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Veterans Heal with Yoga

As a law firm manager who works closely with veterans and their families – and in my part-time role as a yoga teacher – it is exciting to see the VA introducing yoga to our active duty military personnel and our veterans. This story from The New York Times describes what those of us who do yoga regularly have known for some time – yoga offers so much more than a “workout.” The focus on the breath and mindfulness, body awareness, and the gains to be found in flexibility and strength, offer something for everyone. Some VA medical centers now offer yoga classes as part of an overall wellness program, and some focus those classes on veterans with PTSD and/or traumatic brain injuries. VA has also sponsored a number of studies regarding yoga, including one at the San Diego VA Medical Center which found that a regular yoga practice improved pain intensity scores and decreased opioid use in veterans with chronic back pain. At the Atlanta VA Medical Center, female veterans who experienced military sexual trauma and PTSD participated in a regular yoga practice and the results showed a trend toward reducing symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and PTSD. A program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center found significant reduction in symptoms of depression in male veterans after just eight weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes. Our veterans are best served by a VA that continues to expand its services to include complementary and integrative health practices such as yoga.