Mind-body practices for post traumatic stress disorder

February 16, 2019 Joe Brady

Tai Chi and Qigong Viable for Post traumatic Stress Disorder (review of 16 studies)

Mind-body practices are increasingly used to provide stress reduction for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mind-body practice encompasses activities with the intent to use the mind to impact physical functioning and improve health.

Researchers conducted a literature review of 16 studies in the published 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 92 articles, only 16 of which were suitable for inclusion in this review. We reviewed only original, full text articles that met the inclusion criteria. Most of the studies have small sample size, but findings from the 16 publications reviewed here suggest that mind-body practices are associated with 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.


Mind-body practices are increasingly used in the treatment of PTSD and are associated with positive impacts on stress-induced illnesses such as depression and PTSD in most existing studies. Knowledge about the diverse modalities of mind-body practices may provide clinicians and patients with the opportunity to explore an individualized and effective treatment plan enhanced by mind-body interventions as part of ongoing self-care.

SourceTai Chi and Qigong Viable for Postraumatic Stress Disorder (review of 16 studies)Kim SH, Schneider SM, Kravitz L, Mermier C, Burge MR., J Investig Med. 2013 Jun;61(5):827-34. 

Tai chi and the Aurora Theatre Shooting

 Jacqui Shumway, Tai Chi instructor and exercise therapist and researcher, and Kim Blair Woodruff, Tai Chi instructor worked for two years at the Aurora Strong Resilience Center, with individuals dealing with Post Traumatic Stress from the Aurora theatre shooting.

Jacqui has worked with survivors of both Columbine and 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. 

Here is a link to the podcast that Jacqui and Kim made about their experiences working with trauma survivors.

Veterans Hospital Using Tai Chi for Treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison Wisconsin has been     using Tai Chi and other Mind Body practices as a part of thier wellness   program in dealing with Veterans suffering from the after effects of the trauma of war. According to an occupationl therapist with the program, Kristi Rietz  “one of the most helpful things we can teach our veterans. If something unpleasant happens we have a tendancy to avoid or ignore it. Tai Chi teaches us to stay with the experience.” Taking that time to face and deal with how we feel helps to address the situation much better than running away from it and starts us on the road back to feeling whole.

Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis. – See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2013/April/Training-Veterans-to-Care-For-Themselves.asp#sthash.i2olyhVX.dpuf