilitate any country’s ability to battle another.
“As you make a more functional human being, you also have the potential to make a more functional warrior. So the question arises: Are you teaching yoga to help soldiers kill better? There certainly are people who have an ethical qualm about this,” said Khalsa.
Yoga was originally practiced by ascetics in India to help them endure long periods of sitting and meditation. Many people use it today to build physical strength and inner peace, and so far, the effects on the soldiers seem to be promising. “Our results are preliminary, but they do show a statistically significant improvement in the severity of PTSD with yoga,” said Khalsa.