For Army veteran William Gallion, a busy schedule makes finding time to treat back injuries and post traumatic stress disorder difficult. But thanks to a collaboration between Connected Warriors and Happy Body yoga studio, he and other veterans have been able to find relief through yoga.
The Happy Body Yoga for Veterans program is in collaboration with Connected Warriors, a nonprofit organization that teaches yoga to service members, veterans and their loved ones. Instructors are volunteers and offer free classes. The classes are part of Happy Body’s Outreach program. “It’s a great program; I really enjoy it,” says Happy Body instructor Melanie Trivette, who started the class in January.
The class attendance is small; though others come and go, six have stuck together through the months. But those six have also formed their own support system, says Trivette. “We’re like a family,” she says.
Joe Krebbs served in Vietnam, is a retired New York City firefighter and was in charge of crisis intervention teams after the events on 9/11. He started participating in the Yoga for Veterans class about six months ago. He originally began the class to focus on increasing flexibility and finding a new way to relax.
Yoga has become popular in recent years due to its variety of health benefits. Not only are participants getting their exercise, but Trivette works with the veterans and their families on meditation practices and relaxation. The combination, she says, relaxes both the body and the mind.
“When I came back from Vietnam in 1968, there was a lack of respect that often bordered on hostility when it came to welcoming us home. That attitude has gradually changed for the positive. For me the direct benefits of the class are equal to the belated ‘welcome home, thank you’ attitude that this activity represents,” says Krebbs.
Gallion and his wife, Joy, have participated in the class for over three months. “We were looking for something … maybe together and work through this and enhance our family life a little,” says William.
The class is designed for all levels, and Trivette makes it accessible for beginners. She originally worked with yoga and service members in Florida. After moving to North Carolina last year, she connected with Connected Warriors and Cindy Kirkland, who runs her own yoga class at the Charles George V.A. Medical Center. The two began working on the Happy Body class and quickly spread the word. “She’s dedicated and volunteers her time to teach,” says Joy. Whenever they hear about a yoga class in the area, they make sure to put the message out there. “It was out of a karma yoga standpoint,” Trivette says.
To increase her own class’s attendance, Trivette has begun holding workshops at the V.A. to try and draw in more participants. She says the biggest problem she faces with gaining new members is that people don’t always know what’s available and they don’t know that it’s free.
“We have really, really busy schedules and to be able to take time out at least once a week and do something together is very beneficial, both physically and mentally,” says William.
Yoga works the mind and body in a variety of ways. For starters, it promotes relaxation — something some veterans struggle with. Yoga also emphasizes mindfulness, or living in the moment according to Psychology Today. Increased flexibility, stronger muscles and focused breathing make up some of the physical benefits.
Classes are held every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. Mats and other necessary props are provided.
“She’s a great instructor, by the way,” William says of Trivette.
For more information, contact Melanie Trivette at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Happy Body at 277-5741.