Press Release: Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness and The Veterans Yoga Project Form A New Collaborative

By adding the evidence based protocols in the Veterans Yoga Project to our protocols we will be able to deliver the best possible tools for living to our nation’s warriors. -Elijah Sacra, SFH&W

BALTIMORE, MD – April 24, 2012

Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness (SFHW) announces a strategic partnership with the Veterans Yoga Project. The Veterans Yoga Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education and support for the mindful use of therapeutic yoga practices as an aid in the recovery process from PTSD and other psychological distress among US Veterans, their families, and their communities.  Their training curriculum will provide SFHW Yoga teachers with the tools for facilitating evidence based protocols.

A Special thanks to Suzanne Manafort and Dr. Dan Libby from the Veterans Yoga Project:

Suzanne Manafort, ERYT-500, Co-director of Newington Yoga Center is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She studied at Yoga Center Amherst with Patty Townsend, completing her 200 hour and 500 hour programs in Embodyoga®. She also completed 200 hour and 500 hour programs with Beryl Bender Birch and a teacher training with David Swenson.  Most recently, Suzanne has deepened her meditation practice, studying with Pandit Rajmani Tigunait at the Himalayan Institute in The Living Tantra Program.  Suzanne has been teaching yoga to Veterans coping with combat-related PTSD in a PTSD Residential Rehabilitation Program for several years and also teaches groups for women veterans in an outpatient PTSD program.  In 2009, she was designated a Wells Fargo Second Half Champion℠ for her work with Veterans.  Suzanne also serves on the board of directors of the Give Back Yoga Foundation.  She can be contacted at Suzanne@veteransyogaproject.org

Dr. Daniel J. Libby is a licensed clinical psychologist, licensed massage therapist, and RYT-200 yoga teacher.  As part of a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the VA’s Mental Illness Research and Education Clinical Center, he treats Veterans suffering from PTSD and other trauma-related psychiatric disorders at the Connecticut VA Healthcare System, West Haven using psychotherapy and yoga.   As part of the Evaluation Division of the National Center for PTSD, he has conducted research documenting the use of yoga and other complementary and alternative medicine practices in the VA Specialized PTSD Treatment programs, and is lead investigator for a pilot study examining the effects of Mindful Yoga Therapy on symptoms in OEF/OIF Veterans with PTSD. Daniel has recently completed the 200-hour embodyoga™ Teacher Training and serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, the nonprofit educational foundation and yoga retreat center.  Reach out to him at dan@veteransyogaproject.org.

At Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness, they are dedicated to improving the lives of all their members through health & wellness, with a special concern for those who suffer from wounds and injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and other combat related illnesses, chronic pain, disease, obesity and addiction.  In addition to volunteering as SFHW’s Development Director SFHW Yoga for Vets and Staff Yoga Director, Captain CJ Keller and Msgt. Chris Eder will be serving as Veterans Yoga Project Ambassadors as a way to move our joint Mission forward.  

Captain CJ Keller USMCR, RYT, began studying yoga and meditation in 2009 when he met the co-founder of the non-profit organization Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness (SFHW).  In 2011, he earned his 200-hour certification through Charm City Yoga and immediately began teaching free weekly Yoga For Veterans class in Baltimore, Maryland.  In addition, he teaches a weekly class for Veterans in treatment for PTSD at the Baltimore VA.  Drawing from his experience in the Marines and as an occupational therapy graduate student at Towson University, CJ empowers fellow Veterans to overcome the stress and adversities caused by military life, facilitating return of function and meaningful activity.  His teaching emphasizes the current methodologies and protocol developed by Veterans Yoga Project.  CJ is currently serving on the Board of Directors for SFHW and is the Development Director for their yoga program in seven cities. 

Msgt. Chris Eder USAF is a certified Vinyasa/Hatha Interdisciplinary Yoga Instructor.  Chris’ yoga journey began in 1999 after he encountered the joys of a pinched sciatic nerve, and a diagnosis of Adult ADD. A friend introduced him to yoga as an alternative to pain pills and other meds. He was hooked instantly as a student. During a 2007 deployment to Baghdad Iraq with the Air Force, Chris began teaching a morning sunrise yoga class five days a week. Upon returning to Italy for his follow-on assignment, Chris attended Yoga Fit training and began teaching Vinyasa & Hatha inspired classes. He also taught yoga to Wounded Warriors returning from combat action as part of the Warrior Resiliency Program. Chris is a graduate of Frog Lotus Yoga’s 200YTT specializing in Vinyasa and Hatha Interdisciplinary classes.   Chris’ classes are fun but focused.  Chris has an infectious energy and mixes traditional yoga music with mainstream music. His intelligent sequencing and motivation make for an inspiring yoga experience.  Chris is a 21-year Air Force veteran, still serving since August 1990.  When not teaching yoga, he is teaching aspiring military broadcast journalists.  Chris is currently serving as Staff Yoga Director of Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness.

Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness Founder & Executive Director and US Marine Corps Veteran Elijah Sacra said:  We appreciate the motivation and dedication delivered by the those at the Veterans Yoga Project, Captain CJ Keller and Msgt Chris Eder.  We would not be able to move our mission forward without having them as key assets on the SFHW team.  Those that we serve persevere in the face of insurmountable odds and are extremely dedicated in overcoming mental and physical obstacles.  By adding the evidence based protocols in the Veterans Yoga Project to our protocols we will be able to deliver the best possible tools for living to our nation’s warriors. We propose that an investment in an individual’s personal wellness affects the very core of their being and will spread itself outwards in a ripple effect that will directly influence friends, family and the community at large.  Our classes, events and workshops foster a culture of personal empowerment, education and training”

About Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness (http://www.sfhw.org)

Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness is a 501(c) 3 organization that provides Integrative Health and Wellness Solutions that serve Our Nation’s Wounded Warriors, Active Duty & Reserve Military, Veterans, First Responders and their families.

For more information or to make secure online donations, visit: http://sfhw.kintera.org

About the Veterans Yoga Project

The Veterans Yoga Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education and support for the mindful use of therapeutic yoga practices as an aid in the recovery process from PTSD and other psychological distress among US Veterans, their families, and their communities.

For more information or to make secure online donations, visit http://www.veteransyogaproject.org

 

East Coast training dates for yoga teachers … plus a little rant

Click To Register

Over on the Veterans Yoga Project, they have several East Coast training dates for teachers. I really think you should make time for this if you want to work with veterans. Unfortunately, there aren’t any west coast dates.  Read related rant after the break.

From the site (two great people who are absolutely rockin’ it):

Join Suzanne Manafort and Daniel J. Libby as they share their experience working with Veterans with PTSD.

 In this three day teacher training, we’ll cover:

- the development, course, and consequences of PTSD
-the psychotherapeutic treatment of PTSD and how yoga fits into a holistic treatment approach
-the neurophysiology of PTSD and yoga practices
 special considerations and cautions when providing yoga therapy to trauma-affected individuals
 and
– core elements and practices involved in a therapeutic approach to yoga for PTSD

At the end of the workshop, participants will understand the symptoms of PTSD, how those symptoms are related to underlying neurobiology, and how to use this understanding to inform the approach and the choice of practices used when providing therapeutic yoga for Veterans with PTSD. $275 



*15 CEUs available for yoga teachers registered with Yoga Alliance

Trauma sensitive yoga training programs have mostly been limited to the east coast. Except for one training by Yoga Warriors in Los Angeles, the west coast yoga community has been slow to hop on the bandwagon of caring for its veterans. I figure there are two reasons for this.

First, we have an abnormally high number of yogalebrities in California that leads to an impression of having a yoga lifestyle rather than helping under-served groups in a hands-on way. They are more likely to rail against McDonalds than be concerned that the veteran down the street can’t sleep because of flashbacks. Second, the tendency to mix in politics and ideological leanings with the yoga. That just sucks. I mean, really. We are WarRetreat, so we can point out areas of major suckage.

But really, with all the yoga teachers, therapists and shrinks that grow like barnacles on rocks — can’t Los Angeles, San Fransisco or Seattle develop a trauma sensitive yoga training model?  Is the yoga community in California not aware that their state has the highest number of veterans in the nation?  Whatever program is developed, there’s a catch: it should have an outreach component on how to get something started for veterans and their families. The yoga doers need tools on how to approach veteran organizations, and really –it’s not that hard.  Other area of raw suckage: and it’s happened more than once -not only to me and Jillian, but also to Dave. I get an email from some group offering training, or a publication who wants to “write an article on trauma.” They “want to talk.” But then I never hear from them again. What is that? ADHD seva? If you want to work with veterans, you must follow through. Enough babble. More doing.

Okay. Rant over.