I know, it sounds like a lyric to a song from the 1940's. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. So here I am singing:
This summer, as part of my role as military outreach coordinator for the war documentary RESTREPO, I contacted almost every military support organization I could find to fill the free screenings in key market areas. I was familiar with the group, Yoga For Vets
, started by Paul Zipes, a former Navy Diver. Through YFV, veterans can receive 4 free yoga classes from studios and teachers who have signed up. Paul has over 200 teachers who have signed up. One of these was Dave Emerson, who owns Black Lotus Yoga in Cambridge, and is also the director of the yoga program at the Trauma Center.
So I invited Dave and whomever else he wanted to bring to the Boston screening of RESTREPO. He and some colleagues went. They were blown away. I remember receiving a note from Dave shortly after seeing it. I think he had some reservations about whether or not seeing it would induce flashbacks, but overall, he was very supportive. And so a little dialog started between the two of us.
This summer while I was on the road with Tim Hetherington and MSG La Monta Caldwell, I received an invitation from Dave. He was inviting me to partake in a panel at the first teacher certification workshop (40 hours) for already-certified yoga teachers to learn new ways to help those who have survived traumatic events. It's called Trauma Sensitive Yoga Teacher Training Certification Workshop.
The yoga teachers who are attending are those who want to work with veterans with PTSD or other stress related issues. Some of the teachers are veterans themselves.
He wanted me to go because he knew I write about yoga on my Military blog The Kitchen Dispatch.
In addition, he's aware that I have an odd combination of skills and background: medical, military, yoga and writing. So the deal was, they'd comp the room, if I could get there.
Well, as you know, writers live pretty much hand-to-mouth. So I put the word out on my blog, and lo and behold, people read with a lot of interest. This past week, the donations reached an amount to purchase the roundtrip ticket to Albany NY. From there, I'll travel to Lenox MA to Kripalu, the world renown center for yoga. I'll be there from 31 October to 4 November. You can read the curriculum here.
I'll be covering the larger sessions, fastidiously taking notes. My internet access will be limited, but I'm going to do some live blogging when I can. I'll speak with Dave Emerson and the participants. I'm hoping to speak with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the leaders. Dr. van der Kolk was one of the physicians who got PTSD into the DSM-IV, thus enabling more veterans to get treated through mental health coverage.
On Wednesday, I'm going to talk about how yoga helped me get through my husband's deployment. I also think an integrated plan of treatment that includes physical activity, spiritual and creative expression, as well as traditional therapy and psychiatry is a good path to wellness.
I'm getting there on the good will and trust of people who have donated funds. I haven't met most of them. I take their trust seriously, and I will work my hardest to get the message of this work out there. It's important and it matters.