Veteran Sport Australia strengthens partnership with Frontline Yoga
Veteran Sport Australia announces a strengthened partnership with
Frontline Yoga – Australia’s first and only national yoga program designed specifically for the veteran community, First Responders and Emergency Services. The volunteer-run program delivers free, trauma-aware yoga services, suitable for all levels and abilities.
When Rachael Day was working as an instructor at Frontline, her students began sharing that they were sleeping properly for the first time in decades, feeling more themselves and unidentified aches and pains had gone. From that moment, she knew Frontline Yoga was for her.
Rachel is now the CEO of Frontline Yoga. As an RAAF spouse, she says she is incredibly thankful to be a part of an organisation making such a positive impact in the lives of frontline professionals.
Benefits of yoga
Frontline Yoga uses the many proven benefits of yoga to help participants with their health and wellbeing, and develop skills to manage chronic stress, depression, anxiety and PTSD.
After battling her own physical and mental health concerns, Rachael found yoga a vital part of her recovery and is using this experience to helps others.
“Yoga had made its way in and out of my life usually as a part of injury recovery. After the birth of my son, I suffered from post-natal depression. Yoga was part of my journey to trusting my body and finding inner acceptance,” said Rachael.
“Inspiration to teach yoga hit after a class one day left me feeling ‘at home in my body’ and it was a feeling that I wanted to share with people. Frontline Yoga provides me the opportunity to say thank you to those who protect our community in a meaningful way.”
Yoga in veteran recovery
Sharon Bown, RAAF veteran, began practicing yoga as part of her recovery after a helicopter crash during her service left her with lifelong injuries and PTSD.
“As a veteran, Frontline Yoga provides me with a safe, secure, and supportive environment in which I can explore and come to understand the physical and psychological challenges unique to me and to my life experience. Frontline Yoga provides me with community, strength, and resilience to live a full and engaged life, and to truly explore a life of wellbeing.”
Veteran Sport Australia CEO, Michael Hartung, is excited for the opportunities the partnership with Frontline Yoga will provide to support veterans and their families in the community.
“There is a natural fit between our organisations as we strive to support veterans with trauma aware sport and recreational opportunities to assist with recovery, rehabilitation and wellbeing, and Frontline Yoga does an exceptional job in providing a safe, informed and welcoming environment,” Hartung says.
“Every day we see the positive, proactive impact programs like this have on individual veterans, their families and their communities and we look forward to working with Frontline Yoga to encourage more veterans to get involved whether it’s participating or teaching.”
Paying it forward with yoga instructing
As Michael notes, instructing is a wonderful way for veterans, family members and the public to immerse themselves in this healing modality, often creating lasting personal change, finding a welcoming community and the end result being an opportunity to pay it forward.
Frontline yoga offers a pathway for passionate volunteer yoga instructors. Two such individuals, Terri and Rebecca, explain they started teaching because, like many yoga teachers, had their lives transformed by yoga and wanted to share the benefits.
Rebecca says, “My life had really fallen apart because of illness. My kids ended up having to live with their Dad because I couldn’t afford rent or look after them as I was unable to keep working. I had moved in with my mum and was living on Centerlink. One of my yoga students was married to a Vietnam veteran and had shared some of the challenges he experienced and the impact it had on both their lives. I told her that I wanted to study yoga therapy and in particular, trauma informed yoga for people with PTSD. When her husband died, to honor his memory, she paid for my yoga therapy fees. So part of my motivation for working with Frontline is to honor her faith in me and her trust in my ability to contribute to this area.”
And contribute she does. “I picked up teaching work within two days of completing my initial training. I found that the people who were drawn to my classes would never in a million years dream of setting foot in a yoga studio. They were people who thought they couldn’t do yoga, because they couldn’t contort their bodies into the shapes they saw on Instagram. They had injuries, limitations, imperfect bodies. I kept our practice very simple at a physical level, choosing movements that were reasonably easy for people to make, and keeping our focus on our immediate experience, the feeling of the breath, and the present moment.”
Gentle yet profound impact
“Many people reported fewer aches and pains, better energy, improved range of motion, less anxiety, less irritability, more compassion, a softening, an opening, more gratitude, and a whole bunch of other things that reinforced the power of the simple practices. Several have reported using some of the practices they learnt in class in their everyday life to help manage stress and improve sleep,” says Rebecca.
Improved sleep and daily moments of stillness are a recurring theme. Terri has similar feedback from students, stating, “It’s been interesting to watch attendees come to class initially and not be able to settle throughout the class, but then attending a few more times and seeing them start to relax and trust in learning to find quiet within. They also know the class is there if they can fit in their schedules and don’t feel pressure to come every week. Attendees have noticed they can use breathing to find calm in their day, and that they always sleep more soundly when they have come to a Frontline Yoga class.”
Frontline Yoga have also created this free Yoga class available on YouTube, a wonderful resource for those who may be isolated, restricted due to COVID or can’t get to a class.
VSA is excited to build on this relationship and make a positive impact for our veteran community. If you would like to know more about sporting and recreational opportunities near you, please get in touch.