Power of the Mind-Body Connection

IMG_2886My passion for yoga and meditation was born out of my own desire to heal and move forward in life.  Early in my career, I experienced military sexual trauma (more than once).  I was adept at dissociating from these experiences by immersing myself in work and and trying to be a bad-ass female officer in the predominately male infantry divisions in which I served.  I did not truly unpack the experiences I’d shoved into the deep dark corners of my rucksack until I left the military and gave up wearing body armor, literally and figuratively.

Yoga and meditation is something that will be a life-long practice for both my husband and me (pictured together).  During our 18+ years in the military community, our practice has helped us stay balanced in the face of constant change, flexible in the midst of things we can’t control, and strong through multiple combat tours that would sadly claim the lives of dear friends and ultimately shape our lives in profound ways.  We’ve truly come to know the limitless potential in our body, mind, and spirit through the healing power of yoga and meditation.

I first began sharing yoga while I was on active duty, teaching to soldiers in my unit.  At that time, yoga was quite unfamiliar to most people.  Almost two decades later, you’re hard pressed to find a city without a yoga studio or a person who’s not heard of it.  Esteemed universities and medical centers have conducted research on how yoga and meditation positively affect the brain and body.  We know it can be effective in terms of both prevention and treatment, cost far less than pharmaceuticals, and is often more accessible than other forms of therapy.  Military communities, medical facilities, and the Veterans Administration, are more open to integrating yoga and meditation into their ongoing programs than ever before.

200580_198692500163262_135856639780182_561460_4993004_nWarriors at Ease has played a huge role in facilitating this shift in consciousness.  One of our co-founders, Robin Carnes, was the instructor for the first Defense Department-funded study of yoga for PTSD.  From 2006-2012 Robin was the yoga and iRest® meditation instructor for a Defense Department acute PTSD treatment program at Walter Reed Medical Center.  Our other founder, Molly Birkholm worked at the Miami VA hospital for four and a half years teaching yoga and meditation to over 1,000 veterans suffering from PTSD and Substance Abuse Dependencies.  Molly led clinical research funded by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health that measured the effects of meditation on PTSD.  Out of this pioneering work, Warriors at Ease was born and has since been on the leading edge of integrative health in the military community, offering the most thorough advanced training programs for mind-body professional in the country.  Warriors at Ease has trained more than 600 certified yoga and meditation teachers serving over 100,000 veterans at more than 65 bases and VAs.

I am honored to be faculty member at Warriors at Ease and involved in teaching and mentoring mind-body professionals.  I am currently assisting in the development of a revolutionary curriculum designed to support survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), a project made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.  Life has indeed come full circle, and I am grateful to give back to the military community that has defined my life since I entered West Point in 1993.

A powerful aspect to our work lies in creating a bridge of mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation between our military and civilian communities.  You can help us strengthen that bridge and give us the financial momentum necessary to expand our work.  Please donate to our ongoing crowd-funding campaign by clicking here:  https://www.crowdrise.com/helpwarriorsuseyogam

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