During the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, Army Lt. Col. John Thurman lost 26 of his co-workers. He was trapped in the building for over 25 minutes and experienced severe smoke inhalation which required a week of recovery in the hospital.

Months after, Thurman discovered that he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite the medications he was described, he still had trouble sleeping and his pulmonary function had yet to return to normal.

All of that began to change once Thurman started doing yoga, claiming it “made all the difference in the world in my ability to deal with the stress and my injury from that day.”

Eventually, yoga turned into a passion for Thurman, inspiring him to become a teacher in 2013. He left his position at the Pentagon and now teaches yoga full time. Recently, he and 17 other yoga teachers gathered at a facility in Washington for PTSD and trauma training. The workshops were designed to assist and heal veterans that are suffering from the mental and physical damages of war.

The teachers who attended were able to learn about the possible specific needs of veterans. “The yoga instructors who complete this training will be better equipped to teach students who have experienced trauma by knowing how to mindfully adapt a typical yoga class setting and sequence to be more welcoming, comfortable and beneficial,” says Jess Pierno.

“If you can get a vet to sleep through the night when they have PTSD, then you are so far along in the healing process,” claims Rob Schware, who is the executive director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation.

Stars and Stripes claims that of the 2.3 million American veterans that returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, over 20% experience PTSD, which can include anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance (always being on guard.)

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that has been increasingly embraced by the VA and U.S. military. The Veterans Health Administration has launched a few different pilot programs that include yoga, acupuncture, Qigong, guided imagery, and equine therapies. The programs are part of an effort to decrease dependence on painkillers.

Suzanne Manafort, who manages Mindful Yoga Therapy, says 49 VA offices are currently utilizing her program.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress and researchers claim that they found scientific support that yoga can decrease stress and assist people with negative, traumatic thoughts. It was also the first study of it’s kind to provide support for the benefits of the breathing techniques used in yoga for PTSD patients.

Thurman hopes the VA and Defense Department will boost the programs and offer more opportunities for yoga to vets.

“Everyone can use more yoga.”

The Archuleta Law Firm handles injury, death, and veterans medical malpractice claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act. We handle claims in all 50 States and Worldwide. Our focus is helping Veterans, and the families of Veterans and Military Service Members in their claims involving Veterans (VA) Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics and Military Hospitals, Doctors and Clinics. We handle claims involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force.

Source: Stars and Stripes