Marine combat Veteran says yoga saved his life

When Nicholas Caris first tried yoga, he hated it. For his first yoga class he decided to go all in, a 90-minute Birkram session in a room heated to 95 degrees. He left exhausted and in pain with no intentions of trying it again.

Now, he’s a yoga instructor who teaches yoga to Veterans at VA facilities and in his community. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps combat Veteran said yoga saved his life and knows firsthand that Veterans can benefit greatly from yoga.

“I think that we all just want to calm down a bit… and yoga provides that,” he said.

Caris teaches yoga through the Exalted Warrior Foundation. The foundation facilitates an adaptive yoga instruction program that is designed for active duty Servicemembers and Veterans in their communities and at VA hospitals.

He says one thing that surprises Veterans when they first try yoga is how much of a workout it can be.“ All Veterans should come to a class, just try it one time,” he said.


Tim Hudak

  joined the VA in December 2013 and is on the Veterans Experience Office team. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations.


  1. Jerry Bailey    

    Yoga is great for everything-mind, body, and spirit. At times it’s one of my hardest physical endeavors (this from a guy who’s run 100 miles in one day). My fellow yogis range from stay at home moms, to Crossfit guys, motorcyclists, fellow veterans, and grandparents. I’ve arrived to yoga classes feeling tense, tired, mad, happy, and every other emotion under the sun, but I have always left feeling content. My only recommendation is to find a yoga class that is more than just physical movements. I think mindfulness is the most important aspect of yoga. This doesn’t mean discussing a particular religion (I’m an atheist), but rather, making sure that your instructor reminds, and helps you understand that acknowledging negative thoughts is okay, but don’t let them control you.

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