Om For Good
Operation Finding Peace
As any committed yogi knows, the benefits of yoga extend far beyond Madonna-taut arms. Holding its many poses is said to be soul-soothing, even life-altering. And that is exactly what explains the motivation behind kaia yoga’s upcoming, salute-worthy act: Helping American servicemen and women benefit from the healing powers of warrior poses, sun salutations and more.
Operation Finding Peace is a first-time collaboration between Kaia’s Greenwich and Westport studios and the nonprofit philanthropic group, Yoga Gives Back. The fundraising event takes place May 17 at Kaia’s Westport location and will feature a series of special events—a yoga marathon, a cocktail party and panel discussions—all devoted to bringing yoga to active military members, veterans and their families. Among the OFP’s patriotic goals is to raise money to support several scholarships for veterans interested in becoming yoga instructors and supplying iPods loaded with yoga instruction to active armed forces members around the world.
OFP is a manifestation of the vision of Kaia’s founders, husband-and-wife team Stan Woodman and Gina Norman. The founding principle of their studios, which also house eco-minded juice bars and offer an organic food co-op, is to have them function as holistic centers that encourage family and community wellness, explains Katherine Sanford, a Greenwich resident, Kaia instructor and event spokesperson. Stan will lead a 108 sun salutation marathon as part of the day’s events.
“As people start to practice yoga, we often find it changes their lives,” says Katherine. “They have more positive energy, make better food choices and become more interested in wellness. This is a really positive way to share that energy with a group of people who have sacrificed and put our safety and well-being ahead of their own.”
The event was inspired, in part, by the pioneering work of Robin Gilmartin, director of the residential Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Program at Newington Veterans Hospital, who has found yoga can help veterans—especially those suffering from PTSD—as they transition back to community life. In addition to OFP’s gala events, Robin will join Stan and Gina and renowned yoga gurus Seane Corn, Beryl Bender Birch and Cyndi Lee for an evening panel discussion devoted to the topic of service in the yoga community. The Kaia team has already seen the benefits of yoga within its own community of veteran practitioners: “Yoga has been integral in my journey remembering to breathe, love, be light and be a peaceful warrior, the most powerful warrior,” says Iraq War veteran Sharon Bloom-Brzozowski, a Kaia yoga student. “My hope is that fellow veterans will discover the healing that yoga offers.” Namaste.