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VFW Magazine March 2017 : Page 15

PHOTO BY Marla r. KeOwn PHOTOgraPHY VFW Post 1 in Denver has offered yoga since 2014. Classes offer a blend of mindfulness and physical activity and are open to anyone, regardless of their veteran status. Former Marines teach the classes, and the idea to offer the programming began with Jarell Jones, a Marine veteran himself. Since its inception, the program has grown and attracts people from all ages and walks of life. O n a Tuesday evening with threatening snowy sidewalks and icy roads, more than 20 peo-ple filter into the brightly lit front room of Post 1 in Denver. Yoga mats litter the floor, though instructors encourage the students to use their own if they’d prefer. Twice per week, students gather at Post 1 for a free yoga class. They introduce themselves, announce their military service and how they feel. The classes are taught by former Marines, which in itself makes the classes unusual — fitting for an unusual Post. “The language is colorful,” said John Harry, Post 1 commander and Iraq War veteran. “Sometimes my language is colorful, too.” Yoga at Post 1 — which claims it is “the oldest continuous Post with the youngest members” — is a good blend of mindfulness and physical activity. The program is open to anyone who wishes to attend. On one December night, two thirds of the participants were veterans, while the other third were friends or interested community members. Classes include meditation, breathing and moving mindfully through a series of stretches. The idea to offer yoga at the Post originated with Jarell Jones, a Marine veteran. He reached out to fellow Marine vet-eran Sarah Plummer Taylor, a Denver-based yoga instructor who had offered free yoga classes to veterans throughout the area. Taylor’s company, Semper Sarah, helps veterans over-come military-related trauma through mindfulness and yoga. The Post has offered yoga since 2014, but today, instructors through Denver-based yoga studio Comeback Yoga and Team Red, White and Blue also teach classes. Each instructor is cer-tified in trauma-informed yoga, and the classes are geared to any skill level. “Comeback Yoga’s support really catapulted our program forward with additional donations of props, help with sched-uling and later even paying some of the yoga teachers,” said Taylor, who deployed twice to Iraq with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU-1). The program has grown in the past two years, and it attracts people from all ages and walks of life. “We have veterans from all eras,” said Taylor, a member of MARCH 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 15 PHOTO BY Marla r. KeOwn PHOTOgraPHY

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