Veterans Yoga Project

MARYVILLE, Mo. — In two weeks, the Veterans Yoga Project plans to hold an intensive weekend training class in Maryville offering lessons to yoga enthusiasts, teachers and mental health clinicians.

Since 2010, the project has trained more than 1,500 yoga teachers in the skills of Mindful Resilience Yoga for Trauma Recovery said Brianna Renner, director of programs for the organization and former Marine.

She explained that the training offers tools to inform teachers how best to help veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of the tools include breathing, meditation, mindful movement, guided rest and gratitude, which help participants to breathe easy, focus clearly, move freely and rest deeply.

The project was founded by Veteran’s Administration-trained clinical psychologist and yoga instructor Daniel J. Libby. He will be in Maryville to lead the training.

According to the organization’s website, the class is an evidence-informed, clinically-tested yoga program developed based on feedback from hundreds of veterans and active-duty service members receiving treatment at residential and outpatient treatment programs.

In 2018, the organization held classes in multiple settings recording data from veterans about their subjective pain and distress. According to the report from those 156 classes held throughout North Carolina, Washington and New York, the group saw a substantial impact to veterans through self assessments.

Using the Subjective Units of Distress Scale, pain and stress were assessed on a scale of zero to 10 in which zero is no pain or stress and 10 is extreme pain or stress. The report states veterans attending classes created 567 encounters for data gathering.

Veterans were asked both before and after each class about their pain level. With regard to pain, 70 percent of all encounters were associated with a reduction in pain. That average pain reduction for encounters was 36.3 percent. Forty-eight percent of participants experienced at least a 2-point improvement in pain.

With regard to stress, 568 encounters were used for data gathering and 85 percent of them were associated with a reduction in stress. The average stress reduction for all encounters was 45.3 percent.

Renner and her husband together served 14 years in the Marine Corps. She served five years and he served nine.

“The sense of community … the brotherhood, camaraderie was missing when we left (the Marines),” said Renner. “With yoga everyone spoke the same language. It was awesome … a real feeling of ‘I’m home.’”

The nationwide nonprofit organization also offers help to teachers after the weekend training, with 18 regions throughout the country for teachers to contact for more local assistance.

Maryville yoga instructor Raeann Hatfield said there is fair amount of interest in yoga in the area. Both floor and chair yoga classes are available at the Maryville Community Center.

“I can’t believe that this is coming here,” she said. “I think it’s a neat opportunity.”

She believes the class will help offer people new tools to help people recovering from stress-related mental health challenges or trauma-related psychological difficulties.

The classes are scheduled from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 at the multipurpose building at the youth camp at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.

Early registration has ended, but anyone interested may still register. Cost of the training is $425.

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