What: Yoga for Vets
When: Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Office of Veterans Services, C4C, room S482
For more: veterans.colorado.edu/content/veterans-yoga-series-every-wed-
More than six years after returning from a tour in Iraq, Clay, a University of Colorado senior and Army veteran, still finds his heart racing when he hears sounds that remind him of the battlefield.
Clay, 33, who asked to be identified by only his first name, said military training taught him to control various situations at hand, but as soon as he was in combat — he realized he couldn’t control anything.
“You’re at the mercy of the environment, which can be hostile, unknown, uncertain,” he said. “You’re faced with challenges that can be hard to manage day in and day out. After doing that for several months, then coming back to society at-large, the game has changed again.”
After years of struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, Clay attended a Yoga for Vets class, offered by CU’s office of Veteran Services. The office began offering free weekly yoga classes in the fall to help student veterans deal with mental and physical challenges after serving in the military.
“I got the impression that yoga would help find a sense of calm in day-to-day activities,” Clay said. “The most enlightening thing I’ve discovered is that the only thing we can control in our lives is our breath.”
The class is offered in partnership with the Give Back Yoga Foundation — a nonprofit that offers yoga to those who can’t afford it — to student veterans and their families on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Center for Community, room S482.
“It really fits what we’re about in finding as many ways as possible to help students transition from the military and service environments they were in to college,” George Ballinger, director of CU’s Veteran Services, said.
Yoga for Vets Instructor Karyn Robinson was inspired by the impact of yoga on military personnel after her son, a Navy SEAL veteran, raved about a class he took in training.
“They’re in such an intense environment, some for years at a time, and that can really become how you are — on alert,” Robinson said. “Yoga, specifically, is one of best training when working with PTSD — in teaching vets how to be present, in the right here, right now.”
Jason Badon, a CU freshman and Army veteran, said he went to a yoga class seeking relief from his physical pain caused from multiple injuries.
“I have to be careful what I do because of the injuries,” Badon, 37, said. “In yoga, it helps me work muscle groups that I’m not working myself.”
Though he started going to the weekly session for physical relief, Badon said he found that yoga fits into his holistic approach on health that he’s adopted since his injuries.
Badon said some of the meditation and breathing techniques he learned in yoga have translated easily to other parts of his life, helping him reduce his pain and stress.
“I’m always in pain, so I’ve learned to turn on music when I’m walking on the track… meditating and dealing with the stresses of life,” Badon said.
“Since going off my pain meds, my entire approach has been holistic. I started eating better and taking care of myself.”
— Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.