Mike Millios is a Veterans Yoga Project instructor, a veteran and an attorney. Read more about Mike’s journey from the 101stAirborne Division to the yoga mat.
What is your military background?
I served on active duty for 8 years in the Army. I deployed to Afghanistan and served at Fort Campbell, Fort Drum, Fort Monroe, and Fort Belvoir.
How did you come across yoga?
I stumbled into yoga because I thought it would help with injuries from playing hockey and serving at the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT). It didn’t stick right away. Eventually, I started to notice the impact it had on my mood, sleep, and mental health in addition to the physical benefits.
What were some unexpected benefits of yoga?
The settling of the monkey brain! Yoga offers the space to be present in the moment. It helped me with sleep, managing stress and trauma, and with my ability to process my life in a healthy manner.
How did you learn about VYP?
I noticed that yoga was making a big difference in my life. I thought that my fellow veterans would benefit. I called VYP when I googled “yoga for veterans” and spoke to Brianna who helped me understand the VYP mission. I was hooked. I signed up for MRT and have been a part of the VYP family since, maybe the Cousin Eddie of the family.
What led you to teach and what do you expect to accomplish through teaching?
I just want to give people 60-90 minutes away from their phones, stories, suffering, or whatever is on their mind. It’s about holding space to let the yoga do the work. I try to guide people to awareness. It’s not about escaping problems or spa yoga (Like Dan Libby says), it’s about being with ourselves, creating that awareness, and transforming using our own natural tools.
Is there something about the veteran population that you feel connects well with what yoga has to offer?
Leaving active duty caused me a tremendous amount of confusion, loneliness, and a disconnect with my body and my new civilian community. Not an easy transition. VYP classes help veterans connect to themselves and our community. It’s nice to create that space for reflection and discovery simply through moving and breathing.
Why do you teach?
Purpose. I’m such a firm believer that yoga changed my life. I want other Veterans (and all humans) to be able to find that space in themselves. We can all heal and improve ourselves. I like getting to guide the personal discovery.
You also teach in the criminal justice system? Can you tell us about that?
I started a non-profit called Karuna Community Mn that provides yoga and meditation to those who serve in the legal community and to those in the jail. We want to bring similar tools that VYP offers to our community. Like Veterans, people in the legal community are exposed to vast amounts of trauma. We host workshops, we teach in jails, we will be working with police officers soon. All communities can benefit.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Don’t let what your current beliefs about yoga keep you from trying it out. Take care of each other and yourself.