It being Veterans Day I thought I would take a moment to address the serious good that practicing Yoga has done for our men and women in uniform, especially those suffering from PTSD. These men and women made the decision to serve their country and protect our freedoms and we should be grateful for their sacrifice. Unfortunately all too often when those Vets come back from their tours they are left with not only physical scars but mental ones as well. Quite often these honorable soldiers become depressed and turn to many forms of comfort and escape to try to rid themselves of their symptoms of PTSD. Yoga has become an alternative therapy to help these soldiers combat the symptoms and maybe help rid them of any chemical dependance they may have fallen in to while trying to self medicate. Why Yoga? or How is this possible? are good questions.
One program being offered is called iRest (short for IntegrativeRestoration it is a uniquely designed yoga practice that has its roots in Yoga Nidra. Walter Reed Army Hospital is currently employing it to treat (quite successfully) our soldiers afflicted with PTSD. It helps them understand and deal with the physical and mental wounds that they have and will most likely deal with on a daily basis for the rest of their lives. iRest has been found to help with such PTSD symptoms as :s anger, hypersensitivity, insomnia, trauma, stress, chronic pain, physical injury, over-medication, aversion to crowds (agoraphobia), and chemical dependency.
What is iRest ? iRest employs relaxation through self examination and meditation. It takes the the soldier through 10 steps that help to promote an sense of well being and calmness.One of the reasons the MDs and Psychologists at Walter Reed think that the program works so well is that it helps the soldiers to accept what happened. They instructors and therapists actually like to use the word "welcome". You may think that the last thing the soldier wants to do is welcome the thoughts of their wounds but it helps them to take that first leap into the healing process. Without acknowledging the past and the confusing issues floating around unorganized in their minds healing cannot occur.
Another popular program that exists is called Yoga Warrior. Yoga Warrior actually trains instructors to help Veterans suffering from PTSD but ALSO to help them deal with the stress of the war zone and maybe prevent some of the mental wounds that they come home with. The method was developed by Lucy S. Cimini, RYT (500 hours), founding director, Yoga Warriors International, and Central Mass Yoga & Wellness in West Boylston, Mass. This method is based on years of experience helping veterans suffering from PTSD. She has pioneered the idea of a practice specialized with positive affirmations and asanas with the neurophysiological effects that aid in changing negative thinking patterns that develop (of course) in the environment of the warzone that is so riddled with stressors. The environment that they practice in is neutral, relaxing,and devoid of triggers for the PTSD symptoms.
I am thrilled by these programs and the good that they are doing for the men and women who have risked so much for us. Should we do everything we can to help them? The idea of Yoga and Soldiers seems foreign but IT WORKS
Here are two videos about the great work yoga has done for the Veterans