Warrior Testimonials

Warrior Testimonials

In the Words of Our Warriors…

“I choose to go to the mat for the next breath!”

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Edgar Bush

U.S. ARMY SPECIAL OPS STAFF SERGEANT

You want me to do what???

My name is Edgar Bush. I am almost 38 years of age, and like many of the thrill seeking, weight lifting, athletic, jock- types, yoga was a foreign concept to me. Up until a few years ago, just hearing the word yoga made my ears turn off with the efficiency of a light switch. I felt in my heart that it was in some way good for you, but never had an interest to try it. Over the course of my near 20-year military career I can’t really say that much has changed. I still work hard both physically and mentally, love to workout, and as far as sports go, I have a competitive fire that can’t be extinguished. So much even that one would say that it was one of my therapeutic stress relivers. The truth of the matter is, I’m getting older though. Along with this comes longer recovery time in the event of an injury, more prone to sore and achy muscles, and reduced mobility for no apparent reason. Recognizing this, I quickly realized that I was going to have to explore other options to preserve my youth.

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One day a few years ago a co-worker introduced me to a Connected Warriors Yoga instructor. Little did I know that would change my views on everything forever. The instructor was kind, fit, and possessed a list of accomplishments that would make even the most seasoned veteran blush with pride and amazement.

When asked to participate in an upcoming yoga session, my first thought was, “I’m not sure what I’m going to get out of a bunch of stretching but I’ll give it a shot”. I think I can sum up my first yoga experience by saying, “dripping sweat, muscle failure”. Challenging position after challenging position. All I could do is giggle to myself at times thinking, “you want me to do what?”. The strange thing about it all is that I liked it and knew that I would be back for more. I had a sense of peace and tranquility that echoed into other avenues of my life. Currently I try to connect with my Connected Warriors Yoga family on the mat whenever I’m able. I don’t always have a lot of extra time in my schedule, but making time for yoga is one of the more rewarding things that I do. Channeling out negative energy, stretching muscles and regaining lost flexibility, toning your core and strengthening secondary muscle groups, or simply sorting your thoughts of the day… I mean why wouldn’t you do yoga?

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Michael, MSG

U.S. ARMY VETERAN WITH 17 YEARS IN SERVICE

Three years ago a retired Army Command Sergeant Major invited me to a Connected Warriors yoga class at Fort Campbell. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about going to an unfamiliar activity that I perceived as new age stretching for women. Walking in the room, I was surprised to find such an eclectic group of participants from all different age groups, genders, body types, and fitness levels. Many had some type of knee, shoulder, or back injury – battle wounds from a dedicated life of service. Much to my surprise, the class was an intense workout that challenged my strength, balance, and flexibility. I found myself returning each week to learn new postures and for the challenge of pushing myself to the edge. During that year, I noticed physical changes such as my knee no longer swelling after long runs and ruck marches, increased inner core strength, and an overall improvement in my level of fitness.

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After that year, I changed jobs and could no longer attend the class at Fort Campbell but was fortunate to find the Yoga Mat studio in Clarksville that offered Connected Warriors classes. I started bringing my six year old daughter to class, and she instantly fell in love with her yoga practice. She even started conducting her own classes at home where she would teach her younger brother. Throughout the year that we practiced together, I found that the classes strengthened our father-daughter relationship. I also started noticing mental changes. I felt more calm throughout the day, was able to fall asleep faster at night, and those little annoying things that would set me off were no longer that important.

This past year everything changed. My teacher and mentor, Kathy, invited me to participate in the Elevated Warrior program and attend the 200-hour Connected Warrior Teacher Training. Having seen and experienced all the benefits of Connected Warriors yoga, I knew I had to share those benefits with my fellow Servicemembers, our Veterans, and Their Families. I’ve had the opportunity to teach injured Soldiers, Family members who deal with the stress of frequent deployments, and seasoned Veterans who continue to serve our nation. It’s incredibly rewarding to see their practice grow as they realize the positive effects of yoga on their mind and body. Looking back at that first class three years ago, I can’t believe how much my life has changed and how many others have been able to share that same experience thanks to Connected Warriors.

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Nikki Prodromos

SERGEANT FIRST CLASS

My name is Nikki Prodromos and I found Connected Warriors Yoga because drinking to cope with my three combat tours landed me in Veterans’ Treatment Court after having a few too many and getting behind the wheel. I have 21 enlisted years in the Army, serving active duty from ’95-’99 and joining the Reserves after September 11th. After each combat tour, I came home a little more anxious, a little more depressed, and a lot more withdrawn. At my lowest point, I couldn’t leave my apartment to check my mail and would ‘rally’ two days a month to attend battle assemblies and honor my reserve commitment but, I would pick up a 12 pack on the way home.

Veterans’ Treatment Court required me to write a five-year plan in which I included attending yoga, for several reasons. First, the plan required a physical exercise element and as a 70% disabled veteran, this was one of my few viable options. Second, I tried yoga a few years ago and loved how I felt after my practice. Third, my Veterans’ Treatment Court mentor handed me a CW yoga flier and I found out it was free…which was about all my budget could afford last year. Finally, I’m two semesters shy of my master’s degree in Performance/Sport Psychology and know that the healing power of yoga has been proven time and time again. Boy, did I need some healing!

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I have been attending yoga about three times a week for more than a year now and what a difference my practice has made in my life! Sure, gaining physical strength through my practice has been awesome but, learning how to quiet the ‘monkey-mind’, as one of my instructors calls it, is the real gift that yoga has given me. In turn, I have become a better grandmother, mother, daughter, and girlfriend. My family has told me they see a change because…

For several years, my smile was misplaced. The positive attitude that the Connected Warriors Yoga Instructors bring to the mat is infectious, before I knew it, my smile had returned and I was celebrating my first year sober. I challenge all Servicemembers to come to the mat with an open mind and see what Connected Warriors Yoga can do. Thanks for taking the time to let me share my story. Namaste.

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Michele Owen

MILITARY POLICE SERGEANT FIRST CLASS AND POLICE OFFICER

My Yoga Journey

My Name is Michele Owen and I am a novice Yogi. I first tried yoga while on deployment after being challenged by a friend. At the time I was a young 30 years old and in prime shape. Yoga was for elderly people who couldn’t do “real” sports and lift weights.

The yoga instructor appeared to me to be 50ish and rail thin, I was not impressed. Then we began our journey. I was covered in a sweaty sheen; my muscles trembling only 15 minutes in, trying to accomplish a modified Tree Pose. No way, at that point, did I have the discipline or understanding that sheer will power was not going to accomplish these funny named positions. But, I was hooked and had a new respect for that thin, quiet yogini. I learned stillness at that time, hearing yourself and feeling “all” of your body.

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Fast forward “a few” years, my children now grown with children of their own, me another deployment down, another career started and age pestering my joints and muscles. A debilitating injury sent me to my physician and then a specialist. Their plan was surgery and prescription medication. I was not ready to throw in the towel yet on my body’s ability to heal itself. I took another route with my physician’s approval and warning that I would be back. I found a chiropractor that would treat me and as soon as I had his blessing I started yoga anew.

At first I wasn’t able to even complete an entire class. What I found during that time was my center, that calm place that I had not been to in a very long time. As I continued and progressed I became more flexible and my stamina increased. I found movement at this time, body in concert.

So many people think when you say Spiritual you are referring to Religion. It’s not the same thing to me. Not to get into the whole “mumbo jumbo” cliché, when you truly get in to yoga you come to understand so much more about yourself and the power of your body all by itself. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

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Staci Rea

COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR AND HOME MAKER

My first yoga experience was as a body builder, my trainer “made me” practice poses so I would develop better balance, which would lead to better poses during competition. Already naturally thin and athletic, I really did it so my trainer would be happy and stop nagging me. I did not realize, until I was much older, that really yoga was helping to ground me, because I had to take time out of a very busy two-job schedule, plus school, training and a social life, to just stop, rest, and focus. I fell out of yoga when I fell out of competitions and training.

Ten years later, while deployed, I challenged my friend to go to yoga, to relax, and see if I could relearn some poses. I could not figure out the names of the poses, most times, but one pose always brought a great challenge to my friend and me while trying to successfully move into or out of it—pigeon pose. Because of the difficulty of getting out of it, pigeon elegantly was high and posing pigeon became a great source of laughter. We renamed the pose “screaming pigeon” because that’s what we often did while trying to perfect the pose. I learned laughing at yourself was important, because without laughter, there was no love.

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My life shifted, I aged, and continued with different yoga practices, but only on occasion, usually to replace a workout, or when stress and anxiety were taking control. Another ten years, and another deployment, I found myself in an exceptionally hostile environment with the constant stress of my Command counterparts being more hostile toward me than the enemy was. My same friend deployed at my side, we supported one another with physical training challenges and sanity checks, praying we would return home whole and sane. Although not too badly injured physically, I returned home fractured on the inside, not trusting, very angry, cynical, hateful, tormented, unbalanced, and fragile. In frustration I tried to “strike a pose” but could not find my ground. Although I had led a Catholic fellowship in Afghanistan every week, I had a strong faith, but very little spirit. I often wanted everyone and everything to just go away and leave me a happy hermit, wallowing in my sadness. My spirit had been caged.

I was invited by my Yogi to her weekly classes. She explained that I needed to find my true center, build my belief in my own strength, not just physical strength, but my mental and more importantly, my emotional strength. She understood she could push me, physically and gently, building my spirit with each successful session. I found friendship, trust, and empowerment. I stopped hurting physically, began healing emotionally, I strived to find my balance in life. I stopped hating, and started rebuilding. Yoga saved my life and set my spirit free.

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Kenneth Poindexter

OWNER OF MUGSY’S COFFEE COMPANY

I am a Connected Warrior.

I have recently retired after 36 years in the military: 10 years in the United States Marines, 26 years in the United States Army. The last 19 years have been with the Special Operations community as a helicopter pilot deploying with the most elite forces that the US military has executing missions in every environment that only the most elite can accomplish. I never titled myself as a warrior, but I was blessed to be around warriors of great bravery and commitment to defend and fight for the freedoms that we as Americans are so grateful for. The acts of heroism that I have witnessed go beyond the imagination where most people only see them on movie screens.

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So how does this fit with being a Connected Warrior? Yoga is hard; in fact I have been told it is a journey to finding your own position, your own breath, and your own peace. As a 54-year old married with 2 grandchildren I have to rethink what life is and what is my purpose in this life. Being around great men and women who gave it all and leaving the company of heroes has been difficult for me. I don’t have my brothers with me anymore. There are no missions to plan. There are no dark nights to fight in. And I miss it. But now I want to focus on how I can stay as healthy (physically, mentally, and spiritually) as I possibly can for this next phase of my life so I can honor my wife and children, to be in their lives and make great memories that will hopefully be passed down for generations to come.

Yoga physically is challenging. I have been sitting in a helicopter cockpit for over 3 decades and it has punished my body by not being able to have full range of motion. I have lumbar stenosis and yoga is helping to rehabilitate me so I can enjoy my life in the act of MOVING which as I get older, is a gift to do.

Yoga mentally is helping me use my thoughts to concentrate on listening to my body, helping me to command my body and helping to fuse both thought and movement together. Honestly, I have found yoga has a way to refresh or elevate your thoughts to a better place so I can live a fuller life.

Yoga spiritually has helped me hear my breath. Even now I write this and can’t explain how wonderful that is to me. Breath is life and it is wonderful. As a Christian yoga reminds me how God has given me the gift of life and how grateful I am to breathe, move and think.

I am a better person, fuller person with Connected Warriors. I love being around warriors who are still pursuing LIFE.

Thankful for my time on the mat. NAMASTE

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Angelo Carongcong

SERGEANT

I am a Sergeant and have been in the US Army for 6 years. I am full Filipino, born and raised in California. I am a huge workout enthusiast (mainly weight lifting). I always thought of Yoga as more of a workout for women (I know, small minded thinking). But as I got more into the idea of functional fitness, I realized that flexibility and the lengthening of muscles played a key role in both, the sports I play and weightlifting (which takes up a bulk of my time). So I tried my first yoga class with Kathy at CW Yoga. I learned really fast that it wasn’t, a joke. It was actually way harder than I thought it would be. Since then, I’ve been practicing yoga as much as possible and the results have been amazing. A lot of the little aches and pains that I used to have in my back and shoulders have been remedied through yoga. I look back and I’m so thankful that I was able to let curiosity get the best of me and walk into that first CW Yoga session.

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Dwight Kohler

STAFF SERGEANT, U.S. ARMY AVIATION

My name is Dwight Kohler. I have been a Yoga beginner for about 8 years now. I started doing Yoga as part of a weekly workout routine back in 2009. Prior to this routine, I had many misconceptions about Yoga. I have to say that after my first session, Yoga kicked my butt! I was working harder, sweating profusely, and I was sore in more locations than I knew existed in my body! I suddenly became aware of how much the muscle groups have to work together to keep my body working and how badly I had been neglecting them. I continued this routine for a while but like most exercise programs this one started to fall behind due to life and work. I did continue to do Yoga off and on for the next few years but with no real direction or focus. Connected Warriors has changed that for me.

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I started my military career later in my life than most. I joined the Army when I was 30 after being a truck driver for 11 years. When I joined, it was at a “now or never” moment in my life. I was older than others joining with me and I was married with a son. There was a lot of ground to make up for me. I had and still have many problems that my family is working through with me to include anger, depression, and infidelity to name a few. Yoga gives me a chance to relax and refocus and to help battle the daily routine that beats all of us down.

Connected Warriors allows people like me and other service members to have a chance to bring a new focus into our lives and help rebuild some things that have been lost or neglected. Every one of the “Yogis” in our group is at a different level but there is no pressure to advance quicker than what each of us as an individual is ready for. We are challenged during each and every session to improve on our abilities and our awareness. Yoga is an individual journey and allows each person to progress as their abilities allow. Connected Warriors has helped me to practice when I am able with no admonishment if I can’t make a class. My wife Geri and our boys, James and Joshua, have also been able to attend some of our classes. Due to recent changes in our schedules and the boys’ school work, the family hasn’t been able to make it but they try when they are able. The family is always welcomed and sometimes even gives all of us some comedic relief. Our youngest keeps us on our toes!!

Connected Warriors allows soldiers and families to take a much needed break for them in the middle of the chaos that surrounds them on a daily basis regardless of ability levels or location. I have practiced my yoga in a wide variety of locations and it always brings that little bit of peace I need, at the time I need it. Enjoy your journey!!

NAMASTE!!

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Margaret Schumacher

U.S. ARMY VETERAN

My name is Margaret Schumacher. I am a Trauma-conscious Yoga Teacher, an Ambassador for Connected Warriors, Inc., and a United States Army Veteran (19821992). I’m also a Trauma Survivor. Compound trauma to be specific. I have been in more than one traumatic accident and I have been the victim of two violent crimes. I was raped when I was 13 years old and my home was invaded by an armed intruder when I was 22.

In 1982, when I joined, there were not a lot of women in the U.S. Army at all. The men I served with did not always make it easy on me, but they always had my back, and I had theirs. The tough climb through the ranks was not going to stop me from achieving my goals. I was focused. I was at the top of my game, until I was involved in an accident.

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That accident seemed like almost nothing at the time. However, it ended my Military career. I was medically discharged and began the long battles of learning to cope with chronic pain, nightmares, years of physical therapy, and more than a few surgeries.

These combined traumas taught me to bury things, to be quiet, to be small. Then, I found yoga. Yoga does not allow me to shrink away from things. Yoga heals. For me, there is no denying the healing power of yoga. On the mat, I have to face my fears and I have to let them go. There is no choice but to surrender to the process…surrender to myself. Yoga is my path to positive changes in my mind, body, and spirit. Yoga saved my life. Yes, it is a cliche. That does not make it any less true. Through yoga I have better pain control and my PTS is much more manageable. I can not be small and quiet about YOGA!! Connected Warriors, Inc. allows me share this wonderful thing called yoga with my fellow veterans and their extended families in an environment that is sensitive to our community. A community of understanding. A community of increasing acceptance. All at no cost to our troops (past and present) or their extended families. How cool is that?

I’m a yoga teacher, I want you to come to yoga classes. Hopefully, my story will encourage at least one person to do just that. Will you come to my class?? Any class??

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Kristin Bohannon

U.S. ARMY VETERAN

I am an Army veteran, military dependent and civilian working in the Special Operations arena. Connected Warriors Yoga has helped my world become more peaceful. I started with the intent of increasing my range of motion and decreasing daily pain. My active duty time did not entail a lot of this hardcore combatant time that I see in my peers at Connected Warriors. I was a veterinary technician. I didn’t see combat and some joke that I wasn’t really in the Army. I enjoy that even though my ruptured disc didn’t occur in some fantastic show of heroism; no one cares about that here. They just care about everyone’s wellbeing. We all have our story and we don’t have to compare ourselves. This was reinforced recently as we sometimes share our daily woes before class so that our instructor can focus on our needs for the day. I had shared that my back had been hurting from a 10 hour car ride and one of our retired pilots empathized; relating to his experiences spending 10 hours in the seat of the cockpit. I immediately felt bad having voiced my pain, but he quickly reminded me that we each have our struggles and none of us are more important than another. It is this type of camraderie that helps us all further ourselves. What I have experienced in Connected Warriors Yoga is not only those outcomes I first desired, but much more. I am able to focus better at work and in my personal life. It is much easier to cope with stressful situations and difficult people. While practicing yoga, I am able to drive this world’s problems from my mind and focus on my own physical and mental health.

I am a Connected Warrior.

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Felicia Mason

MILITARY SPOUSE AND MOTHER

I am Felicia Mason and I am a military spouse and mother, daughter of a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, grand daughter of a retired Air Force Veteran, great granddaughter of a WWII Veteran and great niece of a Vietnam Veteran. I am a Yoga Teacher and seasoned practitioner. I first came to yoga as a teenager, it was something fun to do that was similar to gymnastics that I did growing up on base but also knowing that there was something a little more to this yoga that I was missing from my yoga books. Fast forward to my early twenties where I found a studio practice and finally realizing what it was that was missing. It changed my outlook on life and allowed me to work through life experiences and gave me piece of mind. Now in my early thirties with two kids and an Active Duty husband who is gone at least half a year every year I don’t know what I would do without my practice.

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Yoga has been my savior, my constant in all the chaos that is the military life. I now know and understand the frustrations that my parents went through as a military family. Understanding not only how it affected me growing up with my father constantly gone but how it affected my sister, mother and more importantly the Soldier, my dad. Most people don’t understand what it is like to be a military family unless you are one. The stress and anxiety of if and when your spouse is coming back or leaving, or when the next move is. The holidays and special times that gets missed because Dad/Mom is away doing great things and protecting our country. But also how are they going to be once the come back. Each deployment, training or school they come back a little or a lot different depending on what they experienced. And through each of these trips when they come back we all have to try to adjust again and get a feel for what happened to them–what they might be sensitive to that might be triggers to something they experienced. It’s through my life experience of being a military dependent and especially now with a family, that I see the need for yoga in these Servicemembers lives.

In 2012 I was introduced to the Connected Warriors, Inc. program with Kathy Rogers and I have been with them since. I currently teach Connected Warriors Yoga at the Warrior Transition Battalion, Intensive Outpatient Unit (PTSD) and at 5th Special Forces Group Combatives Gym on Fort Campbell. It is amazing to watch these Soldiers come in that have been worn down by the military lifestyle physically, mentally, and emotionally but they get on their mat and they start to breath and move and by the end they are so calm and peaceful. I think the most rewarding moment I had so far was with the Intensive Outpatient PTSD class about mid-way through, I had 3 of them in there fast asleep and snoring. These guys that can’t sleep because of the demons they are still fighting but they were actually able to sleep and I could provide them with that safe space. If I can at least provide that service to them through yoga, then I am doing my part to help create a better quality of life for our Servicemembers and their Families.

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Kathy

U.S. ARMY RETIRED, MAJ

I wanted to write something profound and real—except I can’t find the words. So far anything I put to paper has been hollow. I delete and start over. I teach Connected Warriors trauma-conscious yoga, I train the teachers; I coordinate classes in several regions and countries. I believe in yoga. But this year, in addition to those roles, I am the student—I am experiencing the effects of my own post-traumatic stress. I have had my share of struggles during life, but a year ago a major crap storm blew into my life—my world was rocked and rocked hard. Since then, I have experienced everything I teach about trauma—nightmares, flashbacks, triggers bringing up past traumas, sleeplessness, emotional detachment and more. It has affected me physically, mentally and certainly emotionally. I have little resiliency to further stress and sometimes I react poorly when I’m stressed.

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But I am surviving—I am surviving because I am a Connected Warrior—I recognize what I am experiencing and I can control my responses—most of the time. That is what yoga has taught me. This year I have learned to be a better yoga teacher because of my own journey. In my students I recognize triggers, depression, disassociation, anger, hyper-arousal especially after deployments, and detachment. I know I have to be careful with my words because I know how heavy words can be on a broken hurting heart—even the most innocent of words. I know some days just moving is a challenge so coming to yoga could be too much. I know what you see on the outside is very different than what is going on inside for most people. I have learned to be present and available for the students, leaving my own issues behind.

Teaching yoga to these Yoga Warriors has kept the flicker of light alive in me. For that time I am with them, teaching them and them teaching me, I feel alive, I feel joy. Most days the thought to cancel or get a substitute crosses my mind…but the desire to not let down those Warriors gets me to class. And then I am so thankful for them showing up. They think I am healing them when the reality right now, is they are healing me…one asana, one laugh, one breath, one class at a time. I have been teaching Connected Warriors, Inc. Yoga for five years. I am a US Army Veteran. I am the wife of a US Army retired Combat Veteran. I am the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, sister of two US Army Veterans. I am a Yoga Teacher. I am a Yoga Student.

Thoughts of gratitude.

Namaste

Nathan Lynch

TEAM SEMPER FI & TEAM AMERICA’S FUND

Truly inspiring words from one of our Yogi-warriors.

“I was seriously injured in 2004, on my 4th deployment, when my AAV ran underneath a high voltage line outside Fallujah. The wire almost struck my face, out of reflex, I blocked my face with my hand. My hand came in contact with the high voltage line and due to the current, closed around it.

I was stuck on the wire for almost 3 minutes, my crew saved my life and I spent 15 months in Brooke Army Medical Center’s Burn Ward. The prognosis was grim, 3rd degree burns, permanent memory loss, back spasms, photophobia, and fused joints in my hand, and I was told I would be unable to walk again.

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After 26 surgeries, skin grafts, and months of physical therapy, I forced myself to walk, relearn everything, and regained my hope in staying in the US Marine Corps. I became part of the Patient Assistance Team at BAMC. I visited other service members in the hospitals and assisted their families through the process I was so familiar with.

I saw the need to give the service members the ability to get out of the clinical setting, even if it was just to go outside and see the American Flag dancing in the breeze.

Upon my return 4th Recon Battalion to 3rd AABN in Camp Pendleton, my long term symptoms caused by my multiple blast injuries, migraines, nerve pain, and back problems began to manifest. I taught the Combat Crew Chief Course for the Battalion while I healed and regained my strength.

I redeployed to Iraq from 2007-2008, upon my return I sought additional medical support and was transferred to WWBN-W, I underwent a spinal stimulator surgery to electronically block the nerve pain (rather than continue taking the pain medications).

For 6 months I could do very little, as the leads to the spinal stimulator were inside my spinal cavity. Once the scar tissue has set and I was medically cleared to exercise, I began the arduous journey of recovery.

USMC Wounded Warrior Battalion West started a new program called WARP (Warrior Athletic Reconditioning Program) and offered to let me lead the program. I met with Semper Fi Fund and Team Semper Fi & Team America’s Fund staff members, who assisted in getting the required funding and equipment. With the guidance of WWBN W and WWR staff, I supported the beginning of the Warrior Games, by sending the equipment our Marine Team needed.

In 2011 and 2012 I went to the Warrior Games as a staff member and an athlete. There are no words for the journey from the battle field to standing on the podium, in a program I helped build. My journey has been on of perseverance, not one without failures, but one I am proud to have taken.

Yoga has been instrumental in giving me more flexibility, strengthening my joints, and increasing my overall physical, mental, and spiritual stability.

I will always strive to lead by example and give back as much as you have all given to/for me.”

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Frank Rodas

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER

Chief Warrant Officer Frank Rodas, has been serving in the United States Navy since September 1992. Frank began practicing yoga almost 10 years ago at the invitation of his wife, Karla, who has since become a yoga and meditation teacher. Through yoga and meditation, they’ve received lifelong tools that have helped them through challenging times as a military family. Together, they strive to be ambassadors of a fully integrated yoga life, balanced and connected, on and off the mat. They fully support Connected Warrior’s mission, serving those who have served, providing free yoga and resources to the military and their families.

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MSgt “Lee” Beckler

USMC, RET. (20 YEARS), OWNER SAGE YOGA STUDIOS

“I’m a damn Marine and haven’t cried in a hundred years.”
Have you ever noticed that when two people look at a piece of art that they usually focus on something different? Abstract art is a great example, you probably see a man in uniform sitting on a yoga mat in an art studio with a dusty floor. Well, I am that man. Let me tell you what I see.
I see a child that was beaten by his alcoholic father. “I probably deserved it.” [ scrape away some clay ]
He beat my mother in front of me and my brothers. “She DIDN’T deserve it.” [ scrape away ]
Finally, after all these years she is leaving him. [ more dust on the floor ]
Why am I getting tossed back and forth??? [ dust ]
My best friend killed himself. We’re just kids!
[ scrape, press, dust ]
I have to move out on my own, get a job, pay my bills and finish high school on my own. [ more dust ]
I am trying hard to make dad proud but nothing is working. I’ll try harder. [ scrape ]
I have to get away from here but how? I’ll join the military, that’ll make him proud. No. [ squeeze ]
Going to war. I want to go. I need to go. [ press ]
My best friend was burned so badly that I didn’t recognize him when he asked for help. [ take more off ]
Back from war. He’ll be proud. No. [ dust ]
He died. Damn it!! Why?? Just once!! Why didn’t you say those words??? PROUD. [ f!@k ]
Regroup. My family. My career. Focus. [ dust ]
Failed marriage. Kids won’t speak to me. I’m alone. [ mud, dust, scrape ]
Career. New love. New life. Hope. [ dust ]
Another war, deployments, will she put up with it?? Will she put up with me?? [ scrape away ]
Dave .. my friend, my mentor, my Marine brother. Why?? Why did you do it?????? [ hell, f!@k, dust ]
She did it. She stayed with me. How?? [ dust ]
She shared her breath, her life, her yoga. I can sleep!!!! I can breathe. I can rest. [ dust ]
This is what I see coming from the clay.
Namaste

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Siena and LCPL Henderson J. Nugent III

USMC OCT. 17, 1990

SOMEWHERE NEAR KUWAIT

Through Connected Warriors, Henderson has embraced the practice of yoga to help heal from post traumatic stress after serving in the Middle East. Siena often wakes him up from nightmares by placing her head on his chest. In Henderson’s own words, “Every soldier deserves a service dog when they return.”

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Mark B. Baker

COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR, U.S. ARMY

I am from Arkansas. I am a husband and father. I joined the Army in 1996 as a helicopter repairer. I have been on numerous combat deployments. I am a leader and I lead by example. I started Connected Warriors Yoga to enhance my fitness performance and to deal with some nagging aches and pains. Through my own practice, I recognized the value a consistent yoga program would bring to my Soldiers physical and mental well-being. I plan on incorporating Connected Warriors Yoga into my current aviation unit’s physical fitness program.

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