Yoga and Canadian Armed Forces Members' Well-Being: An Analysis Based on Select Physiological and Psychological Measures

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Groll, Dianne
Charbonneau, Danielle
Belanger, Stephanie
Senyshyn, Samantha
Operational Stress Injuries , PTSD , Yoga , Military
INTRODUCTION: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric illness that may develop following a traumatic event or a situation involving the threat of death or serious injury to oneself or others. PTSD is often comorbid with other mental and physical health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Several therapeutic, pharmaceutical, and non-traditional interventions are being investigated to eliminate or reduce the severity of these comorbidities in those who suffer from PTSD. The current study investigated the effect of yoga on individuals who did, or did not, screen positively for PTSD on their self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger. We also examined perceived physical pain, sleep disturbances, and mental and physical health-related quality of life. METHODS: Participants (n=45) were active or retired members of the Canadian Armed Forces; there were 35 males and 10 females, who self-identified as having experienced at least one traumatic operational event. Participants were screened for PTSD and completed a series of questionnaires before and after 12 weekly yoga sessions. RESULTS: There were statistically significant improvements in levels of anger, anxiety, and pain and in quality of sleep in post-yoga scores compared to baseline. Individuals who met the PTSD screening criteria showed significantly greater improvement than those who did not. DISCUSSION: Although future research is needed, this study supports previous findings that weekly yoga sessions may contribute significantly to reducing the severity of some physical and psychological conditions. Our study also shows that yoga may be particularly effective in individuals with PTSD.