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Yoga for Vets-Finding Wellness on the Yoga Mat

By In Classes, Wellness, Yoga On May 29, 2012


Although yoga was once a practice limited to men in the East, today, women typically fill yoga classes in the West. However, more and more men are joining yoga classes thanks to the positive results they are experiencing from this mind-body-spirit practice. Orange Park resident, Warren Lindsey, who is training to become a yoga teacher, is one of them. “Yoga provides synergy. With it, I know a certain harmony in life,” he says.
Harmony is exactly what many war veterans are finding because of Yoga for Vets, “a non-profit organization that exists to welcome home war veterans and help them cope with stress of combat through yoga instruction.” Yoga studios can team up with Yoga for Vets and offer four or more free classes to war veterans. Life’s Journey Yoga & Wellness Center in Orange Park is a participating studio, and veterans can select four free classes from any of the daily yoga classes offered at Life’s Journey.
According to YogaForVets.com, the founder of this program, Paul Zipes, a former Navy deep sea diver, “has seen, firsthand, the healing effects of yoga for many current and former troops. It reduces their PTSD symptoms, stress, and injuries, and helps them deal, during and after deployment, with mental and physical challenges.” It was a “simple dare” from his wife that introduced Zipes to yoga, and as the saying goes, “The rest is history.” Today, Zipes, is not only taking yoga, but he’s teaching it, too, as a means to increase the well-being of others.
“To sustain our well-being over the entire course of our life through using our body, breath, mind, and heart is very empowering,” explains Christopher Baxter, local master yoga teacher who has been practicing yoga for over 40 years. “To know how to increase our energy, decrease our stress, and refine our awareness is to know how to take care of ourselves from the inside out,” he explains.
According to Baxter, yoga simply “works,” and that’s the reason it “has sustained over such a long time. Because the practices and principles have been in use for more than 5,000 years,” he says “there is a profound depth and reliability” to this wholesome practice. “Yoga addresses the whole person, providing techniques and methods to enable anyone – irregardless of age, physical condition, or religious beliefs – to improve the quality of their life, their connection to their community, and their sense of self-responsibility.”
The many yoga classes, workshops, and yoga teacher training courses that Baxter teaches in and outside of the Jacksonville area certainly keep him connected to community. “I recall him exclaiming, ‘This is all so wonderful! I just want to share it with everyone,'” says Lindsey.
Numerous yoga students, male and female, have come to rely on Baxter’s yoga expertise blended with his down-to-earth, caring nature, and they keep returning to him for more and more of this teachings. Vicky Vance, RYT-500 and senior teacher liaison at Life’s Journey, is one of them. “He inspires students to be authentic, to grow spiritually, to practice healthy living, and to grow as yogis and giving, caring human beings. It is an honor to study with Christopher and to call him a friend,” she says.
Vance explains that “InnerSky Yoga,” Baxter’s yoga methodology and name of his website, relies on “bringing the core of the body into alignment, activating and maintaining a steady yogic breath, engaging the core by lifting from the pelvic floor, and moving into postures by moving from the pelvis and then adding distal movements. The experience of each posture is strong and balanced, allowing for both fluidity of movement in the hold and connection with inner stillness.”
According to InnerSkyYoga.com: “Like the calm eye of the hurricane, the still center of this precise, intuitive body mind methodology is an experience of open, spacious, heartfelt awareness resting in the midst of a dynamic, fluid field of physical, intelligent energy. Your body feels strong yet spacious, your mind calm, clear and alert, your energy powerful, peaceful and open hearted. You will leave the session with a smile on your face, happier than when you first rolled out your mat.”
And that’s exactly what participants of the Yoga for Vets program are able to find on their yoga mats, a happiness that might have gotten wounded or sucked up by war. Additionally, so many are finding a “friend” in yoga.
“The biggest benefit in my experience after 40 years of practice is that I have developed a friend for life,” says Baxter. “In all honesty, there has not been a day in my life since I began my deeper relationship with yoga that I haven’t found some way that the practice comes to me spontaneously – either on the mat or in daily life. There have been times when I have felt that almost everything around me had collapsed, and I wasn’t sure where my next steps lay, but somehow the presence of the practice deep in my core gave me the ground to recognize and actualize what needed to happen next. Whether I reached for it or it intuitively arose in me, it was there when I needed it – without fail.”
Veterans can visit www.lifesjourneywellness.com/calendar to select their four free classes. Or, for more information, contact info@lifesjourneywellness.com or 904-276-3116

 


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