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.
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.
You’re upset, your mind is churning, and it seems to be a constant state. People are telling you to “Find your breath,” or “Let go of the emotions.” But you’re really not sure what they mean. But you take their suggestion and try some breathing exercises that range from slow breathes in, with an equally slow exhale. You might even fiddle with your nostrils with your fingers while trying to breathe in one and out the other, even though you have the cold from hell and you think the boogers from Mars are going to fly out in a huge green mass. But worse is when someone suggests you meditate, and all you can think of when you hear an Om is “How long do I have to do this for?”
Then there’s the physical aspect. You haven’t sat on the floor since you were a kid. Your thighs feel like they’re on fire, your hip joints are stretching, and your butt is falling sleep. Your neck starts to ache, and what’s with your shoulders? Up or down? And what is that loud, annoying ventilator sound that the person next to you is making? If you’d wanted to listen to a vacuum cleaner, you would have stayed home. Maybe this breathing stuff –this pranayam isn’t for you. You don’t understand why it’s supposed to help, and you really can’t take one more 1-2-3-4-5 hold 5-4-3-2-1. Isn’t there a way to keep it simple?
Sure there is! The teacher may be sitting cross-legged, but a good one knows that everyone’s body does things differently. If your legs don’t cross, by all means, grab 2 blocks, or a blanket and put them under your knees. Sit on blanket or a bolster, lean against the wall, lie down. If there’s a chair nearby, use that. Experiment at home with rolled up towels, a pillow, or yoga blocks.
Then do yourself a favor and get to class 20 minutes early. Set yourself up with whatever you need. Find a spot near the wall so you can lean back on it. Get comfortable and experience the restorative benefits of breath.
Watch Rodney Yee go over getting comfortable, and telling you the rudiments of breath.
A growth in the number of veterans reached through yoga has been noted by the non profit group, Connected Warriors. The organization offers an organized effort to provide free teacher training to yoga teachers who want to work with veterans, classes for veterans and family members in the communities where they live. Just recently, Judy Weaver, founder of Connected Warriors, shared these numbers:
“I just have to share the Connected Warriors attendance record for the month of January 2013. We served 792 service members. Number of Family Members: 636, Number of New Members: 137. We are assisting veterans and their family members in 9 states in 35 weekly classes. Thank you to everyone who supports our mission to provide free yoga, you rock.”
In addition, Connected Warriors was invited to the recent Challenge America Military Opportunities to introduce the benefits of yoga to military families and veterans. The event was held at the Dallas Cowboys stadium, and in attendance were over a thousand veterans and families who heard lectures and interviews by Dr. Oz. In addition, the attendees took part in seminars, symposiums and guest speakers from area veteran and family support organizations that addressed an array of transitional issues, including mental health, employment, housing and family issues. The evening entertainment was a concert from Vince Gill and Amy and Amy Grant and also Jenny Gill.
Connected Warriors brought staff in from Florida, and also worked with its local Texas yoga studio affiliates and set up a yoga area in the stadium. They worked with many military family members and veterans, who were encouraged to seek them out in the community and come to the Connected Warriors classes locally.
To find out more about, request training, take a class from Connected Warriors and make a donation, go to: Connected Warriors, and also follow them on Facebook. To find out more about upcoming CAMO events, please click on the photo on the left.
The crisis always seems to happen at 4 AM. The neighbors never ask directly, but talk about you and your family anyway. Of course, there is the usual mix of things that don’t obviously go together –football, your shrink, and ball room dancing. Many military families will recognize these scenarios, and so it is on this familiar ground that the story unfolds in the film, Silver Linings Playbook. The film by Director David O. Russell and based on a book by Matthew Quick offers a glimpse into the life of Patrizio Solitano, Jr. “Pat” is finding his way to a new path, after emerging from a mental institution after the eruption of his Bipolar Disorder.
This is a film of humanity and truth. Those in the military family often feel they tread alone as they cope with the challenges of TBI, PTSD, depression, anxiety, or post combat stress reactions. Silver Linings Playbook brings a moment of relief as we see confirmation that someone else knows our path too. We recognize the moments of truth in the harried looks of the parents; or a crescendo of emotion brings cops and nosey neighbors to the door. It’s easy to root for Patrizio and his family because we know what it’s like when carefully laid plans are swept away by an outburst of chaos. But the best truth the film brings out is that while life is not easy, it’s not all horrible either. Silver Linings Playbook has a hopeful, yet uncertain ending. But that’s life, and we in the military family understand this.
For the director, David O. Russell, the film was a highly personal one as his teen age son has a mood disorder. Similarly, both Cooper and DeNiro have close family members they’ve spent time with as well. Watch the Silver Linings Playbook Interview.
Our friends at Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness have partnered up with Sivana to form a Community Partnership. Thanks to this community partnership they now have a Warrior-inspired shirt. This an original designed Tee and a portion of the proceeds will go to support SFHW training and education programs.The Yoga Warrior logo represents the battle we all must fight to gain our liberation and find our true inner strength. The Om at the center represents our victory in this great battle. The Yoga Warrior Organic Tee is part of Sivana’s eco-friendly Alternative Earth Collection.
The other night, Charlie Samos –a yoga teacher whose work can be found online at Yogis Anonymous, asked his yoga friends over on Facebook to complete this sentence:
I go to yoga because…..
Most of the responses were about feeling better in a world that is hectic and high pressure. They were heartfelt and true.
But all I could think of was getting in my car, driving to the studio, taking my yoga mat out of the trunk and going to class. In many countries, this wouldn’t be possible for any number of reasons. I’m just grateful to have the freedom to be able to go to yoga when I want.
I also thought about the time my husband set up a yoga room at the Forward Surgical Team hooch in Afghanistan. Bare plywood walls and floors, a chair shoved into a corner, it was a raw, dusty, small space. I’d been able to send one mat, and the team found a few others at the FOB. I’d also sent them a Rodney Yee DVD and the special forces guys were always borrowing it. The discomforting thoughts crept in too: mortar attacks, small arms fire, and MASCALS –anyone who has been in the war community will understand. But there were things that gave me hope in humanity –like the special forces guys and the corpsmen going into the hills with pockets full of finger puppets I’d sent to give to children. There was also the memory of Americans I didn’t know, answering my online plea to send my husband balloons, fruit treats, bubbles and vitamins for a ward full of Afghan children who’d been shot or blown up by the Taliban and were under his team’s care.
So many lives were saved by the teams of physicians, nurses, techs and medics. Thoughts of war are often conflicting, and they run through the minds of those who wait at home. We don’t tell civilians because the responses can range from those who might see us as a tragedy-in-the-making or others who give us an anti-war lecture.
Why I go to yoga isn’t really about me at all. I go because many people have made it possible for me to keep doing so. I do it so ultimately, I will be of service to others. And for me, those are the most important reasons.
Carve out 2 hours, and let this stuff sink in: The Nieman Foundation shares this conversation between journalist Finbarr O’Reilly and PTSD researcher and trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk of The Trauma Center at JRI. Watch: Covering Conflict: War, Storytelling & The Impact of Witnessing Violence on vimeo. So many good points here that we agree on, especially when it comes to funding treatment. Society as a whole should be treated for PTSD, and no group should go wanting. Yet, mental health cuts are regular features in our culture, and the funding for veterans has a predictable cycle. Until this stops, seeking help for PTSD will be an uphill battle for everyone.