Robin Carnes, Molly Birkholm, Karen Soltes, and Colonel Patricia Lillis, MD founded Warriors at Ease (WAE) in 2008 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). The WAE co-founders developed programs and curriculum based on their extensive experience as yoga and meditation teachers in military settings.
In 2006, Robin Carnes was the 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 Medical Center. Molly Birkholm and Karen Soltes taught the first yoga and meditation classes in the 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 Patricia Lillis, MD brought 32 years of experience as an Army physician who commanded two hospitals in Iraq She is also a yoga instructor.
As pioneering colleagues in uncharted territory – applying the practical benefits of ancient wisdom traditions in the modern US military – these four women recognized this work required skill sets not addressed in standard yoga teacher training. The WAE curriculum has been developed around the key competencies necessary to teach yoga and meditation in various military and veteran populations and to train mind-body professionals in these competencies.
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 2016, Warriors at Ease has trained a growing network 725+ 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 that support health and healing in military communities.
Our vision is to integrate yoga and meditation into military and civilian settings to support the health, resiliency, post-traumatic growth, and connection of people world-wide.
Our 8 core values define our approach to this important work.