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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Free Yoga Classes Offer Veterans Peace of Mind

Sep 02, 2014 10:49AM ● By Terri Brown, M.S., L.Ac.

Veterans’ lives can change drastically upon returning home from their tours of duty. Many suffer from substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, in desperate need of help and proper treatment. Sadly, according to a 2008 RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research study, only 53 percent of returning combat troops from Iraq and Afghanistan sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Many of those veterans reported theydidn’t seek help because of the stigma attached and its consequences.

American soldiers need to know there are outstretched arms willing to help them heal.When Prajjali was created, cofounders Elissa Lappostato and Terri Brown knew they had to help improve the lives of veterans in some way: They came up with a plan to fully fund classes for those who’ve served our country so thatthey and their families would not have to worry about cost.

Giving back to those who’ve served

Prajjali partnered with certified yoga instructors to help give back to veterans both physically and mentally, by providing them with free yoga classes.The Prajjali Pass enables yogis to visit participating studios at their convenience.At locations throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, the pass-holder can practice in more than one studio, more than one location, more than one style— without having to manage multiple memberships. Best of all, for every 10-class pass sold, Prajjali funds a yoga class for a veteran.These classes are taught bymind-body professionals who are trained to work in military communities and deliver the highest quality of healing.

The benefits of yoga for veterans

Studies have found that yoga can help soldiers cope with PTSD symptoms and proactively manage combat stress. A 2010 study by Harvard Medical School,funded by the U.S. Department ofDefense, found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD who participated in ten weeks of yoga classes showed marked improvement.  This practice included twice weekly meditation, breathing and 15 minutes of daily yoga activity.

Another study found that Vietnam and Iraq war veterans who completed eight weeks of meditation reported reduced rage, anxiety, and emotional reactivity and increased feelings of relaxation, peace, self-awareness, and self-efficacy. Additionally, all participants reported they would have attended ongoing classes.

National Yoga Month: Celebrating the difference yoga makes

Since September is National Yoga Month, it’s fitting to remember the therapeutic benefits yoga has to offernot only veterans but everyone. This ancient practice:

  1. Creates healthier pathways for thought and emotional processing through meditation
  2. Engages the parasympathetic nervous system
  3. Reduces anxiety and stress
  4. Enhances sleep quality
  5. Provides people with the ability to focus on their body instead of their thoughts

Yoga is an amazing tool. The beauty of this exercise is that it is available to anyone regardless of age, gender, physical condition, religious beliefs or political orientation. Prajjali was created with thisin mind asa way of uniting the yoga community for a common cause, encouraging collaboration among yoga teachers and studios.

At the heart of yoga is the idea that “We are all one” and that “The divine spark within me recognizes and honors that same light within you.”We can celebrate National Yoga Month by giving back to those in need, especially tothose who have served America, and care for ourselves and one another in the process.

For more information about Prajjali or veterans yoga, please visit Prajjali.com.Passes are available on the website and start at $99 for 5 classes; up to 100 classes can be purchased at a time.

Experiencing Traditional Chinese Medicine was love at first sight for licensed acupuncturist Terri Brown. As cofounder of Prajjali, Brown brings her desire to make the world a softer place to a more personal level: using acupuncture to relieve pain, one body at a time. She believes that if you can help just one person to be free of pain, that person will be kinder, more tolerant in stressful situations, and less likely to be antagonistic in public, creating a cycle of peace.  Brown is one of only a handful of New Jersey acupuncturists to practice “community acupuncture,” a grassroots effort to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible. That effort led her to provide free care for veterans by offering them the services they need to transition to a peaceful mind upon returning home.

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