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  • Writer's pictureNicole Longwell

Healing the wounds of war with yoga

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

War leaves more than physical scars. Military service men and women today bear invisible wounds—PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), anxiety, depression—all just as real and painful. Yoga for Warriors: Basic Training for Strength, Resilience, and Peace of Mind (on sale October 2014) by internationally recognized founder of Power Yoga, bestselling author, and founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, Beryl Bender Birch, gives you tools for finding your way as a warrior—whether deployed or in a civilian environment—and adapting to a peaceful life at home.

Yoga and meditation have scientific support as a means for relaxing the stress response, sharpening mental acuity, boosting immunity and recovery time, and promoting a general sense of health and psychological well-being. Beryl Bender Birch developed the methods described in Yoga for Warriors while working with civilians and first-responders in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. They include yoga postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and “yoga sleep,” meditation, and more.“

The awareness that the yoga practitioner works to cultivate is not all that different from the gripping concentration and focus required of a soldier doing maneuvers in a combat zone—a raw and penetrating step-by-step sensitivity to what energy is surrounding the moment and what is potentially incoming,” says Birch. “Learning to pay attention in a beneficial way is at the very core of yoga practice. It means simply to get your attention in present time, to work on keeping the mind steady, to be mindfully aware of what is going on moment to moment.”

Filled with practical, easy-to-apply teachings, and gentle guidance for both veterans and civilians, this prescriptive books explores how to:

  • Calm and quiet the mind, grounding your attention to present time

  • Navigate anxiety, indigestion, sleeplessness, irritableness, and panic attacks

  • Learn the physical practice of yoga postures (asanas), as well a variety of yogic breathing techniques (pranayama)

  • Develop a practice of yoga nidra, or “yoga sleep,” a technique that starts to turn your attention inward to a place of deeper focus and relaxation

  • Build strength, courage, and awareness, much like military training

In Birch’s words, "The main difference I see between the discipline of being in the armed forces and the discipline of yoga is that the final objective in military training is to prepare the warrior for battle with an external force or enemy. In yoga training, the preparation is also geared toward battle, but the enemies are within!"

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