Michael R.

After I was diagnosed with PTSD, I found myself on the mat. I will never forget my first Kripalu Yoga class.

Healing the Scars of War with the Power of Yoga

As I reflect on my life's journey, I realize that the thing that has helped me most in overcoming depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been the practice of yoga and meditation. I joined the US Armed Forces in 1976 and was honorably discharged four years later. While overseas, I encountered situations that left me with physical and emotional scars, causing deep emotional and psychological pain over the years.

After an “end of my rope” visit to a VA Hospital, where I was diagnosed with PTSD, I found myself on the yoga mat as part of my self-imposed long-term treatment. After taking a few classes, for the first time in many years, I felt I was doing something that helped me focus on what was going on inside, where the suffering, fear, and anger remained stagnant. Over time, yoga helped me to address each aspect of my fears, anxieties, and anger, as well as feelings of insecurity and passive-aggressive behaviors. I began to feel the joys in life once more.

I will never forget my first Kripalu Yoga class. The instructor spoke of exploring feelings and sensations, and moving the body in mindful ways. It was those classes that brought me to Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training in 2015, with the support of a Kripalu scholarship. As I dove deeply into the teaching methods, I experienced immediate benefits, like being in tune with my mind-body awareness and connection. I realized right away that I would be able to help others who were also experiencing the feelings of disconnection that I had inside. 

My experience at Kripalu was very positive, though sometimes intense and challenging. It allowed me to notice when and where I needed support, and how to find it, explore it, and incorporate it into my daily practice. That became one of the most important and positive lessons I learned while there. The relationships between the teachers and the students were full of joy, compassion, respect, patience, and understanding, which I continue to practice as the foundation of every student-teacher relationship.

I recently started a Kripalu Yoga class in Bloomfield, Connecticut, the very place where I took my first Kripalu Yoga class. I've also joined the teaching staff of Newington Yoga Center, where my students will include military veterans. I believe that they will find Kripalu Yoga particularly effective because of its mindful and gentle nature. Since completing teacher training, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the practice of yoga, and I’m excited and grateful to share this powerful healing practice with others. My passion is yoga, and my love is to teach it to students in all communities.

As a veteran with a PTSD diagnosis, I know what it’s like to carry trauma in the body. Yoga has become my greatest strength and teacher. Through the study of yoga, I've leaned to understand how awareness and practice guide the changes we seek. I plan to return to Kripalu as soon as possible for advanced training, as I work toward becoming a better student, teacher, and human being.

—Michael R., Kripalu Yoga teacher and Kripalu Scholarship recipient, Bloomfield, Connecticut

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