Molly Birkholm, RYT-500
Co-Founder, Executive Director
Molly Birkholm is a recognized world leader in bringing yoga and meditation to military communities and treating trauma with yoga and meditation. She is the co-founder, Executive Director and lead trainer of Warriors at Ease, a non-profit organization that has deployed over 600 yoga and meditation teachers into military and veteran communities. She is also the co-owner of the Yoga Center of Key Biscayne, an affiliated Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, a place where soldiers, veterans and their families practice free of charge. Molly worked at the Miami VA hospital for four and a half years teaching yoga and meditation to over 1,000 veterans suffering from PTSD and Substance Abuse Dependencies. She lead cutting-edge Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health funded clinical research measuring the effects of meditation on PTSD. She continues to serve as an advocate for veterans. Through her company Healing River Yoga, she leads worldwide retreats and trainings. She has four iRest Yoga Nidra Guided Meditation CDs and will soon release two Yoga DVDs.
Robin Carnes, MBA, E-RYT
Co-Founder, Director of Training and Special Programs
Robin is a leading pioneer in the effort to address the urgent needs of veterans and their families with effective mind-body approaches. In 2006, Robin was the instructor for the first Defense Department-funded study of yoga for PTSD. From 2006-2012 Robin was the yoga and iRest® meditation instructor for a Defense Department acute PTSD treatment program at Walter Reed Medical Center. Out of this work, she co-founded Warriors at Ease, which to date has trained over 600 yoga teachers to teach safely and effectively in military communities. In 2013, the Smithsonian Institute honored Robin for her work with the military, and she has been featured in the Washington Post, and Woman’s Day Magazine, Army Magazine, as well as an award-winning documentary, Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue America’s Healthcare. She has presented at numerous DOD and VA conferences on the use of complementary therapies for combat stress-related conditions, and is a regular lecturer at the National Defense University. Robin brings years of experience in the business world, consulting to Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Discovery Communications and Staples, to bear leading the Warriors at Ease team as they offer evidence-based yoga and meditation to military communities around the world.
Karen Soltes, LCSW, E-RYT
Co-Founder and Faculty Member
Karen has worked at the Washington DC VA Medical Center since 2007, where she teaches iRest Yoga Nidra and Yoga as an adjunctive treatment for alleviating the symptoms of PTSD, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and chronic pain. In addition, she was the lead instructor on the impact of iRest Yoga Nidra on Chronic Pain in OEF/OIF Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury. She is on the faculty of Maryland University of Integrative Health Master’s Program in Yoga Therapy. In addition, Karen holds masters degrees in both Clinical Social Work and Education from Washington University. For the past 35 years, she has worked in a variety of therapeutic and educational settings, weaving clinical experience with the practice of yoga and mediation to empower and support people to live life in a more balanced way.
Annie Okerlin, RYT
Annie Okerlin is a certified yoga instructor in the traditions of Bikram, Vinyasa and Power Yoga. Annie founded and directs the Exalted Warrior Foundation in 2008, a yoga program designed for our nation’s wounded war fighters, their families and the dedicated staff therapists intimately involved with their care and rehabilitation in major military medical and Veterans hospital facilities. The program supports wounded populations with amputations, orthopedic poly-trauma, burn injuries, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries as well as PTSD and depression. Annie is also the owner and president of Yogani Studio in Tampa, Florida.
Lynn Stoller, M.S., OTR/L, RYT
Lynn has a special interest in war-related sensory processing disorders and yoga as a treatment modality. She has trained yoga instructors in sensory-based techniques for combat stress and PTSD, conducted a pilot study of combat veterans and is co-investigator and first author of the Iraq yoga study, “Effects of Sensory-Enhanced Yoga on Symptoms of Combat Stress in Deployed Military Personnel”. Lynn is an occupational therapist at Cotting School, Lexington, MA.
Susan Alden, RYT
Susan Alden is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served for six years as an active duty Army logistics officer in the 82nd Airborne and 3rd Infantry Divisions. For 18 years, Susan has been teaching both yoga and meditation within the military community, increasing awareness about PTSD, TBI, and combat stress and promoting complementary medicine on military bases across the country. As founder of Ola Lokahi, Susan offers retreats grounded in indigenous practices and principles that invite visionary leaders in the military and the civilian sector to come together and connect with a deeper sense of peace and profound purpose.
Director of Operations, Outreach and Marketing
Gail, a U.S. Army veteran, was a Korean linguist stationed in Korea. She is also an iRest Yoga Nidra Instructor. After attending a one-week iRest Yoga Nidra training in June of 2010, her chronic knee pain of 20 years (from the Army) disappeared and hasn’t returned. She wants to give back and help share the success and benefits of yoga and meditation for dealing with chronic pain, PTS, insomnia and anxiety. Her bodywork practice specializes in people with chronic pain and trauma. She has a background in marketing, website management, social media marketing and event coordination for Silicon Valley companies.
Faith San Felice, RYT
Director of Proposal Development
Faith brings her experience as an educator, grant manager, grant writer, and yoga instructor to the Warriors at Ease team. She has significant experience in managing grant-funded programs and developing successful grant proposals for local and national organizations. She authored and co-edited articles and publications on topics in special education and community college teacher preparation programs. She is a certified yoga instructor with additional training in yin yoga, restorative yoga, iRest® Yoga Nidra, and trauma-sensitive yoga and meditation through Warriors at Ease. Faith began leading yoga classes in 2012 with the intention of creating yoga and meditation experiences that recognize and support the unique needs of each student.