Yoga classes, based on ancient practices combining meditation, breathing, and physical stretches, are catching on among an unlikely crowd: injured veterans and active duty military service members.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

Yoga Therapy for Injured Veterans and Active Duty Marines

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Yoga classes, based on ancient practices combining meditation, breathing, and physical stretches, are catching on among an unlikely crowd: injured veterans and active duty military service members.

In fact, the August 2011 feature in Fit Yoga magazine pictured two Naval aviators doing yoga poses in full combat gear, inside an aircraft carrier.

Military circles are finding that yoga improves flexibility, balance, muscle strength, and concentration - skills military service members depend on in active duty, and essentials for healing physical and emotional injuries.

YOGA THERAPY AT FORT CAMPBELL BASE

Injured military service members replacing gym training with regular yoga practice are finding yoga healing to both the body and mind - something they don't get from athletic training alone.

Brooke Neeley, physical therapist for wounded soldiers at Fort Campbell, prescribes yoga for military service members that feel emotionally as well as physically broken. She notices that yoga helps injured veterans deal with conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as a obstacles like inflexibility and back pain. The success rate of Fort Cambell's yoga-for-injured-soldiers program has been so high, that yoga may soon be offered at other military posts.

YOGA PREPARES MARINES AND NAVY SEALS FOR ACTIVE DUTY

Military service members don't have to be wounded to feel the benefits of practicing yoga. According to Marine Lt. Alan Zarracina in Pensacola, Florida, yoga helped him strengthen core muscles that Marine duty calls for. For example, improving posture and strengthening back muscles for long hours of flying and crouching.

For retired Adm. Tom Steffens, Navy SEAL for 34 years and director of the elite corps' training, practicing yoga helped him eliminate a post-surgical bicep injury. Steffens practices yoga regularly in his Virginia home, because it cures back pains and the residual physical stress from Navy SEAL service.

Steffens recommends yoga breathing techniques for active duty Navy SEALs to aid diving; yoga poses for learning physical control, as SEALs often have to stay in confined spaces for long periods. He recognizes that there are connections between yoga and SEAL basic training, such intense concentration, breathing, physical posture, and staying on course.



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