Bringing the power of mind-body healing to our nation's warriors

Warriors At Ease Team

Robin Carnes, MBA, E-RYT
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Robin Carnes, MBA, E-RYT, Certified iRest Yoga Nidra Instructor, Executive Director of Warriors At Ease

Robin Carnes, MBA, E-RYT Executive Director

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 450 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

Molly Birkholm, RYT 500
Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board, Director of Development and Special Projects

Molly Birkholm, RYT-500, Chairman of the Board, Warriors At Ease

Molly Birkholm, RYT-500 Chairman of the Board

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, Chairman of the Board and lead trainer of Warriors at Ease, a non-profit organization that has deployed over 450 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.

Karen Soltes, LCSW, E-RYT
Co-Founder and Faculty Member

Karen Soltes, LCSW, E-RYT, certified iRest Yoga Nidra teacher

Karen Soltes, LCSW, E-RYT

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.

(Ret.) Col Pat Lillis, M.D., MHA, RYT
Co-founder and Faculty Member

Col. Pat Lillis (ret) M.D., M.P.H., RYT Co-Founder

Col. Pat Lillis (ret) M.D., M.P.H., RYT

“Colonel Pat” has over 30 years of clinical and operational military medical experience, including a combat tour in OIF as a Hospital Commander.  Recipient of numerous awards to include the Legion of Merit twice and a Bronze Star, she also served in the Office of The Army Surgeon General at Health Policy. She had a key role in the Task Force establishing the practices of yoga, meditation and acupuncture as accepted therapies in the DoD and VA practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD, TBI and pain. She brings her unique military expertise as well as her extensive yoga studies and knowledge to our organization.

Sue Lynch, J.D., E-RYT
Faculty Member

Maj. Sue Lynch, J.D., E-RYT

Maj. Sue Lynch, J.D., E-RYT

Sue Lynch is a certified yoga and iRest instructor, and Reiki practitioner. She is also an attorney and an officer in the Judge Advocate General Corp (JAG) in the U.S. Army Reserves, with more than 24 years in the military. Yoga was instrumental in her recovery from PTSD, which she experienced after returning from the Gulf War in 1991.  She is the Executive Director of There & Back Again, a non-profit reintegration program for combat veterans that uses yoga, meditation and alternative approaches to healing the whole body to help veterans transition back to their lives stateside. Sue owns the Charlestown Yoga Studio in Charlestown, MA and runs a yoga teacher certification program for veterans.

Annie Okerlin, RYT
Faculty Member

Annie Okerlin, E-RYT 500

Annie Okerlin, E-RYT 500

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
Faculty Member

Lynn Stoller, M.S. OTR/L, RYT

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.

Gail Francisco
Director of Operations, Outreach and Marketing

Gail Francisco, CHT, CMT, Director of Operations, Outreach & Marketing for Warriors At Ease

Gail Francisco, CHT, CMT
Director of Operations

Gail is a U.S. Army veteran, her Army time was spent as 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.

DeShan Foret, MPH, RYT-500
Administrative Manager and Registrar

DeShan Foret, Administrative Manager and Registrar

DeShan Foret, Administrative Manager and Registrar

DeShan’s background is in traditional public health, with a specialization in health education and prevention.  She has experience working with federal and state public health initiatives as well as community-based program implementation. In addition to her public health experience, DeShan is an advanced yoga teacher (500 hr-level) and since 2007 her health education focus took a turn towards wellness education when she began teaching groups about yoga and meditation for positive behavior change. She was a full-time staff and yoga teacher for the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers for 7 years during which time she led numerous courses and workshops for retreat guests.

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Contact Information

Warriors At Ease
8400 Cedar St.
Silver Spring, MD 20810
Phone: 512-516-5031
(pacific time)
Gail Francisco

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