Spartan Races and Tough Mudders? Yoga Isn’t For Everyone…

…and we understand that.

Although I’m a yoga teacher and I wholeheartedly believe in its benefits, I realize it isn’t for everyone. Even in my own life, there are days when yoga just doesn’t cut it for me and I need something more, which for me is when weightlifting comes in. Here at WarRetreat we are well aware of the many different avenues available to Veterans to help them regain balance after war and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. does just that.

10-mile tough mudder obstacle course

10-mile tough mudder obstacle course

Spartan Races, Weightlifting, and Tough Mudder races are all other options available to individuals looking to re-gain control, re-connect with their breath, and develop a new understanding of personal and mental strength.

Recently Team X-T.R.E.M.E participated in a Spartan Race Demo in New York City and some of their participation was recorded by Rob Bailey, who runs the lifestyle brand Flag nor Fail. Rob compiled some of the footage of his wife, IFBB Pro Dana Linn Bailey, and Team X-T.R.E.M.E. during this event and released a video with some of the highlights. If this video doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.

After watching that, you don’t have any excuses on why you can’t do something. So just keep that in mind. Even if yoga isn’t for you, there is still something out there that is, so go find it.

Coming Up in San Diego: Semper Sarah Bootcamp

Recently we introduced you to Semper Sarah and the work she does with Veterans. On Saturday December 1st, 2012 in San Diego, CA Sarah is holding a bootcamp workshop for individuals who have experienced the effects of stress, trauma, and grief on the mind, body, and spirit.

This one-day event will “equip participants with the tools to start living a happier, healthier, and more successful life that very day”. The idea for the bootcamp came to Sarah after returning from Iraq and battling the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sexual trauma. She realized she could help others by sharing her road back to health. Participants will gain a greater understanding of how to make realistic yet unique changes that will reduce the stress, suffering, or unhappiness in their lives.

Click here to find out more information on the event or to sign up! The cost for the event is currently $97, until tomorrow when it goes up to $297. Event participants will have first access to Sarah’s new book, Just Roll with It: Stop Comparing, Competing, and Self-Defeating which will be released at the event.

Focusing On Your Breath

Since it is National Yoga Month we wanted to take a moment and point out another fellow yogi working within the Veteran community, as she herself is a Veteran. While looking through Sarah’s website, I noticed this blog post that I wanted to share.

In this post Sarah goes on to explain how important it is to tune into your breath. I think this is an important issue, not only in yoga class, but also in any situation. Most people go throughout their daily experiences not even noticing their breath – and often have to get clenbuterol online when their breathing issues arise not knowing resetting your breathing via yoga can be just as effective.

Sarah explains that “But overall, breath can be more than just something that keeps our gears turning.  Breath can be the oil on those gears, the metaphorical love that keeps the flame burning, our vitality.  In life, the “breath” represents what is the most important to us.  The breath, literally, is our life force and something we cannot live without.  Yet 99% of the time, we breathe mindlessly, effectively living mindlessly.”

 It is important to keep this in mind as we move throughout our day, not only reserving it for our yoga class. You can find Sarah over at her website or on her facebook!

Las Vegas MOVE Demo

Over the past month I’ve had the chance to teach two yoga demos for Southern Nevada VA’s MOVE program. Going into these demos, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I had been given a “run-down” about the usual participants, that typically the population was over 50 years old, 300 lbs+ and had limited mobility. It was a different population than my normal participants, but I was excited to be teaching within the VA and even more excited to be teaching these Veterans wellness skills to improve their health!

I was incredibly nervous going into the first session. However as the participants began to make their way into class, making small talk and asking about the session, I was anxious to get started! The actual group was quite a bit different than I was expecting. I had participants ranging from approximately 30 years old to 75 or 80, with an assortment of health issues. Some looked relatively healthy, some had physical injuries, some were there just for weight loss assistance, and some clearly had a number of health problems. Prior to the class I had assumed it would be mostly females that showed up, since the participants have their choice of which classes to attend and the “stigma” of yoga is that it is mostly for women and as much as I would put that assumption to rest, that was subject to the individuals who actually showed up. Which to my complete surprise was only 1 female and about 12 or 13 males.

The sessions were scheduled to be 45 minutes and I had planned the first 20 or so for “yoga and breathing 101” where I tried to squash some of the yoga myths while introducing the participants to the many different physiological and psychological benefits of yoga. From here I showed the participants chair-based movements they could do at home, this provided options for individuals who were limited mobility and for those who were relatively healthy but new to yoga movements. I introduced them to some simple but beneficial breathing techniques and then continued on to show some out-of-chair movements where chairs or counters could be used for balance assistance. I also gave a run down of props (using the FANTASTIC supplies that have been donated, thanks to some amazing individuals!) and then taught some more traditional beginners movements that could be built off of the chair based movements for the more able participants.

Overall, the group was incredibly receptive and open to the information. Many individuals wanted more information afterwards and I provided a packet with some resources they could utilize as well as a few sample sequences (both chair based and traditional).

Afterwards one of the VA volunteers approached me and informed me that I had received a great turnout, which was rare for new programs and that I had some participants who came out that hadn’t been attending the sessions in quite some time. One participants specifically who had asked quite a few questions during the session and was very receptive to the information, was recently diagnosed with cancer and hadn’t been attending any sessions since the diagnosis. I felt so honored/grateful/amazed that this individual who must have been going through so much, made time to come into my demo. All the hurdles and stress that come into working within a VA disappear when you have moments of gratitude such as that one.


Aprons in Action…Every Vote Counts!

Back a few months ago, we posted about a nonprofit organization, Stiggy’s Dogs, which is very close to Jillian’s heart. Please take a moment to check out that posting if you haven’t already.

This month Stiggy’s Dogs is up for a $25,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation’s Aprons in Action program. The grant would allow Stiggy’s Dogs to build temporary housing for veterans who are in training with their psychiatric service dog. The temporary housing units supply a controlled and safe environment for the training and bonding process.  These “bunkhouses” will allow the veterans and dogs in training to work on their skills and tasks in order to become fully deployed psychiatric service dogs and handlers while simulating the environment each veteran has in his or her own home for a true training experience.

Stiggy’s Dogs is up against three other groups and the contest ends on July 31st, 2012. They are currently in the lead with 2259 votes and it would be fantastic to keep it that way!

How you can help:

By logging on to Facebook and going to the Home Depot Foundations page. From here you select the Aprons In Action tab where you can vote once a day.

Please take the time at vote if you can. At least once, or if you remember to vote once a day that would also help out tremendously. Stiggy’s Dogs is a great organization that really deserves this grant to help them continue to help Veterans recover from the cost of war. It only takes a few minutes and every vote counts!

Giving Back

Here at War Retreat we work with many other organizations which support Veterans. One of this fantastic organizations is Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness, which has teamed up with another super awesome organization, the Veterans Yoga Project, to fund a 6 day retreat for Veterans. But as we know, funding a retreat is not always the easiest task.

100% of the money that is raised will go to funding tuition for the Veterans to participate in the 6 day retreat at Feathered Pipe Ranch.


Please consider taking a moment and checking out Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness and looking at the donation site and if it within your ability, please feel free to donate to the cause. It will help these groups be able to do great things, supporting these Veterans who have given so much.

So You Want To Teach At The VA?

Recently, I’ve been receiving questions about how to start a class at a VA hospital. I wish my answer was as simple as, “Well here is how you do it…”, but it’s nowhere near that simple.

For those of you trying to set up a class at your local VA,  I have once piece of advice: just keep trying. It takes time.

Don’t just make phone calls. Make sure you’re physically going to VA to talk to people, as well as trying to make contacts through social networking. Sooner or later, you’ll meet someone who supports you and will work with you to get something going.

I know most people want to head straight to the PTSD or Mental Health clinic, but that shouldn’t be your only stop. One of the first times I went into the VA in Las Vegas, the Occupational Therapy team was interested in talking with me.

Also, check into your local Vet Centers. They typically offer more activities and it may be easier to attach to a program that is already functioning. At one of the Vet Centers here they have a program called “MOVE” for overweight and inactive Veterans, which I will be presenting a yoga program to over the summer. So try to think outside the box and you may find something that way.

It can get frustrating when you feel as if you are talking to so many different people, who seem interested, but it never goes any further. But trust me, if you keep at it and this work really becomes something that you are passionate about, then sooner or later it will work out.