Abstract

This case series explored the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of therapeutic yoga as a complementary form of treatment for combat-related trauma. The series recruited for and implemented a 10-week Trauma-Informed Yoga protocol for veterans in an interprofessional community health treatment setting. Participants were enrolled in a series of 90-minute therapeutic yoga classes adapted to be trauma-informed. Feasibility was measured by recruitment, retention, and level of participation in the study. Preliminary efficacy was explored via the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, Scale of Body Connection, PROMIS-29, PROMIS Alcohol Use, PROMIS Substance Use, Difficulties in Emotional Regulation Scale, and Self-Compassion Scale–Short Form. All measures were administered at baseline, week 5, week 10, and at a 5-week follow-up. A qualitative Feasibility Questionnaire was administered weekly and at the 5-week follow-up to assess barriers and motivators for home practice and to collect feedback about session content. Recruitment challenges resulted in only seven interested individuals. Four participants (three males, one female) were successfully enrolled in the study after seven phone screenings and five in-person interviews. The four enrolled clients had a 100% follow-up retention rate, reported no adverse events, and on average participated in 85% of classes. Clinically significant enhancements were observed on trauma- and body connection–related scales for three participants from baseline to follow-up. Qualitative data revealed that motivators to practice include in-session philosophical discussions based on psychological themes; breathwork; mindfulness; and physical, social, work/academic, and mental health impact. Barriers included motivation, time, and location. Important themes emerged related to cultural considerations for veterans. Although this 10-week trauma-informed protocol faced challenges to recruitment, retention and participation were high. Efficacy measures yielded promising results for reducing trauma-related symptoms.

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