PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by a traumatic event. While its relationship with the battlefield is well established, anything from an accident to being the victim of a crime to sexual abuse can trigger it, causing nightmares and flashbacks, isolation and irritation, which further elevate stress levels. The brain’s preoccupation with fear and self-preservation means staying in the present feels like an impossible challenge. The sufferer gets stuck in the past, unable to feel respond to current circumstances, or move forwards. 

By focusing on the breath and slow movements, yoga can give the sufferer a safe space in which to feel comfortable and grow strong in the body. Working on the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system, the practice can enable the parasympathetic nervous system to activate – helping to calm and restore, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, and enabling the possibility of relaxation. 

Once this practice of breath, postures and relaxation have laid stable physiological foundations the practice of meditation or mindfulness may be introduced. Observation of the internal experience without getting too involved in it can help modulate the fear centre and help us become more focused. 

Clinical studies have suggested these practices, with their emphasis on staying in the present moment, to be a useful treatment for PTSD; helping reduce symptoms including anxiety and depression, and diminishing related substance and alcohol dependency.

What the clinical studies say


  • Alleviates depression 
  • Improves quality of life 
  • Reduces anxiety 
  • Reduces psychological distress 
  • Reduces PTSD symptoms
  •  Reduces risk of alcohol and drug use

  • Reduces substance abuse

  • Alleviates depression 
  • Reduces drug and alcohol abuse 
  • Reduces PTSD symptoms