Vail Today: Yoga program provides Vail Valley veterans with calmness and community (video) |

Vail Today: Yoga program provides Vail Valley veterans with calmness and community (video)

Veterans Day is a time to honor our veterans, but how do veterans honor themselves? The weekly veteran’s yoga class held at Colorado Mountain College is a good start.

Through the support of Alpine Bank and the Holy Cross VFW, Post 10721, the free gathering is tailored to veterans and their spouses and is part of Comeback Yoga, a nonprofit founded in Denver that offers free yoga classes to help military personnel, their families and supporters develop resiliency in response to what they experienced during their service.

“This is not the ‘put you in a pretzel’ type of yoga. It’s about breathing, being quiet and being grateful,” said Pat Hammon, who was a nurse in the Army during the Vietnam War and is also the Veterans Service Officer for Eagle County.

“It is all about calming the brain, especially the part of the brain that holds on to the fight or flight response. For people who have PTSD, that fight or flight response stays with them, so if you calm the brain through yoga it helps to move that stuff to the logical part of the brain,” Hammon said.

Terry Copeland, head yoga instructor for veterans yoga program, has been teaching the class since it began a year and a half ago and can see a difference in the participants.

“They now understand that yoga is all day, every day. If everything they do in life is done with a yoga sensibility, we’ve accomplished something. Improving their lives affects everyone else they connect with, it’s great,” Copeland said.

A big part of this weekly class is the socializing afterward. Coffee and doughnuts are served and the conversation continues for another hour after class.

“The mingle time gives us an opportunity to make friendships and build that trust, which is important. Each individual person feels safe in here, so they feel good sharing more,” Copeland said.

Terry Mahoney, who served in the Army in South Korea and is a finish carpenter by trade, comes to the class for the people.

“That’s the biggest thing, the camaraderie,” Mahoney said. “When someone is missing from class you feel it, we all give back to each other.”

To learn more, contact Pat Hammon at 970-328-9674.

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