Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one
of the most common challenges our veterans
face after serving our country, affecting up to
20% of soldiers of the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars and 30% of Vietnam veterans. A quarter
of a million veterans have been diagnosed with
PTSD and many others suffer in silence. In
2012, the suicide rate among members of the
US military grew by 15 percent, with a documented 22 veterans taking their lives every day,
according to the Department of Veterans Affairs data.
Traumatic events that many of our service men
and women witness in combat can trigger the
sympathetic nervous system—the “fight or flight”
response—long after the event itself, changing
the brain chemistry. Common characterizations
of PTSD, as identified in a study done at John F.
Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California
in 2011, include emotional numbing or volatility, insomnia or nightmares, flashbacks, and
purposeful avoidance of social interactions in an
effort to avoid triggering a memory of the original trauma.
Brad Willis—now known as Bhava Ram—a
former NBC News war correspondent whose
wartime reporting included assignments during the Gulf War, healed himself from a broken
back and stage four throat cancer by utilizing
the sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda. Having
experienced war firsthand, he attests, “While
emotional and physical trauma, especially in
war zones, can have a profoundly deleterious
effect, we are not stuck. We have the capacity to
take charge of our circumstances and chart our
destiny. Yoga provides the tools for this shift.”
MEDICINE TO MEDITATION
Many veterans are tired of dealing with the
side effects of taking the prescription drugs offered to alleviate their symptoms, while others
simply don’t want to seek help from the VA.
“For many veterans, it is shameful for them to
admit there is a problem. There is a particular
mindset to not show your weakness,” says Jennifer Glossinger, an Army Reserve Captain and
yoga instructor herself.
The aforementioned study conducted at John
F. Kennedy University offered weekly classes
of Integrative Restoration (iRest) to military
combat veterans for two months. iRest was developed by Richard Miller, PhD, after he was
involved in a pilot study conducted at Walter
Reed Army Medical Center in collaboration
with the Department of Defense (2006) with
soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Successful results demonstrated that the meditative practice of Yoga Nidra helped decrease
PTSD symptomatology. >