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Yogautbildare Josefin Wikström i yogaposition med utsträckta armar i bredd

Josefin Wikstrom teaches trauma-adapted yoga.

It is the first scientific study of its kind to describe the effect and feasibility of trauma-adapted yoga in forensic psychiatry.

- It is a breakthrough that we can now demonstrate the possibility of using yoga as a complementary care intervention in psychiatry and the positive effects it brings, says Nóra Kerekes, Professor in Medical Sciences (Psychiatry) at the University West, and research leader of the study.

The results of the study are now published in the prestigious scientific journal, Psychiatry Research.

-  We wanted to explore whether previous positive results with the use of yoga in correctional facilities could be transferred to detained individuals suffering from severe psychiatric disorders. Therefore, we evaluated trauma-adapted yoga as a support within forensic psychiatry, says Nóra Kerekes.

Forensic psychiatry deals with the complex challenges that arise at the intersection of psychiatric illness, legal issues, and security concerns.

- There are few high-quality clinical studies on individuals who have committed crimes and who have a serious mental disorder. What exists are either studies on inmates separately or studies of individuals suffering from various psychiatric disorders. For both of these groups, yoga has shown positive effects," says Nóra Kerekes.

Nora Kerekes

Nóra Kerekes, Professor in Medical Sciences (Psychiatry) at the University West, and research leader of the study.

Yoga class for 10 weeks

Self-choice was a central component in the study design, where 56 patients at various forensic psychiatric clinics chose to participate. Over 10 weeks, they either participated in specially developed yoga classes or chose to engage in other forms of physical activity. Throughout the study, changes in their mental health, emotional states, antisocial and aggressive behaviors, pain perception, substance cravings, and ability to control their behavior and emotional reactions were observed.

Positive effects measured

In the current study, the yoga group showed remarkable reductions in negative emotional states, anxiety, paranoid ideation, hostility, and overall psychological distress. These reductions were not observed in the group performing other forms of physical activities. Additionally, the yoga group exhibited a significant reduction in pain frequency, and showd strengthened self-control and accountability.

- We can conclude that trauma-iadapted yoga implemented in a forensic psychiatric setting demonstrates feasibility and results in several positive changes in patients' mental health, emotional states, pain, and self-control, says Nóra Kerekes.

She continues:

- A structured program of trauma-adapted yoga for patients and training for healthcare personnel has been developed and has now been confirmed to be feasible and beneficial within forensic psychiatry.

To the publication
Reference: Kerekes, N. (2024) Exploring the impact of trauma-adapted yoga in forensic psychiatry. Psychiatry Research, 335, 115879,

To the project homepage

Contact about the study:
Nóra Kerekes, Univeristy West,  +46 739 01 34 03

Contact about trauma-adapted yoga and staff training:
Josefin Wikström,