By: Diane Feen Contributing Writer
Judy Weaver is a hero, not the type you see on the battlefield per say, but a hero nonetheless.
Her career path began as a Yoga Therapist – one that combines mind, body and spirit.
But her life changed in 2007, and so did those around her.
“I met Beau MacVane, an Army Ranger, who had returned home after four tours of duty in the Middle East,” Weaver said. “Beau had just been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (known as ALS) and came to me for help. I worked with him for two and a half years twice a week teaching him yoga and meditation. I also worked with his family members and saw the huge benefits it was having on everyone.”
Weaver may have started out as a teacher, but ended up a student. She learned (by witnessing the miracles that beset young MacVane) that Yoga’s inherent benefits were perfect for all veterans and their families, not just the one she was working with.
That’s why she created an organization called Connected Warriors. This selfless venture allows veterans and their families to attend Yoga Classes free of charge (regardless of when or where they served) through a national network of yoga teachers. Weaver teaches veterans to teach yoga as well. Commander Ken Bingham, a former Naval Officer and celebrated ROTC Teacher at Boca High School, is one of Weaver’s Yoga teachers and a student at some of her classes.
The results have been stunning. “It helped me stay focused, sleep better and I lost 30 pounds,” said Bingham. It also affected his wife Carol. “I saw my husband much less wired after a week of work and I saw an overall change in him after he started taking classes. I said to myself, ‘I want to be like that as well.’”
So that’s what they did. Others followed quickly behind. Before she knew it, Weaver had created an international organization that teaches Yoga for free to active duty military bases, Veterans Hospitals and VA Centers. They also send yoga kits to active duty servicemen with yoga mats, guided meditation CD’s, books and other material to help them live in harmony with their surroundings.
According to the organization, Connected Warriors was launched to guide the military toward inner peace in a healthy, purposeful way. It is one of the largest volunteer 501(c)(3) organizations that offers evidence-based Trauma-Conscious yoga therapy. For veterans who teach the class it’s been a rewarding experience unlike anything they’ve seen before. And for those who take the classes it’s also a life changer.
“I have Parkinson’s disease and back problems but when I go to Connected Warriors yoga classes it gives me a feeling I’m accomplishing something. It helps my balance and it’s good for my back,” said 71-year-old Bill Johnson. It is Veterans like Johnson who come to yoga class in Boca Raton, Delray or Deerfield Beach. They’re not your usual yoga students, as a matter of fact, it is surprising to see a room filled with older men (and some women) who don khaki shorts over leotards and tank tops.
But it’s the camaraderie and reverie that stands out among the downward dogs and tree poses.
It’s also an incredible journey for our servicemen and women across the globe (and in Palm Beach County) to be able to get relief from such maladies as PST, chronic headaches, insomnia, anxiety, elevated blood pressure and suicide.
Because Connected Warriors is strictly a volunteer organization they depend on the kindness of strangers (and friends). That is why everyone is invited to attend their 5th Anniversary Gala on Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Boca Marriott Hotel. They are also looking for Corporate Sponsors and auction items.
The event will include keynote speaker Barb Schmidt, International bestselling author of “The Practice,” a live and silent auction, dinner and dancing. Jenelle Taylor from Gala Gal Inc. will be the auctioneer during the live auction.
Connected Warriors mission is “Helping the world feel better – One Breath at a time.”
Help them to change the terrain for those who have sacrificed so much to serve our country.
Call 954-278-3764 for information or email: firstname.lastname@example.org