Free Yoga for Veterans, Service Members and Their Families
Local Nonprofit, Operation Stand Down Nashville, Provides Healing Classes for Local Vets
“Connected Warriors” is a new program in the Nashville area and provides free yoga classes by volunteer registered yoga instructors to all veterans, service members and their families. Participants stretch, relax, clear their minds, find peace, build strength, align the spine and neck, practice breath control and gentle meditation for de-stressing along with others in the Military community.
Classes are held on Thursdays from 12:30–1:30pm starting on February 7, 2013, at Operation Stand Down Nashville Inc. at 1125 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN, 37212. There is a shuttle from the VA hospital, the outpatient clinic, and the Murfreesboro VA Hospital at no charge. Beginners and all levels welcome.
Eligible yoga students include Veterans who are currently serving in any branch of the military or have a family member who is in the service. In order to help aid in the healing to all who participate, the intention of Connected Warriors is to offer a safe space with nonjudgmental attitudes. As they practice, students begin to feel emotionally calmer and more in control of their minds and bodies. Volunteer Registered Yoga Teachers for Connected Warriors include Keith Allen, Lori Bradford Miles, Michelle Bixler, Ceci Eppinger and Linda Owens.
Keith Allen, a volunteer registered yoga teacher, explains, “Several hundred years ago, it was written that yoga is practiced to ‘still the patternings of the mind’ - the habitual thinking we have. That definition is as true today it was then.”
Lori Bradford Miles, another volunteer registered yoga teacher, explains further, “Yoga is our gift back to service members as a selfless service. It’s so we can do what we do, just as you did what you did - serve others. It’s our way of honoring you for honoring us and honoring our country. We believe that we are born whole, but due to various life experiences, we may forget this state of wholeness. Fortunately, studies have shown that the practice of yoga, including asanas (poses), pranayama (breathing) and meditation can help us regain our sense of connectedness to our body and to our sense of self.”
About Operation Stand Down Nashville
Operation Stand Down Nashville, Inc. (OSDN) is the primary nonprofit resource for veterans in Middle Tennessee providing life changing social services including transitional housing or referrals, employment readiness training and placement assistance, and coordination of the activities of other agencies in the delivery of such services. OSDN is the only VA-approved and supported Veteran Service Center in Tennessee. Clients include honorably discharged veterans with an emphasis on veterans who are homeless. The ultimate goal is to give veterans in need the tools to rejoin their community as productive, responsible citizens.
About Connected Warriors
The Connected Warriors program delivers free yoga classes to service members, veterans and their families across the country by soliciting the support of local yoga studios, community veteran centers and other donated spaces in communities where Connected Warriors connects service members, veterans and volunteers. They rely on local yoga teachers to support the free classes, which often include a number of volunteer assistants based on the age and mobility of the students. In 2007 Judy Weaver, a yoga teacher at Yoga South in Boca Raton, Florida, met a young man who walked into the studio looking to learn about yoga. He had just been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and was committed to fighting it to the end. He quickly learned asanas (postures) and, more importantly, pranayama (breath control) which allowed him to maintain control of his body and mind using his thoughts and breath, even as this insidious disease attacked his physical body. The benefits were visible and extended the length and quality of his life. Beau MacVane, deceased, served five tours in the Middle East as a U.S. Army Ranger and inspired Judy Weaver to share her knowledge and experience with other service members, veterans and their families. Her vision and hard work resulted in the creation and continued expansion of the Connected Warriors program which now touches the lives of many. More information about Connected Warriors is available at www.connectedwarriors.org.