Robin Carnes, Molly Birkholm, Karen Soltes, and Colonel (retired) Patricia Lillis, MD founded Warriors at Ease (WAE) in 2009 with the mission to bring the healing power of yoga and meditation to military communities around the world, especially those affected by combat stress, trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our co-founders developed programs and curriculum based on their extensive experience as yoga and meditation teachers in military settings.
Our curriculum, which we use to train WAE teachers around the globe, is based on solid research, including early studies that involved our co-founders. In 2006, Robin Carnes was the primary instructor for the first Department of Defense funded study on meditation for PTSD symptoms, and subsequently served on the clinical team of an acute PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) treatment program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Molly Birkholm and Karen Soltes taught the first yoga and meditation classes in VA systems in Miami and Washington, DC respectively, and served as Principal Investigators in clinical studies of yoga and meditation for combat-related conditions. Colonel Lillis brought 32 years of experience as an Army physician, including time she spent in command of two military hospitals in Iraq, and incorporated wisdom gained both on and off the battlefield. Warriors at Ease continues to develop curriculum and build programs based on the strong foundation established by these four pioneering colleagues.
We remain fully committed to providing advanced training to yoga and meditation teachers so they can safely and effectively support the health, resiliency and post-traumatic growth of service members, veterans and their families. We have also evolved to offering increased outreach (classes, workshops and retreats) in key locations where there are large populations of military as well as in areas where veterans may be under-served. Our newest initiative, Train, Teach and Transform is how we are bridging training and outreach and directly impacting warriors and their families. Additionally, through partnership with organizations and health professionals, our world-class curriculum is been used to serve other populations that endure high stress or trauma such as first responders, vulnerable youth, survivors of sexual abuse and beyond.
WAE’s approach to yoga and meditation rests on three pillars including:
- Trauma and combat injury sensitive practices. Through our training, WAE teachers learn a basic understanding of the human nervous system and how it is impacted by stress, trauma, and combat injuries.
- A military culture informed approach. WAE teachers learn about military culture and values so they can offer the practices in a way that minimizes cultural barriers and increases the relevance and accessibility of the practices.
- Evidence-based practices. WAE teachers are trained to share physical movements, breath, and meditation practices that, according to solid research, help regulate the nervous system.
As of 2017, Warriors at Ease has trained a growing network 750+ teachers who serve the active duty military and veteran communities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia.
Our mission is to increase awareness about the power of yoga and meditation and educate a network of professionals qualified to share evidenced-based practices through programs that support the health and healing of service members, veterans and their families.
Our vision is to integrate yoga and meditation into military and civilian settings to support the health, resiliency, post-traumatic growth, and connection of service members, veterans and their families.
Our 8 core values define our approach to this important work.