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Warriors at Peace

Combat veterans take refuge in yoga, discovering its ability to soothe and repair war-torn minds and spirits.

By Neal Pollack

An Army of Yoga Teachers

Yoga has had such a profound effect on vets returning to their civilian lives that many of them want to spread the word. Sue Lynch, a military lawyer, was once on the receiving end of a missile attack while serving in Saudi Arabia in 1990. When she returned home to Boston, she thought she had it together, but PTSD struck her hard. Depression and anxiety made her daily life almost unbearable, and therapy offered little relief. "A studio opened nearby—I started practicing and said, 'Oh my god, that's it!' " She became a yoga teacher, and now, through her organization, There and Back Again, she is training returning soldiers to teach as well.

Bradley, the Boston firefighter, is going through Lynch's training because he wants to bring classes to the rough streets of Charlestown. Patrocinio is taking regular trips from Miami to go through training sessions in Boston as well. "In many ways, it helps you reconnect," he says. "There's a lot of anger and numbness, emotions and feelings because of the situations you were put into in combat. Yoga teaches you how to live the moment, how to accept the past, and even let it go. When I first started doing yoga, I didn't realize these things. But it's been very helpful."

Harper Perennial will publish Neal Pollack's comic memoir, Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude, in August 2010.

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