While it is important to remember those who have sacrificed themselves for our country in the two World Wars we must also remember that there are many Canadians in the modern day military who should be honoured. Whether active or retired there are men and women in every community in Canada that have witnessed the atrocities of war and may be suffering because of it.
Mental health in the military community is somewhat of a taboo. Thankfully over the past few years there has been an increased awareness of the severity of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in veterans through the media and other public avenues.
The traditional way to treat PTSD is through medication and counseling. However in recent years there have been a number of studies done that suggest that yoga is also a valuable tool for treating PTSD. A small study done at Harvard Medical School found that veterans diagnosed with PTSD showed improvement in their symptoms after practicing yoga, breathing and meditation both at home and in a class setting for 10 weeks. One of the study participants, William Haviland, told Boston’s NPR radio station that yoga took him outside of himself and had “a much more profound calming affect than drugs or drinking ever did.”
Tricya Morris is a yoga teacher and the manager of the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre in Kemptville. Spreading the word about the benefits of yoga for the military is somewhat of a passion for her because she has seen the negative effects of PTSD first hand. Her husband is retired from the Special Forces and has had numerous friends commit suicide because of PTSD.
“Yoga should be covered by the government for military,” Tricya believes ““How to deal with war is pounded into you [in the military]. You repeat skills over and over until it becomes human nature. Why aren’t we doing that with the safety and security of their health and well being?”
A common symptom of PTSD is a loss of connection between the mind and body. Yoga helps with this by bringing the person practicing into the present moment through movement, poses and breath work. It also cultivates an awareness in the physical body and its surroundings that is lost when sufferer goes into a dissociative state. “Yoga is not just exercise,” Tricya says. “It’s a life skill.”
Gayle Poapst is the owner of the Bodhi Tree and also a nurse on the PTSD floor at the Brockville Mental Health Centre. Gayle sees the benefits of yoga for people with PTSD everyday through the classes she teaches on her floor. “We do measurement for trauma before and after,” Gayle says. “It has benefited everyone to varying degrees.”
In an effort to entice military men and women to come try yoga The Bodhi Tree offers them a 25% discount off class packages all year round. In honour of Remembrance Day anyone with a military background can try their first class for free and take an additional 10% off class packages during the month of November. “This is a cause that runs deep into my soul,” Trycia says. “Yoga truly has benefits for everyone.”