We have been offering veterans yoga classes in Bristol, Pennsylvania, twice a week since October 2013. The classes are offered through a partnership between the Lower Bucks YMCA and Meghan’s Foundation. The veterans who participate are both male and female, and range in age from 26 to 75, and have served in the combat theatres of Viet Nam, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them are dealing with post-traumatic stress and are receiving counseling at our Vet Center.
Trauma-sensitive yoga has provided a wonderful adjunct therapy for these veterans. Physically they feel better and have seen improvements in their strength and flexibility. They have also learned ways in which to manage some symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Our instructor is a skilled trauma-sensitive teacher, and spends time at the end of each class guiding a meditation or relaxation exercise. Veterans leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Also they report improved sleep and concentration, and are able to self-soothe when their symptoms flair up. Most importantly, many have incorporated yoga and meditation into their “daily practice”, which helps provide structure and support for their day. They are able to calm themselves down when they have flashbacks or intrusive memories, and are generally enjoying an improved quality of life.
As a therapist, I can’t overemphasize the difference that these classes have made to our veterans. They are continuously improving, and are grateful for this opportunity and the support that they’ve received from Meghan’s Foundation. As am active yoga and meditation participant, I can attest to the improvement in stress management, flexibility, and the overall feeling of peacefulness that yoga and meditation have provided for me. My fellow veterans and I can’t thank Meghan’s Foundation enough, and wish to thank the hundreds of supporters of this wonderful organization.
LCDR, USNR (RET)
Bucks County Vet Center 238, Bristol PA