Yoga Warrior Class at the Phoenix VA
Slow, deep breaths are the only sounds you hear inside the lobby of Physical Medicine and Rehab during the Warrior Yoga class.
Yoga is the physical, mental and spiritual practice to transform the body and mind. This is done through a series of different poses while taking controlled breaths to experience a type of meditation. Yoga works on flexibility and strength, but it also helps in other ways.
“Relaxation, ” said Howard Lee. “It teaches you to be comfortable with some discomfort.”
Before the class begins they joke around with each other and list off the different reasons why they attend.
“It’s important for maintaining balance, ” said Henry Harding. “It has also helped me with my arthritis.”
A doctor recommended Charlotte Jones take the class to help with a medical condition.
“It has helped me so much with the stretching and strengthening, ” said Jones.
Brenda Burke, pharmacist at Phoenix VA Medical Center, donates her time to run the class. It’s been more than eight years since she started to practice yoga. Burke believes yoga changed her life.
“Yoga has given me the tools to be patient and calm even in stressful situations, ” said Burke. “I have learned to focus on those few things I have control of and tolerate the things I cannot control. It’s a way to meditate while moving.”
The class moves from pose to pose on Burke’s direction. Her voice is monotone by design to keep a very relaxed atmosphere. She helps reposition Harding to find the correct technique during the warrior pose. The different postures are designed to create openings inside the body.
“You go from difficult pose, while maintaining your breathing to a relaxation pose, ” said Burke. “This is done so you can reap the benefits of finishing the difficult pose.”
Burke said some other benefits of practicing yoga include flexibility, strength, endurance, and posture.
“I have experienced the benefits of yoga firsthand, ” Burke said. “I feel like I have a unique opportunity, based on my yoga training and VA employment, to teach a style of yoga that is beneficial and acceptable to veterans.”