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About Yoga Warriors International™
Yoga Warriors International is the first and largest program in the nation for healing combat veterans through yoga. Unlike other yoga disciplines and treatment modalities, Yoga Warriors was designed specifically to help veterans suffering from PTS and developed from years of feedback from veterans diagnosed with PTS. Currently Yoga Warriors methodology is helping active duty military, veterans, first responders and their families, and many others who have experienced PTS or high stress. Yoga Warriors classes integrate concepts of traditional hatha yoga with modern knowledge of the mind/body connection.
Yoga Warriors is a research and teacher training program with a twofold mission. First, Yoga Warriors provides evidence based hatha yoga to prevent or alleviate symptoms of combat stress (COSR) or Post Traumatic Stress(PTS). Second, Yoga Warriors is committed to the comprehensive training of yoga instructors equipped to teach this methodology to veterans, military, first responders and others who have experience PTS or high stress. There are over 350 Yoga Warriors trained teachers around the world.
The Yoga Warriors program in Kirkuk, Iraq became part of a published research study, published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy: http://ajot.aotapress.net/content/66/1/59.full. The major results of the study show that the Yoga Warriors program was effective in reducing state and trait anxiety and that the participants showed significantly greater improvement in mental health and quality-of-life factors.
200 and 500 hour Yoga Teachers undergo a 16-hour training course taught by Dharma Richards, Director, Lucy Cimini, Founder of Yoga Warriors International or by certified Yoga Warriors trainers, certifying them to create their own Yoga Warriors programs. 16 CEUs are offered by the National Yoga Alliance for Yoga Teachers.
Mental health professionals and others are encouraged to take the training and will receive a “Certificate of Attendance”. Yoga Warriors Teacher Training is approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval #886630123-1975) for 16 Social Work continuing education contact hours.
Trainings are held around the United States and throughout Canada. Certified Yoga Warriors teachers are listed on the Yoga Warriors website http://www.yogawarriors.com/yoga-teachers.
Class are taught to active duty military, veterans, first responders and their families, and others who have experienced PTSD or high stress. Classes are held throughout the United States, Canada, and to deployed military.
Lucy Cimini, BA, Reiki 2, ERYT is the founding director of Yoga Warriors International™ and of Central Mass Yoga And Wellness. In 2016 the Yoga Warriors program was transferred to Dharma Richards, ERYT500 of Yoga Garden in Apex, North Carolina.
Date Founded: March 2005
Yoga instructors and Mental Health Professionals from 38 states, including Alaska, plus the District of Columbia, Canada, England, and Cambodia have undergone Yoga Warriors training. Deployed military have taught in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yoga teachers, Yoga Studios and Organizations in countries from around the world have inquired about the program.
Yoga Warriors Teacher Training topics covered include: starting a Yoga Warriors program, conducting a class for military, veterans and others with PTS, the science behind PTS, reducing triggers in class, what to do if a student experiences a flashback, understanding the combat experience, and practice designing and teaching a Yoga Warriors class.
A Yoga Warriors class may include: centering, pranayama (breathing), readings from yoga masters, asanas (postures), meditation, restorative postures, and savasana (final relaxation). Carefully selected pranayama exercises promote calming. Carefully chosen asanas balance the nervous system. Positive affirmations paired with asanas address the autonomic nervous system, increasing relaxation. Setting and word choice are carefully chosen to promote a sense of safety. Poses that can trigger bad memories are avoided.
Benefits of Yoga Warriors Classes:
- Lowers state and trait anxiety
- Improves anger management skills
- Increases self-calming ability
- Helps participants recognize and safely release emotions without judgment
- Brings participants back to the present by reconnecting mind to body
Why It Works:
Military, Veterans, First Responders and others who have experienced very intense periods of terror and trauma, may get stuck in a constant state of “flight or fight”. When they are away from the traumatic experience, that fight or flight response may not turn off, making the transition to “normal” life very difficult.
Yoga Warrior classes can help “unfreeze” bad memories or gently unlock rigidly held memories in ways that normal talk therapy might not. The feelings may be too complex for words or the person may find it difficult to talk about their feelings. The speech center of the brain often shuts down during trauma leaving the right brain to record the event in visual images or as other isolated sensory events – they may literally not have the words to speak of the trauma. Encouragement to “talk about it” can start a tailspin of flashbacks, nightmares, and overwhelming anxiety.
Yoga Warrior classes help reduce hyper-arousal and evoke the relaxation response which is the body’s antidote to the stress response, because it causes the release of neurotransmitters in the body, creating a soothing effect.
Yoga Warrior classes allow participants to safely release and express stored emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, sadness and grief so they can better understand, make peace with, and manage those feelings.
Through Yoga Warriors classes, the mind is allowed to safely associate the body with pleasant sensations, which is important for traumatized individuals who associate their bodies with unpleasant sensations due to war wounds, rape, etc.
Specific Yoga Warriors postures provide nurturing and comfort, which is important for anyone who has experienced PTS or high stress and who have isolated themselves from family members due to a bunker mentality, anger or addiction issues.
Dharma Richards, ERYT500
Yoga Warriors International™
c/o Yoga Garden
101 E. Chatham Street, Ste. OM, Apex, NC 27502