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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2018 Jan;19(1):35-57. doi: 10.1177/1524838015620834. Epub 2015 Dec 9.

Yoga for Trauma and Related Mental Health Problems: A Meta-Review With Clinical and Service Recommendations.

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1 School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
2 Center for Child and Family Health, Durham, NC, USA.
3 UNC Health Care at Meadowmont Wellness Center, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Health and human service providers have expressed growing interest in the benefits of yoga to help individuals cope with the effects of trauma, including anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite the growing popularity and strong appeal of yoga, providers must be mindful of the evidence regarding the efficacy of yoga in treating trauma effects as well as trauma-related mental health symptoms and illnesses. Therefore, our research team sought to answer two questions: (a) What is the evidence regarding yoga as a treatment for trauma effects, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD and (b) what are the clinical and service recommendations for using yoga with trauma-exposed individuals? Our initial scans identified a substantial body of research, including reviews. Rather than replicate earlier efforts, we undertook a systematic meta-review of 13 literature reviews, one of which included a meta-analysis. We determined the 13 reviews examined 185 distinct studies. Findings show that the evidence regarding yoga as an intervention for the effects of trauma as well as the mental health symptoms and illnesses often associated with trauma is encouraging but preliminary. Overall, the body of research is lacking in rigor as well as specificity regarding trauma. Review results also only allow for the recommendation of yoga as an ancillary treatment. Further, the reviews had considerable differences in their methods and limitations. Nonetheless, the results yielded findings concerning how clinicians and service providers can use yoga in their own practices, which is an important step for building an evidence base in this area.


PTSD; anxiety; depression; review; trauma; trauma treatment; traumatic experiences; yoga

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