For nearly 10 years, Veterans Yoga Project’s mission has been to support recovery and resiliency among Veterans, families, and communities. Through its core values (G.I.V.E.S), this dynamic group of Veterans and civilians express their gratitude by sharing their experience with a sense of integrity with Veterans, and through the integration of empowering tools to cultivate emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being to serve all military members.
To achieve this mission, Veterans Yoga Project partners with VA facilities, Vet Centers, service organizations, and universities throughout the U.S. to provide Mindful Resilience classes. In these sessions, tools are offered to complement other forms of treatment for PTSD and mental/emotional challenges.
In 2019, Veterans Yoga Project partnered with over 40 Veteran and military treatment programs and 20 Vet Centers along with dozens of other student groups, community-based Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), and yoga studios.
Every day, Veterans Yoga Project offers over three hours of free, live practices on Facebook and Zoom. With the onset of COVID-19, Veterans Yoga Project swiftly shifted their in-session classes to an online platform. Classes include yoga, guided rest, and breath work. Veterans Yoga Project students were recently surveyed to determine the change in levels of physical pain and distress before and after classes. Data from 28 participants demonstrated significant reductions in both pain and distress as a result of their home yoga practice.
More than 26,000 visits from Veterans, active-duty, and their family members in approximately 4,500 classes took place last year throughout the U.S. The above photo was before COVID-19, in that time.
Veterans Yoga Project also offers in-person and online Mindful Resilience Trainings for yoga teachers and healthcare professionals. Instructors share self-regulation tools, including breath, meditation, mindful movement, guided rest, and gratitude practices to help participants breathe easy, focus clearly, move freely, rest soundly, and extend gratitude.
“Veterans Yoga Project exists to help our communities transform trauma into growth,” said Veterans Yoga Project Executive Director, Dr. Dan Libby. “Perhaps, this is more relevant and necessary than ever before. The practices of yoga and mindfulness that we share with thousands of Veterans and family members are tools which allow us all to serve, grow and connect, even in the midst of extraordinary life circumstances.
“A Veteran recently told me, ‘I needed this. This helped me greatly last night. Thank you,’” said Libby. “This is what Veterans Yoga Project is all about. By providing support to all Veterans – whether they are currently challenged by severe symptoms, or focused on increasing resilience and giving back to others – Veterans Yoga Project is doing their part to serve those who have served.”
“I want to thank you all for what you do. I’ve been doing some of your classes in my hotel room and telling the service members I meet about the Veterans Yoga Project online practice library. It was really great to get the chance to actually show them this resource and share in some practices with them! Thank you!” – National Guard social worker
Mindful Resilience and Passion Fatigue
Recently, Veterans Yoga Project launched the Mindful Resilience for Compassion Fatigue program. Intended for individuals and health care professionals, this evidence-informed online course addresses work-based trauma. Through its interactive webinars and various e-learning modules, the program supports those dealing with burnout, vicarious trauma, and compassion fatigue.
“This course provides tangible tools to help others recognize, prevent, and transform their compassion fatigue into compassion satisfaction,” Libby said. “In creating this program, our aim was to provide a framework for a better understanding of all the short- and long-term implications of vicarious trauma and the necessary tools to transform one’s personal and professional experience.”
Despite all the recent world events and tragedies, Veterans Yoga Project remains resolute in its aim to serve military Veterans,” Libby added. “Veterans Yoga Project cultivates mindful compassion and gratitude so that we can be the leader we need to be in our own life, in our own family, and in our own community.”
Capucine Hoybach works for the Veterans Yoga Project, which is a501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information visit: www.veteransyogaproject.org.