Yoga:  Bringing Peace to Veterans

Yoga: Bringing Peace to Veterans

Veterans Day is an annual tradition that marks the end of World War I.  It became a federal holiday in 1938 and is celebrated every year on November 11th.  Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day honors all military, living or deceased; who served during peace or war, as well as their families.

We may think of Veterans Day as another work holiday and an excuse to take advantage of all the sales.  There are some staggering statistics veterans face after they leave the military and reasons why this holiday is so important.

Some challenges include:

Depression/Lack of Identity. After serving their country many veterans feel a lack on connection to their purpose which can lead to depression.

Unemployment.  Veterans struggle finding work as they enter the military right out of Highschool and lack the education and/or training needed for many jobs.

Homelessness.  It’s estimated that 30% of the homeless are veterans.

PTSD.   An average of 12 out of every 100 veterans who served in the most recent wars, and 30 out of a 100 who served in Vietnam.

Suicide. While the number has decreased there are still an average of 20 veterans who took their own life in 2020.

More veterans are turning to yoga since   has shown improvements in symptoms of PTSD, sleep, and quality of life.  Yoga boasts many benefits including increased strength, flexibility and balance. In addition to the physical benefits yoga also helps to boost your mood, improve sleep and manage stress. According to many veterans are including yoga in their workout routine for therapeutic reasons.  The Department of Veterans Affairs has successfully used yoga to treat addiction and PTSD.

There are numerous organizations committed to bringing yoga to veterans.  Thanks to the incredible work of Robert Sturman, light has been shed and awareness is growing around this new population in the yoga community.  What started out as a yoga shoot for a woman who wanted to do some poses in her military uniform turned into some exciting projects celebrating veterans of all kinds. Robert admits he was starstruck with the uniforms after growing up in Los Angeles where it wasn’t a common sight.

We were fortunate enough for Robert to share some of his brilliance with us.  There are no words to describe his ability to capture beauty in all things, his eye for humanity and his ability to connect with others at a level that can be felt by all.

Staff Sergeant, Dan Nevins, U.S. Army Operation Iraqi Freedom II.  Veteran turned yoga teacher, Coronado, California.


Hillary Darby, U.S. Navy Commander.  Hillary took her first yoga class as a reluctant beginner, however quickly transitioned to regular hot yoga practice.  She immediately was drawn to the physical benefits including relief from her chronic neck and back pain from over 2,000 hours of flying.  Soon she noticed that yoga also provided a space for mindfulness, reflection and gratitude and became a teacher.  Hillary says, “As I continue to grow in my role as the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Officer, I am able to incorporate the skills and resources I am learning as a yoga teacher and advocation for .  I KNOW that I am better equipped to help Survivors heal from PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma and even more equipped to provide support and self-care to the professionals that support Survivors on a daily basis.


Alex Nguyen, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “Warrior II.”


Kaitlin Daddona, (pictured above left) First Lieutenant, Air Force.  “As I was learning about the ins and outs of the military; how to shoot a gun, how to march in line, how to obey commands, I was also learning, through yoga, the ins and outs of who I was as a person, how to breathe, how to find comfort in solitude, and how to honor my true self.”

Kristen Schoeffel, (pictured above right) Senior Airman.  “Without yoga and meditation, I’m honestly not sure how I would cope with all the stress of being a service member and a spouse of a Marine.  Yoga is what keeps me sane when my husband is deployed!  It also helps feel ‘at home’ in mind, body and spirit when I am far away from family and friends.”


Dwight Kohler, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Aviation. “I started doing yoga….back in 2009. I have to say that after my first session, yoga kicked my butt!  I was working hard, sweating profusely and sore in more locations than I knew I had in my body. I did yoga off and on for the next few years with no direction.   changed that for me.  Connected Warriors allows people like me and the 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.”


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Feature Photo credit:  Joe Longo