Veterans Find Contemporary Relief in Ancient Discipline, Dept of Veterans Affairs, Jan 22, 2010

Lewis Leithner never thought he’d try a yoga class. Push-ups, running, and similar physical training activities were Lewis’s style of exercise, having been in the Navy for 31 years.

But when old age crept up and Leithner’s chronic back pain set in, he was ready to try anything his doctor recommended to ease his ailing back.

“Before, I’d think of yoga as some old Japanese gentlemen in meditation,” Lewis recalls. “It’s not like that – it’s more like an exercise that teaches you how to breathe, and here I am and I’m enjoying it.”

Yoga is often an excellent rehabilitation technique, and various yoga therapy programs have sprung up in VA facilities across the country in response to its effectiveness. Research has shown that yoga helps decrease pain and depression, and improves energy and mental health.

Leithner is taking a yoga class at the VA’s San Diego Medical Center that caters specifically to Veterans who suffer from chronic lower-back pain. The class was started in 2003 by Dr. Sunita Baxi, who has conducted extensive research on the…Read more

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