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Above: Teresa, right, a wounded warrior in the Navy, practices yoga at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
This week, the Live Be Yoga Tour visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and sat down with Teresa, a wounded warrior in the Navy, who is currently practicing yoga at the Center to alleviate the intense muscle cramps and insomnia she’s been experiencing as a side effect of chemotherapy (Walter Reed offers yoga and mindfulness classes to wounded warriors and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients in the Military Advanced Treatment Center as part of its Mind-Body Medicine Program).
When asked how yoga differs from the other forms of therapy she undergoes at the hospital, Teresa told us, “The difference with yoga is the relaxation. When I come to yoga I don’t bring my chemotherapy. If I do, then Daniel (her yoga teacher) helps to relax us so we don’t have to think about anything but yoga and breathing and meditating on the positive. I love his class.”
If you met Teresa on the street, you would never know the struggles that she’s facing — she is calm, collected, and joyful. When she talks about yoga, she beams, sharing her beautiful smile from ear to ear.
Teresa is just one of thousands of wounded warriors who are using yoga as a tool for therapy and healing. An incredible movement is happening on a national scale; yoga is becoming widely accepted and recognized for its healing power. The fact that one of the nation’s largest and most renowned military medical centers is implementing mind-body medicine, including relaxation responses, positive psychology, mindfulness, and yoga, is a huge step forward for yoga and for our nation’s health.
Practicing yoga with the wounded warriors at Walter Reed reminded us how versatile yoga is. Yoga can be done anywhere, anytime. It can be done in the community room at the hospital. Meditation can take place in the hospital bed. You don’t need a state-of-the-art studio or fancy athletic pants to practice yoga; all you need is a bit of dedicated time and an open mind. We can only hope that what’s happening at Walter Reed will inspire hospitals all over the nation begin to implement yoga programs that will transform and heal their patients.
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