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Military Veterans across the country connect through yoga

On National Yoga Day, thousands of veterans across the country are using the practice to connect with each other

ATLANTA — Veterans across the country came together to practice Yoga and feel more connected to their communities. 

Team Red White and Blue hosted the events in 200 cities to bring veterans out in to the communities where they live. Veteran Patrick Griffith explained why it's so important for him to connect with other veterans in Atlanta.

"When I'm there in that moment, I'm there in that moment. I'm moving from point A to point B, or here to there, or hitting a pose, and starting to get myself out of my own head space," he said.

Griffith was in the Army from 2010 through 2015. He was an Explosive  Ordnance Disposal technician and diffused IEDs. 

"When you're in the military, you have everything you need," he said. "You have relationships, you have structure, you have community."

"At this point in time, we are a volunteer military. People sign up because they want to serve our country. And once their time is over, it's hard to answer that question," he said. 

He initially felt a huge sense of freedom when he got out of the military, but after a while, that all changed. So his wife decided to challenge him, pushing him to do better.. 

 "I remember, specifically a day, a week day, and I'm on the couch slamming beers, and she came out and said, 'what are you doing?' She said, 'if you want to be married and have a happy marriage, you need to figure your stuff out.''

"And she said, 'by the way, you're getting fat, get yourself to the gym.' And I said, 'ok, fair!' She put me in my place pretty quickly," he said.

He jumped into action.

"Our mission statement is to connect Veterans to community through physical activity. But when you take all the brass tacks and science away, it's about building genuine relationships with the people where you're at," he said.

Those relationships and their experiences connect them.

"When I was still wearing a uniform, I never would have been caught dead doing yoga, and no one I know would have," said Team Red White and Blue Executive Director J. J. Pinter. " But in the last decade, it's gone from being taboo or made fun at to being very embraced with the veteran community."

"I think people do it, ultimately because it works," he said.

"To the general public, PTSD, or some people just call it PTS, think it's like this life sentence that can never be treated, and it's actually very treatable, and it can be treated and cured in some instances, but you have to put the work in. And yoga is a really important part of that process," he said.

Ashley Dunlop from Decatur Yoga taught the class.

"You can change your mind in as little as five deep breaths. So it's the most profound way to change your mental state," she said. 

"There are times when people walk in stressed out, or angry, or busy, and they walk out and they're calm," she said. 

"It's pretty astonishing, the things that really bothered you before don't seem to matter anymore. You lose the stresses of life," said Griffith.


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