More people are practicing yoga than ever before. It’s known to reduce depression, weight and blood pressure; promote sleep; soothe stress; and increase memory and focus.
There’s been a huge increase in veterans and seniors doing it, with 39 percent of yoga participants age 50-plus.
And now veterans are using it for mental and physical rehabilitation.
“You could start with a gentle class called ‘restorative yoga,’ where it moves slowly, you have lots of props. I often hear people tell me, ‘I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.’ And my answer to that is, ‘That’s the point of doing yoga. You’ll become more flexible, and you will learn to do it in small stages. And it’s not a competition.’
Jeff Sargent spent two decades in the U.S. Army, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A friend mentioned doing yoga, but Sargent was skeptical. But after taking a class, it all changed. “It’s hard to get people to understand how effective it can be until they’ve tried it. It’s kind-of one of those things where you have to experience it. It’s not just one you can read about,” Sargent said.
The retired Army Major veteran is not only treating his PTSD with yoga, but is also an instructor sharing its benefits with fellow service-members.
“I plan to work as much as I can with veterans because it’s a way that I can still get back to that community who sacrifices so much for all of us,” Sargent said.
Sargent says yoga’s physical, mental and spiritual benefits are endless. He’s been able to push away past memories and focus on the present. He says yoga saved his life and he hopes it can help others like him.
Theresa Jones is a soldier suffering from PTSD who practices yoga.
“It’s kept me focused, it’s kept me centered. It has allowed me to do breathing techniques on my own whenever I’m anxious or frustrated,” Jones said. “It has just given me a sense of peace in my life.”
Sargent graduates with a master’s degree in yoga therapy this July.