HELENA – Yoga.
The age-old practice -to many- conjures up the image of quiet, peaceful meditation.
Kind of a far cry from the tough military life.
“Over the years when I was in the Marines in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, yoga, whats that?”, said military veteran Tim Sowa.
“I’ve passed it on to every vet I know,” added army veteran Jeremiah Rosenbaum. “Most of them are young guys and they’re just like, oh whatever dude, you know?”
But for these veterans at Fort Harrison in Helena, yoga turned out to be just what they needed
“You know it’s a positive, upbeat thing,” said army vet Alan Baglien. “And if you want to have something positive, have something upbeat, this is the place to do it.”
Through the MOVE! Program many veterans have been introduced to this form of therapy that is helping heal both physically and mentally.
“In yoga we treat the body as a whole and we treat the person as a whole,” said yoga instructor Mechelle Munroe. “So we’re really creating a connection in between the brain and the body.”
Through stretching and guided breathing, vets attending these class are seeing benefits they never thought they would.
“I don’t hurt as bad and there is a lot of times that I couldn’t sleep because the back would hurt,” continued Sowa. “And now with that (yoga) I can almost sleep four hours solid. Which is unheard of until I started yoga.”
And setting goals they thought were previously out of reach.
“My intent when I started in the class was to be able to get on the floor with my granddaughter,” said Baglien. “Because life was meant to be on the floor with your kid and your dogs. It actually accomplished that goal.”
But getting vets to give this type of treatment a try is still an uphill battle.
“It can take a lot to walk through the door and that’s really the hardest part,” added Munroe. “Being able to set that stigma or that perception of what we might think it is.”
And for the men and women in this room it’s changing their lives.
“And yoga brings me back to life and brings me back to the earth,” said an emotional Rosenbaum.
If you or a veteran you know wants to give yoga a try through the MOVE! program give 406-447-7375 a call or check out https://www.montana.va.gov/ .