Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Mind-body practices

Mind-body practices are increasingly used to provide stress reduction for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mind-body practice encompasses activities like tai chi, qigong, yoga and other forms of mindful meditation and relaxation techniques. These kind of mind/body exercises have been shown  to impact physical functioning and improve both mental and physical health.

Tai Chi Helping Heal Trauma After Aurora theater Shooting


Jacqui Shumway, Tai Chi instructor and exercise therapist and researcher, and Kim Blair Woodruff, Tai Chi instructor worked extensively with the Aurora Strong Resilience Center where they worked with survivors of the Aurora Theater shootings as well as with soldiers experiencing post traumatic stress. Kim, a survivor of the Columbine shooting who found healing through Jacqui’s Tai Chi classes, started a Tai Chi program at the Aurora Strong Resilience Center to help other’s who have experienced extreme trauma.
Jacqui and her husband, Joseph Brady, founded the T’ai Chi Project and the Living Younger Longer Institute in Denver, Colorado. Over the past 25 years, the husband/wife team has worked extensively with hospitals, universities, and the community to teach, research, and promote the benefits of T’ai Chi and exercise for lifelong health.

Jacqui was interviewed about the program on Mind & Body in Motion with host Susan Chandler airs on internet radio station Tuesdays from 4 to 4:30 pm MT.


In case you missed the show, here’s the recording –


Evidence Base for Mind/Body Exercises and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

A literature review using PubMed, PsycINFO, and Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress to identify the effects of mind-body intervention modalities, such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, and deep breathing, as interventions for PTSD.

The literature search identified 16 good studies which were suitable for inclusion in this review. Findings from the 16 publications reviewed suggest that mind-body practices provide positive impacts on PTSD symptoms. Mind-body practices incorporate numerous therapeutic effects on stress responses, including reductions in anxiety, depression, and anger, and increases in pain tolerance, self-esteem, energy levels, ability to relax, and ability to cope with stressful situations. In general, mind-body practices were found to be a viable intervention to improve the constellation of PTSD symptoms such as intrusive memories, avoidance, and increased emotional arousal.

Taking Control verses Feeling Helpless

Mind-body practices are increasingly used in the treatment of PTSD and provide many positive effects on stress-induced illnesses such as depression and PTSD. Greater awareness, knowledge and usage of the diverse modalities of mind-body practices may provide physicians, psychologists and patients with the opportunity to explore mind-body interventions as part of ongoing self-care that allows patients to take control of their lives again.


see the Aurora Sentinel Article

3 YEARS AFTER: Aurora Strong Resilience Center remains space for survivors, residents to support each other


Kim SH, Schneider SM, Kravitz L, Mermier C, Burge MR., J Investig Med. 2013 Jun;61(5):827-34.
Department of Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA.

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