Mindful Resilience is a yoga-based program that teaches five tools for combating the effects of stress: 1) breathing practices; 2) meditation; 3) mindful movement; 4) guided restuni; and 5) gratitude. The program was taught by Anna von Gohren, a veteran dependent with her 200-hour yoga teaching certification in Power Vinyasa, and a Veterans Yoga Project Level 2 Instructor. Many members of Anna's family have served in the military and she feels strongly about supporting the military community. Anna recently completed her Master's degree in Community Health at UM and now a position at the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services (MTDPHHS) in Helena, MT.
The participants in the pilot program represented the diversity of student vets at UM. They varied in age, gender, and physical capabilities. According to Anna, "Some students were younger, some older, some with chronic problems, and some without. They came to class needing different things." Although the number of student participants in the pilot project was modest, the classes were consistently attended and evaluations showed high enthusiasm for the program.
When asked if there were any observable improvements made during the pilot project Anna said, "There were a lot of noticeable changes. For example, a lot of them mention that their backs, shoulders, and knees feel much better, and those physical pains seem to be an issue across the board. I also noticed some positive health behavior changes from start to finish." Participants also described an improved ability to deal with stress on a day-to-day basis. To summarize her overall impression of the pilot program Anna said, "All in all, I think it was a very valuable experience for both the student veterans who participated and myself."
The program was so well received that the Executive Director of Veterans Yoga Project, Dr. Daniel Libby (a proud University of Montana alumnus) will be returning to Missoula to conduct a training session for healthcare professionals and yoga teachers in October. The training will be hosted by the The Learning Center at Red Willow, a local organization in Missoula that supports mindfulness-based programs.
The Mindful Resilience pilot program for UM student veterans was sponsored by Veterans Yoga Project, UM Mind-Body Lab, UM Student Veteran Association, and UM Campus Bookstore.
Veterans Yoga Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting recovery and resilience among veterans, their families, and their communities.