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The Research

This research study was presented at the International Association of Women's Mental Health 2022 Conference in the Netherlands by Brenda Hershey of TRY Global and Dr. Bayan Rasul of Emma Organization.


In partnership with Emma Organization for Human Development, a Kurdish organization providing mental health support to vulnerable women in the region, 23 conflict-affected women in Iraq completed an 8-week Trauma Recovery Yoga  intervention.

They completed brief surveys at the beginning and end of each class that unanimously showed an immediate decrease in stress level, relief in physical discomfort and improved mental clarity.

See below for the longer-term benefits experienced by participants.

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Young Yazidi women (survivors of genocide) with their certificates of completion.

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Local humanitarian workers with their certificates of completion.

The Results

Impact on Mental Trauma Symptoms

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The beneficiaries (young Yazidi women, survivors of genocide) saw a 46% improvement in anxiety-related symptoms and 62% improvement in depression-related symptoms.

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The local humanitarian staff saw a 50% improvement in anxiety-related symptoms and 50% improvement in depression-related symptoms.

Impact on Physical Trauma Symptoms

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62% of beneficiaries saw some improvement in their physical trauma symptoms which included flashbacks, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, digestive issues, among others.

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100% of humanitarian staff saw some improvement in their physical trauma symptoms!

Resilience Levels

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62% of beneficiaries saw improved resilience levels, meaning they have a greater ability handle stress.

56% of humanitarian staff saw improved resilience levels.

Heart-Rate Variability


62% of beneficiaries saw an increase in HRV, meaning their nervous system made some shift toward the parasympathetic (calm) state.

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33% of humanitarians saw increased HRV. 
11% showed no change in HRV.
44% saw a decrease in HRV. It is important to note the circumstances of the humanitarians two days before their last HRV reading was taken; having just returned from a mass burial of their community members in Shingal. This likely contributed to the sharp decrease in HRV.

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