Guidelines Published for Teaching Yoga to Veterans

Guidelines Published for Teaching Yoga to Veterans

On U.S. Veterans Day, November 11, 2016, the Yoga Service Council (YSC) and Omega Institute for Holistic Studies announced the publication of more than 100 best practice guidelines for teaching yoga to veterans. Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans is a vital new resource written for a general audience, with particular interest to veterans and veteran family members, VA administrators and veterans organizations, and yoga teachers and yoga service providers dedicated to serving this population.

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“The effects of military trauma and post-traumatic stress are vast, and reintegration can be overwhelming for veterans and their families,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega. “Yoga holds tremendous potential for helping veterans heal and build resilience. At a time when resources are limited, we are honored to help bring best practices forward so that more veterans can experience the proven benefits.”

Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans is the second white book in the Yoga Service Best Practices series, which launched in 2016 with the publication of Best Practices for Yoga in Schools.

Medically retired veteran and YSC operations director Kathryn Thomas shares that after sustaining an injury while on deployment as a naval pilot “my physical therapist recommended yoga, and I’m so grateful that he did. While on my mat, my worries and fears about my physical disability stayed in the back of my mind. Instead, I focused on what I could still achieve. Based on my own experience, I believe that yoga can be a life-changing, and even life-saving resource for veterans.”

Yoga Service Council president Jennifer Cohen Harper explains, this work “is unique in that it shares the knowledge of over 30 experts in the field. Collectively, the team that co-created this book has expertise not only in yoga, but also in veterans affairs, military culture, integrative medicine, clinical psychology, trauma therapy, social work, and more.”

Best Practices for Yoga with Veterans synthesizes this wealth of knowledge on teaching yoga to veterans in ways that are responsive to the particularities of the military experience. Key topics include: 1) Culture and Communications, 2) Staffing and Training, 3) Working with Trauma, 4) Curriculum and Instruction, 5) Gender Considerations, 6) Relationship Building, 7) Working in the VA, 8) Teaching Incarcerated Veterans, and 9) Teaching Families of Veterans.

The partnership of the Yoga Service Council and Omega Institute began in 2009, when Omega offered space for a group of yoga teachers to come together and talk about ways to support those who worked with vulnerable and underserved populations. The YSC emerged from this initial gathering and offered the first annual Yoga Service Conference at Omega in 2012. As a result of the shared commitment to yoga and service, the YSC and Omega decided to formally partner in 2014 to bring yoga and mindfulness practices into the lives of more individuals and communities who have limited access to these vital teachings.

The intention of each of the Best Practices Guides in the series is to be a resource for those who wish to share yoga practices in a way that is safe, effective, and positioned in a broader social context, as well as being in touch with the relevant research and respectful of the many intersecting realities found in any social setting, including the need for skillful relationship building within institutions.

The first book in the series, Best Practices for Yoga in Schools, was the work of 27 of the nation’s leaders on yoga in schools and is also available on The third Yoga Service Best Practices Guide will address yoga in the criminal justice system and is expected to be published in 2018.

About Yoga Service Council (YSC)
The Yoga Service Council is a collaborative community that welcomes yoga and mindfulness teachers, therapists, social service providers, educators, health professionals, researchers, and all others who share our mission and vision. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness, sustainability, and impact of individuals and organizations working to make yoga and mindfulness practices equally accessible to all.

Yoga Service Council contact: Jennifer Cohen Harper, Jenn(at)YogaServiceCouncil(dot)org

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies
Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 250 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations around the world.

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