The Downtown YMCA is pleased to announce the launch of Yoga for Warriors, a trauma-sensitive yoga practice designed for US Military Veterans. This vital program, which was spearheaded by YMCA members and staff is led by Gary Sullivan, YMCA Group Fitness and Yoga Instructor who is certified in trauma sensitive yoga techniques.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs reports that 11%-20% of veterans are afflicted with PTSD or PTSD like symptoms after returning from military service. With close to 25,000 veterans residing in the Central Virginia Region, this is something that should not be ignored. Research shows that programs like Yoga for Warriors at the Downtown YMCA can help individuals build physical, mental and emotional stamina to overcome issues caused by combat or non-combat trauma experiences. In October of 2017, the Y piloted the program which served eight local men from our area.

The new session will begin on January 10th, 2018 with a group of 10 male veterans. Participants will receive three months of one on one instruction before their integration into the group classes at the Y. Both Y members and non Y members can participate in the program upon completion of program-specific screenings by the local Veterans Affairs Administration, and a Yoga Therapy Assessment that is conducted by the YMCA.

Steve Bozeman, Vice President of the Lynchburg Area Veterans Council, which includes volunteers from numerous non-profits, works closely with veterans in the area to ensure that they are receiving information regarding such programs. "This is such a great program for veterans needing this level of recovery assistance" expressed Bozeman. "Peer to peer engagement, which is offered in this program, is key in the healing process for many of these men and women."

Gary Sullivan is a professionally trained yoga instructor who specializes in trauma-sensitive yoga techniques, "Helping these men that have sacrificed so much for our country isn't optional, it's necessary. I hope that we can serve at least 40 veterans each year, expressed Sullivan. "We are gearing up to launch an additional class in the spring that is designed for female veterans. After what we have witnessed in the fall with the pilot program, we know that we can make great strides in improving the lives of our veterans as we move forward."