Yoga practitioners gathered at Mindful Turtle Yoga & Wellness to participate in Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans training to learn how to serve veterans living with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). We learned best practices for teaching this population (i.e. poses or asanas that support the parasympathetic nervous system—“cool down” postures and breathing exercises) and tricks of the trade when navigating through VA hospitals and facilities serving veterans (i.e. “the system”). Suzanne Manafort, founder of Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans and co-author alongside Robin Gilmartin of the printed toolkit designed for veterans entitled “Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans,” led the weekend workshop with presentation support from Sheila Magalhaes of Heartsong Yoga and Duilia Mora-Turner of Integrative World. The curriculum is beneficial to anyone interested in teaching yoga to those living with PTS. Tailored to serve veterans, the common denominator of PTS symptoms affords applicability of this training—in tandem with population-specific modifications—to domestic violence survivors, homeless youth and adults, incarcerated men and women, those in recovery for drug abuse and addiction, and other traumatized populations.
In the accompanying picture, that’s me in the middle of the bottom row, with Mindful Turtle’s founder Danielle Goldstein to my left, proudly wearing my custom-made malas for Mindful Turtle Yoga & Wellness’s Montauk location (along with my rockin’ Outlaw Yoga tee shirt). Chris Eder, colleague and founder of Mala for Vets, asked me a couple of weeks ago to contribute a blog describing how I use the malas he made for me. I immediately agreed though admittedly wasn’t sure at the time what I was going write. I’ve been carrying my wrist and neck malas around for several months, wearing them to teach yet not quite finding a “home” for them in my personal practice. Until this training, an impromptu passing of my malas around our circle of newly-qualified yoga for veterans teachers remarking on their beauty and craftsmanship.
“What stones did Chris use?” asked one participant, gently turning my malas in her hands. “Agate,” I said, “for grounding and security. And especially for protection.” And it was in this moment—accepting the weight and responsibility of the curriculum which we’d just spent three days absorbing—did I understand the perfection in how my malas have come to be blessed.