Below is a link w a PDF two page document on the basics of Yoga and it's profound affect on persons w PTSD. Many people can have PTSD who have done difficult jobs. Doctor's, Nurses, Firefighters, Police Officers and more. Persons who have been abused or held hostage. The list goes on. You need not be a World War II or Vietnam Veteran to suffer from PTSD.
I recently spoke to a yoga teacher new friend of mine who works with PTSD ward at a Veterans hospital in an intensive three month program where yoga is NOT an option, but a requirement of inpatient care for this PTSD recovery intensive. Can you imagine teaching yoga to veterans who don't want to take yoga class? Wow, what a job she has!
Her best advice to me as a yoga teacher learning to deal w the PTSD student:
1. Do not touch them. They do not want it and it could go south on you in a heartbeat. They need to feel safe. You touching them can take that away from them, so you are doing the exact opposite to them, makign them feel unsafe, uncomfortable, un-everything.
2. Stay in the front of the room where they can see you at all times. No sneaking up on people. Not everyone knows where you are in the room. People tend to drift (in their minds) in yoga class. A PTSD person is way more comfortable knowing you are in the same place you where a minute ago.
3. Initiate lots of work on "body awarenes". Get them to feel their bodies again. They were not allowed to "feel" for a long time. It's a process that needs to be addressed every class. Feel the breath enter the body. Feel the openness of the hips in Warrior II, Frog, Lotus... Feel how yoga feels in the body. It's not only OK to feel, it's a good thing.
And last but not least.
4. Pranayama. Breath is key to yoga, and if anyone needs a little Pranayama, it's the PTSD student. Calming breaths not "Breath of Fire" work to ask the body, mind and energy "prana" to work together in a calm and settling way.
The link below is from Dr.Bessel van der Kolk.
He is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He has pioneered the use of Yoga as a therapy that is helping these individuals to work through their PTSD and regain a sense of mastery. He discusses mind-body connections in trauma, how Yoga works and precautions for teaching trauma-sensitive Yoga students.
Debbie Krejci E-RYT
become a yoga teacher