by Nancy Alder
A yoga teacher and practitioner for over 40 years, Beryl Bender Birch is no stranger to writing books. Her works, Power Yoga, Beyond Power Yoga and Boomer Yoga, are considered essential on many yogi bookshelves. Her latest book, Yoga for Warriors: Basic Training in Strength, Resilience and Peace of Mind is a guide to the therapeutic and healing practices of yoga for those in the military, home from combat, veterans or anyone suffering from trauma. It equals her past volumes in its thoroughness and ease of approach. Nearly anyone could pick up Yoga for Warriors and find something that resonates with them.
Driven by her own personal experiences with trauma and her work with families of the victims, first responders and others affected by the tragic events of 9/11, Beryl Bender Birch has crafted a yoga program specifically for trauma survivors. The book is filled with images of veterans, male and female, old and young, from all branches of the military and from many different tours of combat duty practicing yoga, though the message is clear: this book is for anyone who might need some assistance through yoga to bring quiet and peace of mind.
Bender Birch bases many of the asana practices in the book on Ashtanga vinyasa for the intelligent sequencing and strength of the practice. Yet, she crafts thoughtful and anatomically wise modifications so that the practice can be done by yogis of any size, age and ability. Yoga for Warriors offers tools including asana, pranayama, yoga nidra techniques, and mindfulness meditation, which Bender Birch carefully outlines with straightforward and easy to understand instructions so as to be available to all readers. It is a great choice for a beginner as all topics are thoroughly covered. Her descriptions of meditation and pranayama are some of the clearest and simplest available. Additionally, she’s made a great effort to speak to military personnel directly as well as collect reflections from veterans she has met to make this book seem right at home at a veterans yoga class or on a military base.
It is clear that Beryl Bender Birch has a deep understanding of the effects of trauma and PTSD on the mental, emotional and physical persona and the tools she provides in Yoga for Warriors are sure to help many readers find comfort on and off the yoga mat. Her passion for helping past and present members of the military is contagious through the pages, and her respect and reverence for their service is palpable. This book is a perfect resource for teachers hoping to work with these populations, yogis suffering from the effects of trauma and anyone who is, was or knows someone who is/was in the military. Yoga for Warriors is a powerful book and a valuable addition to any shelf. It is strong and resilient like the warriors for whom it was written.
Yoga for Warriors was released October 1. For every book purchased via The Give Back Yoga Foundation they will donate another to a veteran or active service member. Veterans and military personnel may also request a free copy.
Nancy Alder is a mom to two human and one furry elf. When not exploring the enchanted forest with them she teaches the Yoga of Ease in CT, writes about yoga and counts the days until the next snowfall. She can be found busting asanas at elementary school events, baseball games and her home away from home, www.flyingyogini.com.
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Nice thorough review, but considering the book’s very specific subtitle, “…A System for Veterans and Military Service Men and Women”, a review would carry much more force if written by someone with demonstrable experience teaching yoga to the military and those effected by trauma. (Perhaps the reviewer has such experience, but it’s not mentioned.) Otherwise, the review might conceivably come off as typical yoga industry puffery (at least to a cynic like me).
Hi Dwayne.. thanks for the comment. I have taught veterans and those in the military although you are correct it is not my area of expertise. Beryl Bender Birch, the author, however DOES have extensive expertise in this area. In fact some of her students and now colleagues have gone on to create yoga for veterans/trauma trainings for other teachers. My review focused more on the approachability of her writing and the accessibility to any kinds of readers. So perhaps it’s your idea of yoga industry puffery, but it was written from a place of honesty and experience not only teaching yoga, but also extensive reading of yoga tomes and writing yoga book reviews. Additionally I have interviewed Ms. Birch on the subject of both trauma and teaching those formerly and currently in the military so am quite familiar with her experience and expertise. I stand by my review and I suggest you take a look at her book and see what she has chosen to share before you judge that it is a fluffy book. Thx.
If you are interested in teaching wounded warriors we have a yoga teacher training system dedicated to teaching those who suffer from PTSD called YogaFit for Warriors. Click here: http://www.yogafit.com/trainings/trainings/?type=YogaFit+for+Warriors&state=&zip=&radius=&x=33&y=40 and bring yoga to those who need it the most.
Thanks so much for sharing about this training!