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OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the acute and chronic effects of yoga practice. DESIGN: Quantitative study using a one-group pre-posttest design. SETTING: Visao Futuro Institute, Porangaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. PARTICIPANTS: 22 volunteers (7 men and 15 women). INTERVENTION: Six weeks of a tantric yoga program (TYP), 50 minutes per session, held twice a week from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The local ethics committee approved the protocol. OUTCOME MEASURES: Data were collected in the first week and at the end of the sixth week of TYP. Salivary cortisol concentration (SCC) was used to measure physiology of distress and to analyze the short- and long-term effects of TYP. Psychological distress was evaluated by applying a specific perceived stress questionnaire (PSQ). Results (mean+/-standard deviation) were analyzed by Wilcoxon test (p<0.05). RESULTS: SCC decreased 24% after the first (0.66+/-0.20 mug/dL versus 0.50+/-0.13 mug/dL) and last (1.01+/-0.37 versus 0.76+/-0.31 mug/dL) sessions, showing the short-term effect of yoga. Long-term effects were analyzed by daily rhythm of cortisol production. In the beginning, volunteers showed altered SCC during the day, with nighttime values (0.42+/-0.28) higher than those at noon (0.30+/-0.06). After the TYP, SCC was higher in the morning (1.01+/-0.37) and decreased during the day, with lower values before sleep (0.30+/-0.13). The TYP was also efficient to reduce PSQ scores (0.45+/-0.13 versus 0.39+/-0.07). Specifically, the irritability, tension, and fatigue domains on the PSQ decreased (0.60+/-0.20 versus 0.46+/-0.13), as did the fear and anxiety domains (0.54+/-0.30 versus 0.30+/-0.20). CONCLUSION: Over the short term, TYP led to the decrease of cortisol production. Over the long term, TYP induced higher cortisol production in the morning and lower production in the evening. Those effects contributed to the physical and mental well-being of the participants.

Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.

Studies on aging and emotion suggest an increase in reported positive affect, a processing bias of positive over negative information, as well as increasingly adaptive regulation in response to negative events with advancing age. These findings imply that older individuals evaluate information differently, resulting in lowered reactivity to, and/or faster recovery from, negative information, while maintaining more positive responding to positive information. We examined this hypothesis in an ongoing study on Midlife in the US (MIDUS II) where emotional reactivity and recovery were assessed in a large number of respondents (N = 159) from a wide age range (36-84 years). We recorded eye-blink startle magnitudes and corrugator activity during and after the presentation of positive, neutral and negative pictures. The most robust age effect was found in response to neutral stimuli, where increasing age is associated with a decreased corrugator and eyeblink startle response to neutral stimuli. These data suggest that an age-related positivity effect does not essentially alter the response to emotion-laden information, but is reflected in a more positive interpretation of affectively ambiguous information. Furthermore, older women showed reduced corrugator recovery from negative pictures relative to the younger women and men, suggesting that an age-related prioritization of well-being is not necessarily reflected in adaptive regulation of negative affect.
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Among younger adults, the ability to willfully regulate negative affect, enabling effective responses to stressful experiences, engages regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala. Because regions of PFC and the amygdala are known to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, here we test whether PFC and amygdala responses during emotion regulation predict the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol secretion. We also test whether PFC and amygdala regions are engaged during emotion regulation in older (62- to 64-year-old) rather than younger individuals. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging as participants regulated (increased or decreased) their affective responses or attended to negative picture stimuli. We also collected saliva samples for 1 week at home for cortisol assay. Consistent with previous work in younger samples, increasing negative affect resulted in ventral lateral, dorsolateral, and dorsomedial regions of PFC and amygdala activation. In contrast to previous work, decreasing negative affect did not produce the predicted robust pattern of higher PFC and lower amygdala activation. Individuals demonstrating the predicted effect (decrease < attend in the amygdala), however, exhibited higher signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) for the same contrast. Furthermore, participants displaying higher VMPFC and lower amygdala signal when decreasing compared with the attention control condition evidenced steeper, more normative declines in cortisol over the course of the day. Individual differences yielded the predicted link between brain function while reducing negative affect in the laboratory and diurnal regulation of endocrine activity in the home environment.
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Although the co-occurrence of negative affect and pain is well recognized, the mechanism underlying their association is unclear. To examine whether a common self-regulatory ability impacts the experience of both emotion and pain, we integrated neuroimaging, behavioral, and physiological measures obtained from three assessments separated by substantial temporal intervals. Our results demonstrated that individual differences in emotion regulation ability, as indexed by an objective measure of emotional state, corrugator electromyography, predicted self-reported success while regulating pain. In both emotion and pain paradigms, the amygdala reflected regulatory success. Notably, we found that greater emotion regulation success was associated with greater change of amygdalar activity following pain regulation. Furthermore, individual differences in degree of amygdalar change following emotion regulation were a strong predictor of pain regulation success, as well as of the degree of amygdalar engagement following pain regulation. These findings suggest that common individual differences in emotion and pain regulatory success are reflected in a neural structure known to contribute to appraisal processes.
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BACKGROUND: Autism is a syndrome of unknown cause, marked by abnormal development of social behavior. Attempts to link pathological features of the amygdala, which plays a key role in emotional processing, to autism have shown little consensus. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate amygdala volume in individuals with autism spectrum disorders and its relationship to laboratory measures of social behavior to examine whether variations in amygdala structure relate to symptom severity. DESIGN: We conducted 2 cross-sectional studies of amygdala volume, measured blind to diagnosis on high-resolution, anatomical magnetic resonance images. Participants were 54 males aged 8 to 25 years, including 23 with autism and 5 with Asperger syndrome or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, recruited and evaluated at an academic center for developmental disabilities and 26 age- and sex-matched community volunteers. The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised was used to confirm diagnoses and to validate relationships with laboratory measures of social function. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Amygdala volume, judgment of facial expressions, and eye tracking. RESULTS: In study 1, individuals with autism who had small amygdalae were slowest to distinguish emotional from neutral expressions (P=.02) and showed least fixation of eye regions (P=.04). These same individuals were most socially impaired in early childhood, as reported on the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (P<.04). Study 2 showed smaller amygdalae in individuals with autism than in control subjects (P=.03) and group differences in the relation between amygdala volume and age. Study 2 also replicated findings of more gaze avoidance and childhood impairment in participants with autism with the smallest amygdalae. Across the combined sample, severity of social deficits interacted with age to predict different patterns of amygdala development in autism (P=.047). CONCLUSIONS: These findings best support a model of amygdala hyperactivity that could explain most volumetric findings in autism. Further psychophysiological and histopathological studies are indicated to confirm these findings.
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Abstract Meditation offers a rich and complex field of study. Over the past 40 years, several hundred research studies have demonstrated numerous significant findings including changes in psychological, physiological, and transpersonal realms. This paper attempts to summarize these findings, and to review more recent meditation research. We then suggest directions for future research, emphasizing the necessity to continue to expand the paradigm from which meditation research is conducted, from a predominantly re‐ductionistic, biomedical model to one which includes subjective and transpersonal domains and an integral perspective.

OBJECTIVE: The anterior cingulate cortex has been implicated in depression. Results are best interpreted by considering anatomic and cytoarchitectonic subdivisions. Evidence suggests depression is characterized by hypoactivity in the dorsal anterior cingulate, whereas hyperactivity in the rostral anterior cingulate is associated with good response to treatment. The authors tested the hypothesis that activity in the rostral anterior cingulate during the depressed state has prognostic value for the degree of eventual response to treatment. Whereas prior studies used hemodynamic imaging, this investigation used EEG. METHOD: The authors recorded 28-channel EEG data for 18 unmedicated patients with major depression and 18 matched comparison subjects. Clinical outcome was assessed after nortriptyline treatment. Of the 18 depressed patients, 16 were considered responders 4-6 months after initial assessment. A median split was used to classify response, and the pretreatment EEG data of patients showing better (N=9) and worse (N=9) responses were analyzed with low-resolution electromagnetic tomography, a new method to compute three-dimensional cortical current density for given EEG frequency bands according to a Talairach brain atlas. RESULTS: The patients with better responses showed hyperactivity (higher theta activity) in the rostral anterior cingulate (Brodmann's area 24/32). Follow-up analyses demonstrated the specificity of this finding, which was not confounded by age or pretreatment depression severity. CONCLUSIONS: These results, based on electrophysiological imaging, not only support hemodynamic findings implicating activation of the anterior cingulate as a predictor of response in depression, but they also suggest that differential activity in the rostral anterior cingulate is associated with gradations of response.
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OBJECTIVES: This study assessed yoga as an adjuvant strategy for symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). METHODS: Subjects had significant, combat-related PTSD. Control data were collected during an eight-week waiting period. Trauma-sensitive yoga sessions of 90 minutes duration were provided every seven days for eight weeks. Assessments included the PTSD checklist (PCL); the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS); the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI); the Adult/Adolescent Sensory Profile (AASP); the SF36 Quality of Life instrument; and a brief, structured pre-enrolment assessment of attitudes towards yoga. Biomarkers were also assessed. RESULTS: Thirty participants were recruited, with 28 completing the protocol ( Mage=63.5 years). For most variables, there was no significant change in results after the waiting period. Comparing measurements obtained immediately prior to the commencement of the intervention to those taken after completion of eight yoga sessions, significant changes included an increase in the serum dehydroepiandrosterone concentration, decreased total PCL score (and all PCL sub-scales), decreases in all DASS sub-scale scores and significant improvements in PSQI and SF36 scores. No adverse events were reported. CONCLUSIONS: A range of benefits were observed after yoga, consistent with the theoretical construct for the long history of yoga as a strategy to reduce stress and promote well-being.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 34: 363–373SummaryBackground Stress perception and GI-specific anxiety play key roles in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a widely available stress reduction course, which has not been evaluated for IBS.Aim To determine whether participation in MBSR is associated with improvement in bowel symptoms, GI-specific anxiety, and IBS-Quality of Life.Methods This is a prospective study of 93 participants in MBSR. We applied measures of Rome III IBS status, bowel symptoms (IBS-Severity Scoring System, IBS-SSS), IBS-Quality of Life (IBS-QOL), GI-specific anxiety (Visceral Sensitivity Index, VSI), mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire-FFMQ), and functional status (SF-8) at baseline and 2 and 6 months after enrolment.Results At 2 months, participation in MBSR was associated with small nonsignificant changes in IBS-SSS, IBS-QOL and VSI: d = −0.25, d = 0.08, d = −0.16, respectively. At 6 months, there was no significant change in IBS-SSS (d = −0.36); whereas for IBS-QOL and VSI there were significant improvements (IBS-QOL: d = 0.33, P = 0.044; VSI: d = −0.40, P = 0.014). For patients meeting Rome III IBS criteria (n = 43), changes in IBS-SSS, IBS-QOL and VSI were not statistically significant, but there was a significant correlation between the change in VSI and the change in FFMQ across the three time periods (r = 0.33).Conclusions Participation in MBSR is associated with improvement IBS-related quality of life and GI-specific anxiety. Randomised controlled trials are warranted to further assess the role of MBSR for IBS symptomatology.

OBJECTIVES: To assess outcomes of veterans who participated in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).DESIGN: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression, functional status, behavioral activation, experiential avoidance, and mindfulness were assessed at baseline, and 2 and 6 months after enrollment. RESULTS: At 6 months, there were significant improvements in PTSD symptoms (standardized effect size, d = -0.64, p< 0.001); depression (d = -0.70, p<0.001); behavioral activation (d = 0.62, p<0.001); mental component summary score of the Short Form-8 (d = 0.72, p<0.001); acceptance (d = 0.67, p<0.001); and mindfulness (d = 0.78, p<0.001), and 47.7% of veterans had clinically significant improvements in PTSD symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: MBSR shows promise as an intervention for PTSD and warrants further study in randomized controlled trials.

This study compared the asymmetry of different features of brain electrical activity during the performance of a verbal task (word finding) and a spatial task (dot localization) that had been carefully matched on psychometric properties and accompanying motor activity. Nineteen right-handed subjects were tested. EEG was recorded from F3, F4, C3, C4, P3, and P4, referred to both CZ and computer-derived averaged-ears references, and Fourier transformed. Power in the delta, theta, alpha, and beta bands was computed. There were significant Task X Hemisphere effects in all bands for CZ-referenced data and for the alpha and beta bands for ears-referenced data. The effects were always either greater power suppression in the hemisphere putatively most engaged in task processing or greater power in the opposite hemisphere. Correlations between EEG and task performance indicated that CZ-referenced parietal alpha asymmetry accounted for the most variance in verbal task performance. Power within individual hemispheres or across hemispheres was unrelated to task performance. The findings indicate robust differences in asymmetrical brain physiology that are produced by well-matched verbal and spatial cognitive tasks.
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Many scholars have made the call for teacher educators to provide experiences that can lead preservice teachers to embrace a culturally responsive pedagogy. We investigated the use of brief autobiographies during an internship as a tool (a) for preservice teachers to examine their multidimensional culture; and (b) for teacher educators to assess preservice teachers' developing understandings about cultural responsive pedagogy and then further design curriculum to enhance these understandings. Using qualitative methods, we analyzed the preservice teachers' (N = 24) autobiographies and an interview with the professor of this course. Based on the findings of this study, we suggest teacher educators need to develop experiences and opportunities that will enable preservice teachers to reflect on how culture impacts teaching and learning behaviors. Therefore, preservice teachers will be better prepared to teach all students.

Functional MRI resting state and connectivity studies of brain focus on neural fluctuations at low frequencies which share power with physiological fluctuations originating from lung and heart. Due to the lack of automated software to process physiological signals collected at high magnetic fields, a gap exists in the processing pathway between the acquisition of physiological data and its use in fMRI software for both physiological noise correction and functional analyses of brain activation and connectivity. To fill this gap, we developed an open source, physiological signal processing program, called PhysioNoise, in the python language. We tested its automated processing algorithms and dynamic signal visualization on resting monkey cardiac and respiratory waveforms. PhysioNoise consistently identifies physiological fluctuations for fMRI noise correction and also generates covariates for subsequent analyses of brain activation and connectivity.
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Up to 50% of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not recover after two antidepressant medication trials, and therefore meet the criteria for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is one promising treatment; however, the extent to which MBCT influences clinical outcomes relative to baseline neural activation remains unknown. In the present study we investigated baseline differences in amygdala activation between TRD patients and healthy controls (HCs), related amygdala activation to depression symptoms, and examined the impacts of MBCT and amygdala activation on longitudinal depression outcomes. At baseline, TRD patients (n = 80) and HCs (n = 37) participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging task in which they identified either the emotion (affect labeling) or the gender (gender labeling) of faces, or passively viewed faces (observing). The TRD participants then completed eight weeks of MBCT or a health enhancement program (HEP). Relative to HCs, the TRD patients demonstrated less amygdala activation during affect labeling, and marginally less during gender labeling. Blunted amygdala activation in TRD patients during affect labeling was associated with greater depression severity. MBCT was associated with greater depression reductions than was HEP directly following treatment; however, at 52 weeks the treatment effect was not significant, and baseline amygdala activation across the task conditions predicted depression severity in both groups. TRD patients have blunted amygdala responses during affect labeling that are associated with greater concurrent depression. Furthermore, although MBCT produced greater short-term improvements in depression than did HEP, overall baseline amygdala reactivity was predictive of long-term clinical outcomes in both groups.

Enhancing body awareness has been described as a key element or a mechanism of action for therapeutic approaches often categorized as mind-body approaches, such as yoga, TaiChi, Body-Oriented Psychotherapy, Body Awareness Therapy, mindfulness based therapies/meditation, Feldenkrais, Alexander Method, Breath Therapy and others with reported benefits for a variety of health conditions. To better understand the conceptualization of body awareness in mind-body therapies, leading practitioners and teaching faculty of these approaches were invited as well as their patients to participate in focus groups. The qualitative analysis of these focus groups with representative practitioners of body awareness practices, and the perspectives of their patients, elucidated the common ground of their understanding of body awareness. For them body awareness is an inseparable aspect of embodied self awareness realized in action and interaction with the environment and world. It is the awareness of embodiment as an innate tendency of our organism for emergent self-organization and wholeness. The process that patients undergo in these therapies was seen as a progression towards greater unity between body and self, very similar to the conceptualization of embodiment as dialectic of body and self described by some philosophers as being experienced in distinct developmental levels.
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The brain and the cardiovascular system influence each other during the processing of emotion. The study of the interactions of these systems during emotion regulation has been limited in human functional neuroimaging, despite its potential importance for physical health. We have previously reported that mental expertise in cultivation of compassion alters the activation of circuits linked with empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli. Guided by the finding that heart rate increases more during blocks of compassion meditation than neutral states, especially for experts, we examined the interaction between state (compassion vs. neutral) and group (novice, expert) on the relation between heart rate and BOLD signal during presentation of emotional sounds presented during each state. Our findings revealed that BOLD signal in the right middle insula showed a significant association with heart rate (HR) across state and group. This association was stronger in the left middle/posterior insula when experts were compared to novices. The positive coupling of HR and BOLD was higher within the compassion state than within the neutral state in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex for both groups, underlining the role of this region in the modulation of bodily arousal states. This state effect was stronger for experts than novices in somatosensory cortices and the right inferior parietal lobule (group by state interaction). These data confirm that compassion enhances the emotional and somatosensory brain representations of others' emotions, and that this effect is modulated by expertise. Future studies are needed to further investigate the impact of compassion training on these circuits.
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The phobic fear response appears to resemble an intense form of normal threat responding that can be induced in a nonthreatening situation. However, normative and phobic fear are rarely contrasted directly, thus the degree to which these two types of fear elicit similar neural and bodily responses is not well understood. To examine biological correlates of normal and phobic fear, 21 snake phobic and 21 nonphobic controls saw videos of slithering snakes, attacking snakes and fish in an event-related fMRI design. Simultaneous eletrodermal, pupillary, and self-reported affective responses were collected. Nonphobic fear activated a network of threat-responsive brain regions and involved pupillary dilation, electrodermal response and self-reported affect selective to the attacking snakes. Phobic fear recruited a large array of brain regions including those active in normal fear plus additional structures and also engendered increased pupil dilation, electrodermal and self-reported responses that were greater to any snake versus fish. Importantly, phobics showed greater between- and within-subject concordance among neural, electrodermal, pupillary, and subjective report measures. These results suggest phobic responses recruit overlapping but more strongly activated and more extensive networks of brain activity as compared to normative fear, and are characterized by greater concordance among neural activation, peripheral physiology and self-report. It is yet unclear whether concordance is unique to psychopathology, or rather simply an indicator of the intense fear seen in the phobic response, but these results underscore the importance of synchrony between brain, body, and cognition during the phobic reaction.
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BACKGROUND: The frontal lobe has been crucially involved in the neurobiology of major depression, but inconsistencies among studies exist, in part due to a failure of considering modulatory variables such as symptom severity, comorbidity with anxiety, and distinct subtypes, as codeterminants for patterns of brain activation in depression. METHODS: Resting electroencephalogram was recorded in 38 unmedicated subjects with major depressive disorder and 18 normal comparison subjects, and analyzed with a tomographic source localization method that computes the cortical three-dimensional distribution of current density for standard electroencephalogram frequency bands. Symptom severity and anxiety were measured via self-report and melancholic features via clinical interview. RESULTS: Depressed subjects showed more excitatory (beta3, 21.5-30.0 Hz) activity in the right superior and inferior frontal lobe (Brodmann's area 9/10/11) than comparison subjects. In melancholic subjects, this effect was particularly pronounced for severe depression, and right frontal activity correlated positively with anxiety. Depressed subjects showed posterior cingulate and precuneus hypoactivity. CONCLUSIONS: While confirming prior results implicating right frontal and posterior cingulate regions, this study highlights the importance of depression severity, anxiety, and melancholic features in patterns of brain activity accompanying depression.
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Given the limited success of conventional treatments for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), investigations of alternative approaches are warranted. We examined the effects of a breathing-based meditation intervention, Sudarshan Kriya yoga, on PTSD outcome variables in U.S. male veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan war. We randomly assigned 21 veterans to an active (n = 11) or waitlist control (n = 10) group. Laboratory measures of eye-blink startle and respiration rate were obtained before and after the intervention, as were self-report symptom measures; the latter were also obtained 1 month and 1 year later. The active group showed reductions in PTSD scores, d = 1.16, 95% CI [0.20, 2.04], anxiety symptoms, and respiration rate, but the control group did not. Reductions in startle correlated with reductions in hyperarousal symptoms immediately postintervention (r = .93, p < .001) and at 1-year follow-up (r = .77, p = .025). This longitudinal intervention study suggests there may be clinical utility for Sudarshan Kriya yoga for PTSD.

Neurophysiological studies may explain how breathing techniques normalize stress response, emotion regulation, and autonomic and neuroendocrine system function. Breath practices have been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, mass disasters, depression, and attention deficit disorder. Technology-assisted breathing interventions facilitate therapeutic breathing by using either static cues such as a breath pacer or real-time feedback based on physiological parameters such as heart rate variability. The empirical literature indicates that technology-assisted breathing can be beneficial in mental health treatment, though it may not be appropriate for all individuals. Initial in-person training and evaluation can improve results.

Individuals who suffer from trauma-related symptoms are a unique population that could benefit from the mind-body practice of yoga-or have their symptoms reactivated by it, depending on the type of yoga. Trauma-informed yoga (TIY), that is, yoga adapted to the unique needs of individuals working to overcome trauma, may ameliorate symptoms by creating a safe, tailored practice for students to learn how to respond, rather than react, to symptoms and circumstances. Yoga not thus adapted, on the other hand, may increase reactivity and activate symptoms such as hyperarousal or dissociation. This article reports on expert input about adapting yoga for individuals with trauma, with special considerations for military populations. Eleven experts, recruited based on literature review and referrals, were interviewed in person or via telephone and asked seven questions about trauma-informed yoga. Verbatim transcripts were subjected to open-coding thematic analysis and a priori themes. Findings revealed that TIY needs to emphasize beneficial practices (e.g., diaphragmatic breath and restorative postures), consider contraindications (e.g., avoiding sequences that overly engage the sympathetic nervous system), adapt to limitations and challenges for teaching in unconventional settings (e.g., prisons, VA hospitals), and provide specialized training and preparation (e.g., specialized TIY certifications, self-care of instructors/therapists, adaptions for student needs). TIY for veterans must additionally consider gender- and culture-related barriers, differing relationships to pain and injury, and medication as a barrier to practice.

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