In July 2001, my brother, fresh out of high school, decided to join the U.S. Army. Naturally this decision brought up mixed emotions in my family: pride, fear, uncertainty, etc. After the events of September 11, his journey took a furious path of boot camp and then Iraq. No easing into it, no getting his feet wet, but straight to a war zone at the age of 19. On Veteran's Day, I always say a silent prayer of gratitude for having my brother come home safe and sound. Many do not have the same fortune but deserve the acknowledgement nonetheless.
As civilians, we take for granted the day to day luxuries we have and can't imagine the complexities that are involved in being in a war zone. After returning, many of these soldiers suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and a host of other health issues. But the yoga community is doing their part to help. Programs such as Warriors at Ease, have been training yoga instructors to teach military members, families, and veterans since 2009. These customized yoga classes have helped countless military personnel deal with adjustment and trauma related issues through meditation and yoga.
"A recent study found that just seven days of meditation training helped veterans with PTSD experience reduced symptoms up to a year later. Another found that women with PTSD who participated in yoga classes were more likely to maintain progress achieved in treatment programs."- Source: Distractify.
Another fun way the yoga community is reaching out is through Yoga Joes, a toy campaign geared towards showing that everyone can benefit from yoga including military men/women. The project began as a Kickstarter by the developer of Brogamats, Dan Abramson (if you haven't seen the yoga bags this company makes, it's worth a visit to their website). Dan took the old school green G.I. Joe figurines and melted them down to mold them into yoga poses. How creative is that? His fundraising campaign was to raise enough money to create a metal mold so they could be made through plastic injection. In October, he surpassed his goal and is now offering Yoga Joes for purchase. Stocking stuffer, perhaps?
Take the time to thank a veteran today (and every day) for their selfless sacrifice. When you see a soldier in the street, acknowledge them, make eye contact, connect. We must show these fearless warriors that the highest light in us salutes the highest light in them. I want to publicly acknowledge my little brother, Johnny, for being the bravest, kindest, most passionate person I know. Thank you for your service.